Honors Western Civilization
History and the Arts, Part I
Course Description and Schedule

HIST 121 Section 055 (Honors), Fall 1999
12:30-1:45 TTh, Old Main 308

Mr Lehmann
Office Hours: 9-10 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 the arts, prompts reflection upon the ways in which artistic expression emerges out of historical contexts. Our understanding of a work of art depends partly on an understanding of its historical context, and we can use artistic works as evidence for the historical reconstruction of the past.

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).  Finally, students must attend a number of arts-related events, including the WWW design studio (7 Oct), photography studio (19 Nov), the field trip to the Joslyn Art Museum (4 Dec), the performances of Wallace's One Flea Spare (3-7 Nov) and Brecht's The Three-Penny Opera (8-12 Dec), and others to be announced.


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; others are performances that students must plan in their schedules.

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 17 Sept. The completed plan and a journal describing the experience is due in the history office Monday 13 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 Friday 17 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. 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.

By midterm (22 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.  In addition, Prof Jan Hilderbrand from the Mass Comm department will conduct a brief design studio 7 Oct.  Each home page must have at least an email link to the student, a link to the Honors Program site, and a graphic image.

TENTATIVE: 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 1 Oct.
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 5 Oct
  • 7:00-9:00 Tues 5 Oct
Paper 2, due Fri 5 Nov
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 9 Nov
  • 7:00-9:00 Tues 9 Nov
Paper 3, due Fri 3 Dec.
  • 12:00-2:00 Tues 7 Dec
  • 7:00-9:00 Tues 7 Dec

Paper Topics

A major concern will be the investigation of the ways people in Western Civilization have understood that art and experience to relate to each other: how does the one depend on, grow out of, and complement the other?  The Greeks first engaged this question and developed ways of living that derive profoundly from aesthetic experience.  Therefore you should read Pollitt's book first and keep it in mind as you prepare all your written work.  Adams investigated the cultural history of high medieval France in similar ways, and Meiss, more narrowly, late medieval Italy.  Each project should build on the preceding; continue to work earlier material into your newest essays.
In the second semester you will continue the theme of history and the arts by attending operas by Puccini and Saint-Saens and working with Bertold Brecht's Three-Penny Opera, which you will attend this semester.

  1. Life and Art
    Read Pollitt's Art and Experience in Classical Greece, Homer's Odyssey, Pericles' Funerary Speech from Thucydides, Plato's Ion, and Plato's Republic 376E-398B9 and 595-608B10.  The Greeks considered Homer their encyclopedic guide to good human conduct.  Plato challenges that imitative purpose by pointing out inconsistencies in what Homer represents as good conduct, and Pericles offers an alternative view, making utility to the state a more important guide.  Plato also investigates the very nature of aesthetic experience (in the Ion).  Write and essay (or a funeral speech, epic poem, philosophical dialog) in which you evaluate the use of an imaginative work such as Homeric poetry as a guide to proper living; you may like to present an alternative type of guide like Pericles'.
  2. Cathedrals and Music
    Read Adams, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, listen to Josquin's Messe "Pange lingua," and watch Mindwalk and Cathedral.   Those of you unfamiliar with the Mass should read the article on it in The New Catholic Encyclopedia (reference collection, BX841 .N44 1967).  At first glance, these works might convey the stereotypical impression that medieval people were preoccupied with religion.  But is that really the case?  Write an essay (or setting of the Mass or poem or make a video or build a cathedral) in which you show how culturally--and not just spiritually--rich the lives of medieval people could be.
  3. Renaissance Death, Life, and Art
    Read Miess, Painting in Florence and Siena After the Black Death, Shakespeare's Tempest, and attend Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare at the Arena Theater (3-7 Nov).   Miess argues that the art of the fourteenth shows a distinct shift--which he associates with the experience of the Black Death--away from a passive toward an active spirituality.  Study his arguments carefully, scrutinize his illustrations, then turn to Shakespeare's powerful ode to human control of nature and Wallace's return to the stress that plague placed on human society.  Write an essay (or a play, or paint a picture) that shows that human beings at the dawn of the modern era affirmed (or failed to affirm) a greater control over their lives and their world than medieval people had done.


Part 1: Introduction

31 Aug How We Know About the Past, and Why We Study It

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

2 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)
7 Sept Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations
9 Sept Mesopotamian Religion
14 Sept Israel, Yahweh, and History; Slides: The City of Jerusalem

Part 3: Greece [Civilization ch 2]

16 Sept Chronology and the Bronze Age (bring chronology sheet)
17 Sept Summaries to Part 2 due; Service-Learing Plan due
21 Sept The Homeric World
23 Sept Early Sparta and Athens
28 Sept Athenian Democracy and its Crises
30 Sept Slides: The City of Athens
1 Oct Paper 1 due
5 Oct Discussions on Paper 1
7 Oct WWW design studio with Jan Hilderbrand
Meet in 107 Telecommunications Bldg

Part 4: Rome [Civilization chs 3-4]

8 Oct Summaries to Part 3 due
12 Oct Chronology and Rome's Origins (bring chronology sheet)
14 Oct The Roman Constitution (bring handout on Polybius) and the Senatorial Aristocracy
19 Oct Roman Imperialism: The Roman Revolution
21 Oct Rome and the Christians
22 Oct Summaries to Part 4 due
Web page must be complete

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

26 Oct Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
28 Oct Byzantium and Islam
2 Nov Medieval Society and Feudalism
4 Nov Medieval Renaissances
5 Nov Paper 2 due;
9 Nov Discussions on Paper 2
12 Nov Summaries to Part 5 due

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

16 Nov Chronology (bring chronology sheet)
18 Nov Renaissance Humanism
19 Nov Photography Studio with John Banasiak; 3-5 PM Fine Arts 103
Bring favorite photographs, small object of personal value
23 Nov Renaissance Political Thought
30 Nov The Church and Its Reformers
2 Dec Slides: The City of Florence
3 Dec Paper 4 due
4 Dec Tour of  Joslyn Art Museum (plan on the entire day)
7 Dec Discussions on Paper 4
9 Dec Film: The Return of Martin Guerre (plan on meeting until 2:45 this day).
10 Dec Summaries to Part 6 due
13 Dec Service-learning plan and journal due
14 Dec Discussions on Service Learning; course evaluation
17 Dec Service-learning paper due; all required work must be submitted by the end of this day

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