Honors Western Civilization
History and Science, Part I
Course Description and Schedule

HIST 121 Section 015 (Honors), Fall 2000
12:30-1:45 TTh, East Hall 213

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

The first of a two-part survey of Western Civilization, this course introduces students to some of the leading figures, ideas, and events of the Ancient Near East and premodern Europe. It also exposes them to the concerns and methods of historical inquiry through the example of lectures, by analyzing and discussing selected texts, and by writing papers. Further, the course requires students to become familiar with the use of the World Wide Web and with historical resources available on it. Finally, the theme of this year's course, history and science, prompts reflection upon the ways in which historical experience affects scientific attitudes, approaches, and discoveries, and how scientific change has varied greatly from time to time and place to place.

Students must read all assignments, attend every lecture, take notes, participate in discussions, and secure all on-line materials, which contain chronological and geographical background to the lectures and readings. In addition, students write papers and attend special discussion sessions four times during the semester. Material from the lectures may be incorporated into the papers and observations during discussions, but the main purpose of the papers is for students to treat in detail certain themes that appear only generally in the lectures, especially themes related to history and the arts. Three of the projects are based on assigned readings while the fourth involves service learning (see below).


Grades depend on written work, the service project, and participation in class and discussion sessions. Students who expect to miss more than three meetings should meet with the instructor in the first week.  The instructor may remove from enrollment or reduce the final grade of students who cannot meet these requirements.

Each student writes three papers, completes a project in service learning, submits regular summaries of course content by part, and creates a home page on the World Wide Web. The papers count 50 points each, divided into 30 points for content, 10 points for style, and 10 points for discussion. The service-learning project counts 50 points and the summaries count an additional 50 points. The web pages are not graded, but are required for successful completion of the course. From a total of 250 points possible,

250-225 = A
224-200 = B
200-175 = C
174-150 = D.

Some of you may wish to consult Gerald W Schlabach's Top 10 Ways to Lower Your Grade in Humanities.

Required Books, etc

Most of these items are at the bookstore and many are on reserve at I D Weeks; some are available on-line.

A Project in Service Learning

One of the concerns that this course will address has to do with how people should live--how they craft their lives, as it were, in an aesthetic sense.  In order to investigate the degree to which responsibility to other people figure in that life-making,  in consultation with the instructor and the student chairs of Students Enhancing Resources for Vermillion Enrichment (SERVE) in the Student Activities Center, each student will undertake a project in service learning. The project will involve fifteen hours of community service. A copy of the plan describing the project and naming the supervisor who will validate the student's performance is due by 29 Sept. The completed plan and a journal describing the experience is due in the history office Monday 11 December. Students will meet in small groups in the Honors Program Conference Room to discuss these projects as follows.

Following the discussions each student will prepare a short paper evaluating the service-learning experience. This paper is due Monday 11 Dec. The project is worth 50 points as follows: 10 points planning, 10 points for the journal, 10 points for discussion, and 20 points for the final paper.


At the end of each substantive part of the course (parts 2-6), students will submit short answers based on lectures and readings in the textbook to the respective study questions.  Omit the first question in each set.  Each summary should have about one short paragraph to answer each question. E-mail these to the instructor by the first Friday following the completion of each part of the course.

Web Pages

As soon as possible, each student will send an email to the instructor so that he can establish a mailing list for the class.

By midterm each student will have written his or her own home page on the World Wide Web. Go to "Creating a Home Page" and InTEC's guide to publishing on the Web to learn how to write a home page. Each home page must have at least an email link to the student, a link to the Honors Program site, and a graphic image.

Discussions and Papers

The instructor has set four problems based on several of the required books. Each student will write short papers (5-10 pp) addressing the problems, and join a small group to discuss the problem after completing each paper. Students will be assigned to one of these groups at an early meeting. The papers will conform to Chicago style and include title page and bibliography: see K L Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed (Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1993), or The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed (Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1993). The title page will indicate the appropriate discussion session.

Papers are due in the History office (207 East Hall) by 4:00 pm on the scheduled days; discussions follow accordingly at the Honors Lounge. Papers submitted on time may be rewritten for up to five additional points. Papers submitted after the Monday following the due date will be penalized by ten points and an additional ten points every twenty-four hours thereafter.

Paper 1, due 16 Oct.
  • 12:00-2:00 Thur 19 Oct
  • 7:00-9:00 Thur 19 Oct
Paper 2, due 9 Nov
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 14 Nov
  • 7:00-9:00 Tues 14 Nov
Paper 3, due 4 Dec.
  • 12:00-2:00 Thur 7 Dec
  • 7:00-9:00 Thur 7 Dec

Paper Topics

Outside of class students will examine the ways that their historical experience governs the ways that people think about their world, understand how it works, and develop tools to investigate and control it.  The primary text is Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolution, with its seminal interpretation of scientific change.  It will offer a starting point to the study of particular periods.

  1. Early Cosmology
    Read the book of Genesis in the Bible and Hesiod's Works and Days and Theogony.  How are these ways of understanding the big picture of what the world is like and how it came to be different from modern ways?  Can you account for the difference?  Is the difference one of quantity only (ours is more "correct") or of quality (these are utterly different and incomparable ways of thinking about the world)?

  2. The Classical Way to See the World
    Read Aristophanes' The Clouds, Aristotle's Physics (also glance at The History of Animals and Parts of Animals; you can find these in the library or online at the The Internet Classics Archive), and Lucretius, The Way Things Are.  Compared to the readings in part 1, do you find anything strikingly new or modern in these works?  What sort of attitude do these authors have toward how we investigate the world?  What assumptions do they have about how the world works?  What value do they see in scientific investigation?
  3. The Scientific Revolution
    Read Bacon, Novum Organum, and Copernicus, On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres.  Here Kuhn's book will be especially relevant.  Again, what sort of progress have western scientists made since the classical period?  What are their assumptions and expectations?  Note in particular the rhetorical strategy that Copernicus in particular assumes.  Why does he need not only to state his hypothesis, but also to justify the act of stating it? 


Part 1: Introduction

7 Sept How We Know About the Past, and Why We Study It

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

12 Sept Disc: Ancient Historians and the purpose of history (read and bring handout; also read Walt Whitman's "Starting from Paumanok"); Part 2: Chronology and Geography (bring chronology sheet)
14 Sept Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations
19 Sept Mesopotamian Religion
21 Sept Israel, Yahweh, and History; Slides: The City of Jerusalem

Part 3: Greece [Civilization ch 2]

26 Sept Chronology and the Bronze Age (bring chronology sheet)
28 Sept NO CLASS
29 Sept Summaries to Part 2 due; Service-Learing Plan due
3 Oct The Homeric World
5 Oct Early Sparta and Athens
10 Oct Athenian Democracy and its Crises
16 Oct Paper 1 due
17 Oct Slides: The City of Athens
19 Oct Discussions on Paper 1

Part 4: Rome [Civilization chs 3-4]

20 Oct Summaries to Part 3 due
24 Oct Chronology and Rome's Origins (bring chronology sheet)
26 Oct The Roman Constitution (bring handout on Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy
31 Oct Roman Imperialism: The Roman Revolution
2 Nov Rome and the Christians
3 Nov Summaries to Part 4 due
Web page must be complete

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

7 Nov Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
9 Nov Byzantium and Islam
Paper 2 due
14 Nov Discussions on Paper 2
21 Nov Medieval Society and Feudalism
Medieval Renaissances
27 Nov Summaries to Part 5 due

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

28 Nov Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
30 Nov Renaissance Humanism and Political Thought
4 Dec Paper 3 due
5 Dec The Church and Its Reformers
7 Dec Discussions on Paper 3
11 Dec Service-learning plan and journal due
12 Dec Slides: The City of Florence
14 Dec Discussions on Service Learning; course evaluation
15 Dec Summaries to Part 6 due
18 Dec Service-learning paper due; all required work must be submitted by the end of this day

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