Western Civilization I
Course Description and Schedule

HIST 121 Section 011, Summer 2002
10:00-12:25 MTWTh, A&S 106

Mr Lehmann
Office Hours: 12:30-1:30 M-Th
East Hall 210, 677-5573, clehmann@usd.eduhttp://www.usd.edu/~clehmann

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 pre-modern Europe. It also exposes students to the concerns and methods of historical inquiry through lectures, analysis and discussion of selected texts, and writing of short papers.  The goal of this course is for the student not only to acquire historical information but also to learn through example (lectures, textbook) and practice (discussions, essay examinations, 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 two 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 28 May, covering parts one through three of the course, and a final exam 6 June, covering parts four through six. Exams consist of one long and a choice of two out of three short essay questions.  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 exams counts 50 points each and the mini-themes 80 points (20 points each), for a total of 180 possible points.

180-162 A
161-144 B
143-126 C
125-108 D
107- F

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


Jackson J. Spielvogel. Western Civilization: A Brief History. 2d ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2002. 0534587070
The Epic of Gilgamesh.  Trans Danny P Jackson.  Chicago: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers,1992.  0865162506
Homer. The Odyssey. Ttrans Richmond Lattimore.  New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.  006094798
Virgil.  The Aeneid. Trans Robert Fitzgerald.  New York: Vintage Books,1984.  0394725964
Shakespeare.  The Tempest.  Ed Robert Langbaum.  New York: Signet, 1987.  0451524250

Recommended: Kate L Turabian. A Manual for Writers. 6th ed. Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1996.  0226816273

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 instructor will return essays with special problems for rewriting.

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

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. Homer's Odyssey, books 1, 5-12

a) "The Greek Hero"
What characteristics does Odysseus have that so impress the Phaeacians? What do you have to do, what do you have to be like, to be a real Greek hero?

b) "The Role of Women"
What part do the various women you meet in the Odyssey play in Greek society? Are they active or passive, public or private, or do some take a different kind of role from others? Why?

c) "The Role of the Gods"
Analyze the part the gods play in the Odyssey. Are the gods active or passive? Are they like human beings? or more "supernatural"? Are they like or unlike the Mesopotamian and Hebrew gods?

3. Virgilís Aeneid, books 1-8

a) "The Roman Hero"
What are the actions and moral qualities that make Aeneas a hero? How does Aeneas compare to Odysseus?

b) "Dido and Aeneas"
Was Aeneas right or wrong to leave Dido? Was she right or wrong to react so violently? As you evaluate their actions, try to put yourself into the shoes of the ancient Roman reader.

c) "Virgil and the Roman State"
How does Virgil use foreshadowing to exalt the Roman state of his own time? Isolate and comment on the specific relevant passages.

4. Shakespeare, Tempest

a) "Savagery and Civilization"
Explore the character of Caliban for insights into the benefits and the costs of becoming civilized.  How does Shakespeare set the natural world and the world of people at odds, and which does he value higher?  Or does he allow us to separate the two?

b) "Slavery and Colonization"
Why is Caliban the slave of Prospero?  Because he is slavish by nature or because Prospero has enslaved him with his superior "technology"?  Can you read The Tempest as an indictment of the age of exploration and colonization?

c) "Sea-tossed Reality"
Shakespeare shows that different observers can perceive the same event very differently; for example, the tempest is either a terrifying work of violent nature or an illusion created by Prospero's craft in order to bring Antonio and the others into his power.   Where is the event?  What is reality?  When Prospero breaks his staff and everyone returns to Italy, will reality, too, return?



13 May

Part I: Introduction

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

Part 2: The Ancient Near East [Western Civilization chs 1-2]

Chronology and Geography (handout)


14 May

Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations
Mesopotamian Religion
Israel, Yahweh, and History

15 May

Slides: The City of Jerusalem
Disc: The Epic of Gilgamesh and Biblical Flood Story (first mini-theme due)


16 May

Part 3: Greece [Western Civilization chs 3-4]

Chronology and the Bronze Age (handout)
The Homeric World

20 May

Disc: Homer's Odyssey (second mini-theme due)
Early Sparta and Athens

21 May

Athenian Democracy and its Crises
Slides: The City of Athens


22 May

Part 4: Rome [Western Civilization chs 5-6]

Chronology and Rome's Origins (handout)
The Roman Constitution (handout on Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy

23 May

Roman Imperialism
The Roman Revolution

28 May

Slides: The City of Rome
Disc: Virgil, Aeneid (third mini-theme due)


29 May


30 May

Part 5: The Middle Ages [Western Civilization chs 7-11]

Chronology (handout)
Rome and the Christians


31 May Byzantium and Islam
Medieval Society and Feudalism

3 June

Medieval Renaissances
Macauly's Cathedral (video)

4 June

Part 6: Renaissance and Reformation [Western Civilization chs 12-13]

Chronology (handout)
Renaissance Humanism
The Church and its Reformers

5 June

Disc: Shakespeare, Tempest (fourth mini-theme due)
Slides: The City of Florence

6 June