Honors Western Civilization
Law, Society, and History, Part I
Course Description and Schedule

HIST 121 Section 055 (Honors), Fall 1998
12:30-1:45 TTh, Old Main 308

Mr Lehmann
Office Hours: 2:00-3:00 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, law and society, prompts reflection upon such issues as the nature, origin, and purpose of law, the development of judicial and penal institutions, and the social utility of law and legal institutions--all within historical contexts.

Students must read all assignments, attend every lecture, take notes, participate in discussions, and secure all handouts, 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 law and society. 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. 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

Required Books

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

A Project in Service Learning

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 18 Sept. The completed plan and a journal describing the experience is due in the history office Monday 7 December. Students will meet in small groups in the Honors Program Conference Room to discuss these projects as follows.

Following the discussions students will prepare a short paper evaluating their experience. This paper, the plan, and the journal are due Friday 12 Dec. The project is worth 50 points as follows: 10 points planning, 10 points for the journal, 10 poins 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. 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

Each student will establish an internet account as soon as possible and send a message to the instructor so that he can establish a mailing list for the class. Go to the page on CoyoteNet to learn how to establish a user account. Be sure to ask for an account on the Sun/Unix system.

By midterm (24 Oct) 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. The instructor highly recommends the workshops on the Internet and the World Wide Web offered by the staff of I D Weeks Library. See their schedule and sign up right away. Each home page must have at least an email link to the student, a link to the Honors Program site, and a graphic image.

A panel of instructors and honors upperclassmen will judge the best of the home pages. The winner will have his or her books for Honors Western Civilization II paid for next term, courtesy of the Honors Program.

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 Fri 2 Oct.
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 6 Oct
  • 3:00-5:00 Tues 6 Oct
Paper 2, due Fri 30 Oct
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 3 Nov
  • 3:00-5:00 Tues 3 Nov
Paper 3, due Fri 4 Dec.
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 8 Dec
  • 3:00-5:00 Tues 8 Dec

Paper Topics

Read Ahrendt's book first and keep it in mind as you prepare all your written work. Among the issues you should keep in mind as you read these books and prepare your papers are what social purposes legislation and judicial and penal institutions fulfill and how people's understanding of these issues vary by region and time.  More specific issues include where law or different kinds of law come from and why we should (or should not under some circumstances) obey it; how judicial procedures work to display truth and power as well as to discover truth; and how punishment affects or is understood to affect the body politic as well as the body and soul of the criminal.  Always you will use an investigation of particular legal, judicial, or penal issues to investigate their historical contexts.  Follow the suggested questions as a guide to your thinking, not the final organization of your paper.  In the second semester you will continue the theme of law and society by reading such authors as Kafka and Foucault.  Each paper throughout the year should build on what you have learned by writing the previous papers.

  1. The Source and Purpose of Law.
    Read Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Bible, then the three plays of the Oresteia (Fagles's introduction is optional, but an excellent study of Aeschylus's trilogy), and finally Antigone.  Compare the ways the Hebrews and the Greeks thought about where law comes from and the consequences of following and not following it.  Where does the function of judging enter in, and by what authority?
  2. Justice, Personal, Political, Divine.
    Read Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, and Acts 9-27 in the Bible, paying attention to the procedures of Roman judicial institutions and the extent to which they recognize or accommodate Jewish procedures.  How and why do religious and political leaders use the law?  Don't neglect the aspect of public spectacle at certain stages of the procedures.  Then read the following speeches of Cicero, asking the same questions: Against Verres, For Murena, and The Brutus, pp 300-334.   Finally, read the  Revelation in the Bible.  Again, what are the procedures and purpose of judgment?  Write your paper about how people in the first century BCE and CE used legal institutions to secure interests that are personal or collective and about how John the Revelator used his vision of God's judgment to attain certain ends.
  3. Private Lives, Public Life
    Read Montaillou and The Return of Martin Guerre.  Think about why the officers of public institutions became involved in the private lives of individuals both by examining them but also by punishing them.  What were their crimes?  Whom did they harm?  Why might we think them undeserving of punishment?


Part 1: Introduction

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

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

3 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)
8 Sept Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations
10 Sept Mesopotamian Religion
15 Sept Israel, Jahweh, and History; Slides: The City of Jerusalem

Part 3: Greece [Civilization ch 2]

17 Sept Chronology and the Bronze Age (bring chronology sheet)
18 Sept Summaries to Part 2 due; Service-Learing Plan due
22 Sept The Homeric World
24 Sept Early Sparta and Athens
29 Sept Athenian Democracy and its Crises
1 Oct No class; work on paper
2 Oct Paper 1 due
6 Oct Discussions on Paper 1
8 Oct Slides: The City of Athens
9 Oct Summaries to Part 3 due

Part 4: Rome [Civilization chs 3-4]

13 Oct Chronology and Rome's Origins (bring chronology sheet)
15 Oct The Roman Constitution (bring handout on Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy
20 Oct Roman Imperialism
22 Oct The Roman Revolution
27 Oct Rome and the Christians

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

29 Oct Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
30 Oct Paper 2 due; summaries to Part 4 due
3 Nov Discussions on Paper 2
5 Nov Byzantium and Islam
10 Nov Medieval Society and Feudalism
12 Nov Medieval Renaissances
13 Nov Summaries to Part 5 due
15 Nov Opera Omaha: Eric Hermannson's Soul

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

17 Nov Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
19 Nov Renaissance Humanism
24 Nov The Church and Its Reformers
30 Nov Service-learning plan and journal due
1 Dec Discussions on Service Learning
3 Dec Slides: The City of Florence
4 Dec Paper 4 due
8 Dec Discussions on Paper 4
10 Dec Film: The Return of Martin Guerre (plan on meeting until 2:45 this day).
15 Dec Conclusion to fall semester: catch-up and evaluation
Service-Learning Paper due; Summaries to Part 6 due
18 Dec All required work must be submitted by the end of this day

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