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Catalog description: SURVEYS THE EVOLUTION OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION FROM ITS BEGINNINGS INTO THE REFORMATION AND RELIGIOUS WARS. No prerequisites; no unusual technology skills required.
This is the first of a two-part survey of Western Civilization and introduces students to some of the leading figures, ideas, and events of the Ancient Near East and premodern Europe. The goal of this course is for students not only to acquire historical information but also to learn through example (lectures) and practice (discussions, exams, 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. Many lectures involve visual material available on the instructor's Home Page. 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. Finally, each student must maintain a portfolio containing all written work. The portfolio will be a simple green two-pocket folder containing the minithemes and exams as they are complete.
There will be a midterm exam covering parts one and two of the course; a second midterm exam covering parts three and four; and a final exam 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.
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.
Click here for required statements concerning freedom of learning, cheating, diversity, ADA policy, and outcomes of learning.
Each mini-theme should be between 250 and 500 words long (one to two printed pages). 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. Submit the paper inside your green folder.
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.
Consult Mr Bockelman's classic Guidlines to Writing Minithemes.
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, 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. Euripides, Bacchae
a) "Keeping a Lid on It"
What does the Bacchae tell you about the power of religion and the consequences of repressing it?
b) "The Religion of the Bacchae"
What kind of religion is described in the Bacchae? How is it practiced? What is bad about it? What is good? Evaluate it according to the points of view expressed by different characters.
c) "Women and Religion"
Why are Bacchus's devotees mostly women? Part of your answer should involve noticing how concerned the men are at what their women are doing.
4. Virgil, 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 Achilles?
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
5. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Attend the production of the play by USD Theatre on the Knutson Main Stage 21 Nov-7 Dec. Your answer must make explicit reference to this production.
a) “Seal up the mouth of outrage”
Analyze the working of justice in early modern Verona. Consider the conflict between justice administered privately and publicly. How were crimes investigated, judged, and punished? How does USD's production handle this aspect of the text?
b) “Women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the walls”
To what extent did women control their own destinies? To what extent did they have freedom of action, and how could they exercise what powers they had? How does USD's production handle this aspect of the text?
c) “The world is not thy friend, nor the world’s law”
Contrast the lives of people of various classes and consider their attitudes toward each other. How does USD's production handle this aspect of the text?
Part I: Introduction
How we know about the past, and why we study it
Part 2: The Ancient Near East [Civilizations chs 1-2]
Chelsea Campbell, Writing Center presentation|
Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations: writing
[Add/Drop period ends]
|Israel, Yahweh, and History|
Disc: The Epic of Gilgamesh (first mini-theme due)|
Slides: The City of Jerusalem
|FIRST MIDTERM EXAMINATION|
Part 3: Greece [Civilizations chs 3-4]
|The Homeric World|
|Disc: Homer's Odyssey (second mini-theme due)|
|Athenian Democracy and Its Crises|
Slides: The City of Athens|
Disc: Euripides' Bacchae (third mini-theme due)
Part 4: Rome [Civilizations chs 5-6]
|Chronology and Rome's Origins (handout); maps of the Roman Empire, Italy, and Rome|
The Roman Constitution (handout on
Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy
|The Roman Revolution|
|Disc: Virgil’s Aeneid (fourth mini-theme due)|
|Slides: The City of Rome|
|SECOND MIDTERM EXAMINATION|
Part 5: The Middle Ages [Civilizations chs 7-11]
|No Class: Veterans Day|
|Rome and the Christians|
Byzantium and Islam
|Medieval Society and Feudalism|
Slides: The City of Paris
Part 6: Renaissance and Reformation [Civilizations chs 12-14]
Romeo and Juliet at the Knutson Main Stage 21 Nov-7 Dec
|26-30 Nov||Thanksgiving Recess|
|The Church and Its Reformers|
|Disc: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (fifth mini-theme due)|
Slides: The City of Florence
Wed 17 Dec
|7:30 AM: FINAL EXAMINATION|