Western Civilization I
Course Description and Schedule

HIST 121 Section 025, Fall 2000
11:00-12:15 TTh, Patterson Hall 117

Mr Lehmann
Office Hours: 10-11 TTh
East Hall 210, 677-5573, clehmann@usd.eduhttp://www.usd.edu/~clehmann

Ms Blevins
Office Hours: 12:30-1:30 TTh, 11-11:30 W
East Hall 211, 677-5574, rblevins@usd.edu

This is the first of a two-part survey of Western Civilization, and introduces the student to some of the leading figures, ideas, and events of the Ancient Near East and premodern Europe. The goal of this course is for the student not only to acquire historical information but also to learn through example (lectures) and practice (discussions, essays, papers) a historical/critical method of thought and expression.

In order to do well in this course students must attend all lectures and read all assignments. Students who expect to miss more than three meetings should see the instructor within the first week. The readings and the mini-themes on them are especially important, and should be given ample time for reading, reflection, and writing. Students should secure all on-line handouts, which contain chronological and supplemental background to the lectures and readings.  A set of study questions, also available on-line, will assist the student preparing for examinations.

There will be a midterm exam 3 October, covering parts one and two of the course; another 14 November, covering parts three and four; and a final exam 19 December, covering parts five and six. Exams consist of one long and a choice of two out of three short essay questions; the final exam includes a comprehensive essay question. Each student will write a mini-theme on a choice of suggested topics for each reading, due on the assigned date during discussion of the topics. The first midterm exam counts 50 points, the second 50, the final 75, and the mini-themes 100 points (20 points each), for a total of 275 possible points.

275-248 A
247-220 B
219-193 C
193-165 D
164- F

Students who wish to arrange another method of evaluation should see the instructor within the first two weeks.  By all means consult the Top 10 Ways to Lower Your Grade in Humanities.


Chodorow, et al, The Mainstream of Civilization
Jackson, The Epic of Gilgamesh
Hesiod, The Works and Days, Theogony
Aristophanes, Four Plays
Lucretius, The Way Things Are
Joinville and Villehardouin, Chronicles of the Crusades

Recommended: Turabian, Manual for Writers

The Mini-themes

Each mini-theme should be between 250 and 500 words long (one to two pages), typewritten or carefully handwritten. It can earn up to 20 points as follows: 10 points for content (clarity of argument, familiarity with the work), 5 points for style (grammar, spelling, use of words), and 5 points for care in presentation.  The instructors will return essays with special problems for rewriting.  Try to work a week in advance; your instructors will gladly evaluate and mark up your first clean draft and return it to you for rewriting in time for the final submission.

Unless you make special arrangements in advance or have a medical or family emergency, you must participate in the discussion in order to receive credit for a given paper.

As you read the assignments keep all the suggested topics in mind, and take notes. Then pick one topic and answer it carefully and concisely. Feel free to consult with fellow students and with your instructor as you prepare the assignments, but the result must be entirely your own. Be particularly careful to avoid plagiarism; you must give references for every idea or quotation you borrow as you construct your argument. See Turabian, Manual for Writers, for the proper way to indicate references. At the head of your paper write the title and your name and staple your sheets together.

1. The Epic of Gilgamesh (26 Sept)

a) "The Search for Immortality"
How does Gilgamesh seek to attain immortality? What experience starts him on his quest? Is he successful? What immortality does Gilgamesh at last acquire?

b) "Nature and Civilization"
Focus on the character Enkidu in order to show the consequences of humanity's "fall" from a natural wild state into civilization. What is the role of the harlot in Enkidu's "fall"? What are the attributes of civilization? Is civilization a good thing? Is it inevitably at odds with nature?

c) "The Flood Story"
Compare the flood story in Gilgamesh with that in the book of Genesis. Notice the similarities, but concentrate especially on differences, particularly the difference between the motivation and actions of the Mesopotamian gods and the Hebrew God.

2. Hesiod, Works and Days (10 October)

a) "The Good Man"
What characteristics does Hesiod expect a good man to have?  In what ways does his brother fail to have those features?

b) "Town and Country"
Can you detect a confrontation between life on the farm and life in town?  Between rural and urban attitudes?  What are the differences and where do Hesiod's sympathies lie?

c) "Justice"
Describe the mechanism of justice as Hesiod understands it.  Does it depend on natural processes, intervention by the gods, or human institutions?

3. Aristophanes, The Clouds and Lysistrata (24 Oct)

a) "Aristophanes' Purpose." Cut through the comedy and try to determine what serious messages Aristophanes wants to convey to his audience, if any. What moral or social problems does he address?

b) "Aristophanes' Opposites." Identify some of the oppositions Aristophanes uses to comic effect in his plays, eg, male-female, young-old. Do these oppositions permit real criticism of Athenian society? Do they have relevance to other societies, such as your own?

c) "The Women of Aristophanes." Use the plays to illustrate the role Athenian women played in their society. Does Aristophanes intend to criticize that role? Does he want women to take Lysistrata as their role model for political life?

4. Lucretius, The Way Things Are (7 November)

a) "Epicureanism."  Summarize the essential teachings of Epicurus.  Do you consider this an appealing philosophy?

b) "Why Things Happen."  What, according to Lucretius, causes things to happen?  Consider not only natural processes but human, psychological processes as well.  Why do we do the things we do?

c) "The One and the Many."  Do you think Lucretius emphasizes the unity of all things or their diversity?  Explain your position.

5. Joinville, The Life of Saint Louis (5 December)

a) "Motivating Crusaders." Why did King Louis, Joinville, and the others go on crusades? Try to identify unspoken as well as explicit motives, and rank them in importance.

b) "Christians and Saracens." How did each religious group perceive the other? Do you think their preceptions were accurate?

c) "Feudal Politics." Describe Louis's "government." How did Louis make decisions? To what extent was the king "in charge"? Why did his subjects obey him?



Part I: Introduction

7 Sept How we know about the past, and why we study it
Disc: Ancient Historians (read handout)

Part 2: The Ancient Near East [Civilization ch 1]

12 Sept Chronology and Geography (handout)
14 Sept Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations
19 Sept Mesopotamian Religion
21 Sept Israel, Yahweh, and History
26 Sept Disc: The Epic of Gilgamesh and Biblical Flood Story (first mini-theme due)
Slides: The City of Jerusalem
28 Sept NO CLASS

Part 3: Greece [Civilization ch 2]

5 Oct Chronology and the Bronze Age; The Homeric World
10 Oct Disc: Hesiod's Works and Days (second mini-theme due)
17 Oct Early Sparta and Athens
19 Oct Athenian Democracy and its Crises
24 Oct Slides: The City of Athens
Disc: Aristophanes, Clouds, Lysistrata

Part 4: Rome [Civilization chs 3-4]

26 Oct Chronology and Rome's Origins
31 Oct The Roman Constitution (handout on Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy
2 Nov Roman Imperialism
7 Nov The Roman Revolution
9 Nov Slides: The City of Rome; disc: Lucretius, The Way Things Are (third mini-theme due)

Part 5: The Middle Ages [Civilization chs 7-14]

21 Nov Chronology; Rome and the Christians
28 Nov Byzantium and Islam
30 Nov Medieval Society and Feudalism
5 Dec Medieval Renaissances; disc: Joinville, The Life of Saint Louis  (fourth mini-theme)

Part 6: Renaissance and Reformation [Civilization chs 16-19]

7 Dec Chronology; Renaissance Humanism
12 Dec The Church and its Reformers
14 Dec Slides: The City of Florence
19 Dec FINAL EXAMINATION, 7:30-9:30 am