History 205: European History from Antiquity to 1700 Dr. Carolyn Aslan

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History 205: European History from Antiquity to 1700
Dr. Carolyn Aslan
Office: SOS 236, phone ext. 1511
e-mail: [email protected]
The course will examine major developments in early European history by
studying different sources of information including historical texts, art, architecture, and
archaeological evidence. Some issues that we will explore include developments in the
classical period and their continuing legacy, the beginnings and spread of Christianity,
politics and religion in the Middle Ages, intellectual and artistic developments in the
Renaissance, religious transformations during the Reformation, and state building and
scientific developments in the early modern era. Writing assignments and discussions
will focus on developing skills in interpreting historical texts and other evidence.
Grading:
Essay 1: 20%
Essay 2: 20%
Research paper 30%
Class presentation on research topic 10%
Class participation: 20%
Readings and Class discussions
The textbook for the class is Western Civilizations by J.G. Coffin et al. There is an
additional set of readings for the course specifically for the class discussions and essay
assignments that is on reserve and e-reserve at the library. Although discussions will be
held throughout the semester, special time will be spent on in-depth discussion of certain
texts, which will also be the subjects of the essay assignments. The class participation
grades are based on student’s preparation and participation in discussions and can also
include in-class writing assignments or quizzes based on the readings.
Essays
There are two written essay assignments for the course. For each assignment the
student should chose one of the essay topics that interests them. The topics are listed on
the following pages and are intended as opportunities to examine a particular primary
source in depth and to consider problems and issues with interpreting that source. The
essays should be 3-4 pages (double-spaced, typed). The papers are due throughout the
semester on the same date that we will discuss the subject in class. Therefore there is no
one due date for the assignment, but multiple due dates throughout the semester. Students
are free to pick the topic they want, and they must hand in the paper at the beginning of
the class period when we are discussing that topic. Only the sources in the reader should
be used to write the essays.
Research Paper and Class Presentation
One of the main learning exercises in the course is a research project consisting of
a research paper and a class presentation. Students will be randomly assigned a time
period to research and they will need to chose a topic relating to that time period. The
paper should be 8-10 pages long with a bibliography of at least 10 sources. Use MLA
format for bibliography and citations. At least one primary source should be used for the
paper. The class presentation should be 5-10 minutes long and use visual material. The
papers are due on Nov. 21. The schedule for the presentations will be determined
according to the time period of the topic.
Writing assignment policies
Students are expected to do their own work on all the writing assignments and to
follow the university rules on plagiarism and cheating. For all written assignments, you
have the option to rewrite the assignment in order to improve your writing and correct
your mistakes. If there is significant improvement, the grade will be increased. Students
can rewrite the assignments multiple times, but no rewrites will be accepted after Dec.
26.
Book Discussion Group: Optional Bonus Points
Students have the option of joining a book discussion group to discuss the book:
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. The group will meet once a week (time will
be determined later) and the discussion will by moderated by a graduate student teaching
assistant. Students who attend and participate can receive bonus points (up to a total of 10
points) depending on their participation. The bonus points will be added to the discussion
part of their grade.
Schedule
Sept 19:
Introduction to the course, Earliest cultures in Europe (Palaeolithic,
Neolithic)
Sept. 21
The ancient Mediterranean Bronze age cultures – Minoans, Mycenaeans
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 68-79.
Sept 26:
Ancient Greece – Protogeometric – Archaic periods
Troy, Homer and the cultural impact of the Trojan epics
Reading: primary sources: selections from Homer: the Iliad and
the Odyssey (in reader)
Western Civilizations p. 82-85,117-134
Sept 28:
Ancient Greece – Archaic - Classical period
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 135-152
Class discussion of Herodotus
Reading: primary source: Herodotus Histories, p. 3-19, 30-33.
Secondary sources. Donald Lateiner “Five Systems of
Explanation,” James Romm “Introduction: Myth and History” (in
reader)
Oct 3
Ancient Greece – Classical-Hellenistic period
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 156-180
Primary sources: selections from the Lysistrata, Medea, Antigone,
Tereus (in reader)
Oct. 5
Roman Republic
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 184-201
Oct. 10
Emperor Augustus, expansion of the empire
Readings: primary source: selections from Virgil, The Aeneid (in
reader)
Western Civilizations p. 201-207
Oct. 12:
Early Christianity
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 227-232.
Class discussion of the gospel of Mary
Reading: primary source “The Gospel according to Mary
Magdalene,” secondary source: selections from Karen King The
Gospel of Mary Magdela
Oct. 17:
Roman Civilization: city life, art, architecture, literature
Readings: primary courses: selections from Plutarch “Life of Cato
the Elder,” Horace, Satires , Ovid, Amores (in reader)
Western Civilizations p. 209-217
Oct. 19
Fall of Rome
Barbarian invasions
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 217-242, 262-269
Oct. 23
no class, holiday
Oct. 26:
summing up – Greco-Roman culture
Nov. 2
Byzantine empire
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 250-255.
Class discussion of Procopius’ Secret history
Readings: Primary source: selections from Procopius, The Secret
History
Secondary sources: G.A. Williamson, “Introduction, Procopius the
Secret History”
Lynda Garland, Byzantine Empresses – Theodora
Nov 7
Byzantine empire, growth of Islam
Reading: Western Civilizations p.262-269
Primary source: the Pact of Umar (p. 274)
Nov. 9
Early Middle Ages
Early kingdoms, Charlemagne, Pope Gregory I
Reading: Western Civilizations 283 - 298.
Primary source: The Burgundian Code (in reader)
Nov. 14
Medieval church and state
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 283-288
Class Discussion of Benedict and monasteries
Reading: Primary sources: “the Rule of Saint Benedict,” Gregory I:
“Life of St. Benedict”
Secondary sources: C.H. Lawrence. Medieval Monasticism ch. 1-2.
Nov. 16:
The Vikings, Medieval trade and economy
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 301-312
Nov. 21:
Crusades
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 312-322
Nov. 23:
European Kingdoms, Norman conquest of England
Class Discussion of Bayeux tapestry
Primary source: images of the Bayeux tapestry
Secondary source: W. Grape. “The Bayeux Tapestry”
Nov. 28:
Feudalism, medieval economy
Reading: primary source: “the Magna Carta” in reader
Western Civilizations p. 327-333
Nov. 30
Medieval culture – literature, art, architecture
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 363-380
Class discussion of courtly love
Primary sources: selections from Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot,
Andreas Capellanus De Amore
Secondary sources: D. Kelly, Medieval French Romance, p. 120129, F. Mount “The Troubadour Myth”
Dec. 5:
Medieval Religion, the Investiture conflict, St. Francis
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 345-363
Dec. 7:
Late Middle Ages – 14th cent., The Black Death, Hundred Years’ War
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 384-421
Primary sources: Jean de Venette on the Progress of the Black
Death, Boccaccio: The Decameron – Introduction.
Dec. 12:
Age of Exploration
Christopher Columbus, Portuguese explorers, Spanish conquest
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 428-449
Class discussion of Christopher Columbus
Primary sources : Christopher Columbus, Extracts from Journal,
Letter to the King and Queen of Spain”
Secondary sources: W. H. McNeill “Introduction,” M. Falcoff “
Modern Attacks on Columbus are unwarranted,” S.S. Harjo
“Modern Attacks on Columbus are Justified,” R. Irvine and J.
Goulden “History Should Continue to Acknowledge Columbus as
a Discover.” M. Marable ”History Should Acknowledge Columbus
as a Ruthless Exploiter”
Dec. 14:
Renaissance
Reading: Western Civilizations p.454-485
Primary source: excerpts from Macchiavelli, The Prince
Giorgi Vasari: Life of Leonardo da Vinci
Dec. 19:
Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 487-516
Primary sources: Raimon de Cornet, Poem Criticizing the Avignon
Papacy, Martin Luther: Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz.
Class discussion of witchcraft and magic
Readings: Primary sources: “Witchcraft documents” “Aecerbot
Ritual,” Caesarius of Heisterbach “The Eucharist as a Charm”
Secondary sources: R. Kiechhefer “ Introduction: Magic as a
Crossroads, ” S. Brauner “ The Modern Witch” Concept History,
Context” p. 3-41.
Dec. 21:
Religious wars and State Building,16th –17 cent.
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 519-536
Dec. 26:
Society and economy in the 16th-17th centuries
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 536-550, 557-591
Dec. 28:
Age of Absolutism, French monarchy, Louis XIV, Scientific revolution
Reading: Western Civilizations p. 594-600, 607-612, 630-647.
Essay assignment topics
For each of these topics I have chosen one or more primary sources that pose challenges
or problems in terms of historical interpretation. I have also provided some secondary
sources that discuss at least one way of interpreting the texts. Your job in the essay is to:
1. First read the text and think about how to interpret it. Consider the following
questions: Why it may be difficult for an historian to use or interpret it? What
do you think possible biases might be? Who wrote it and what point of view
might they be giving? What kind of a text is it and why do you think it was
written. Who was meant to read it?
2. Despite the possible problems, think about what types of information it can
provide historians? What kind of information does it give about the time
period and that society?
3. Read the secondary source and think about whether you agree with their
interpretation. What other issues do they discuss?
4. Finally write an essay with your critical assessment of this source. The essay
is meant to be your own interpretation of the source and a discussion of the
challenges and issues with the use of the source as an historical document.
The essays should be 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced. Essays need to be handed in at the
beginning of class on the due date. If you miss the deadline for one essay assignment, you
can do the next assignment instead. Students are expected to do their own work
independently. Only use the sources that are provided in the reader. Do not use internet
sources.
Grading
The essays will be graded according to the following criteria
1. How well does the student understand the source and the information and
viewpoint it provides
2. How well does the student present a sophisticated analysis of the issues
involving in interpreting and using the source for historical information
3. How well does the student express their ideas in their writing – is the writing
clear and logically organized, are there few grammar or spelling mistakes
Description of topics
Herodotus (due date: Sept. 28)
Herodotus is an ancient Greek historian who has been called both ‘the
Father of History” and “the Father of Lies.” In this assignment issues include the
relationship between history and myth, and the different ways that Herodotus
interprets historical events. How are these similar to or different from modern
historians?
Reading: primary source: Herodotus Histories, p. 3-19, 30-33.
Secondary sources. Donald Lateiner “Five Systems of
Explanation,” James Romm “Introduction: Myth and History”
Early Christianity and the Gospel of Mary (due date: Oct. 12)
The Gospel of Mary is an early Christian source that was not included in
the Christian Bible. It is said to record sayings of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. In
recent popular literature (Dan Brown, the DaVinci code), sources such as these
and other Gnostic gospels are presented as shocking revelations that the church
wants to cover up. Why would some consider this source shocking? Why might it
not have been included in the Bible with the other saying of Jesus? How might a
scholar interpret sources such as these and other Gnostic sources.
Reading: primary source “The Gospel according to Mary Magdalene”
Secondary source: selection from The Gospel of Mary Magdala by
Karen King
Procopius’ Secret history (due date: Nov. 2)
Procopius is the author of official court histories of the Byzantine
empire during the reign of Justinian. He also wrote this source called the
Secret history filled with scandalous gossip about the royal family. Issues
with this source include questions of why he wrote it and who might have
read this source. Also consider how reliable this “gossip” might or might
not be compared with an official history.
Readings: Primary source: selections from Procopius, The Secret
History
Secondary sources: G.A. Williamson, “Introduction,”
Lynday Garland, Byzantine Empresses – Theodora
St. Benedict and monasteries (Nov. 14)
The development of a system of monasteries with monks and nuns
following a regulated religious life was an key development in the late
Roman empire and early Middle ages. St. Benedict is said to be an
important person in the establishment of this tradition and a set of
monastic rules and regulations is attributed to him. Pope Gregory I wrote a
‘biography” of Benedict. How does Gregory’s “biography” compare to
biographies by modern historians. What are the messages that Gregory is
trying to send Christians through his biography? Why might Christians be
attracted to the monastic lifestyle? How much do we really know about St.
Benedict?
Reading: Primary sources: the Rule of Saint Benedict, Gregory I
“Life of St. Benedict”
Secondary sources: C.H. Lawrence. Medieval Monasticism ch. 1-2.
Bayeux tapestry (Nov. 23)
The Bayeux tapestry is an amazing piece of artwork, but it is also
an important historical document. The tapestry depicts the Norman
invasion of England. What types of information can be learned from the
tapestry. Why are the details about its manufacture important for
interpreting the reliability of this source? It is a good idea to look at the
color photographs in the book by W. Grape on reserve at the library.
Primary source: images of the Bayeux tapestry
Secondary source: W. Grape. “The Bayeux Tapestry”
Courtly love (Nov. 30)
In the middle ages a literary tradition known as the “romance”
began that includes some now famous stories such as Guinevere and
Lancelot. Some people have claimed that the whole idea of love and
romance was created in this time period, while others disagree. Look at
how love and romance is portrayed in these sources and some of the
limitations in investigating medieval concepts of love from these sources.
Primary sources: selections from Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot,
Andreas Capellanus De Amore
Secondary sources: D. Kelly, Medieval French Romance,
F. Mount “The Troubadour Myth” M Delahoyde “Courtly
love” and “Andreas Capellanus”
Christopher Columbus and the age of discovery (Dec. 12)
Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure. Traditional
western history books portray him as a hero who discovered the
Americas. From a non-western perspective he is seen as the
beginning of European conquest and destruction of native cultures.
What are the debates on both sides? What do Columbus’ own
writings say about his motivations for exploration and his
encounters with native peoples?
Primary sources : Christopher Columbus, Extracts from Journal,
Letter to the King and Queen of Spain”
Secondary sources: W. H. McNeill “Introduction,” M. Falcoff “
Modern Attacks on Columbus are unwarranted,” S.S. Harjo
“Modern Attacks on Columbus are Justified,” R. Irvine and J.
Goulden “History Should Continue to Acknowledge Columbus as
a Discover.” M. Marable”History Should Acknowledge Columbus
as a Ruthless Exploiter”
Witchcraft and magic (Dec. 19)
In the16th and 17th centuries, trials and executions of women
accused to be witches occurred in Europe and America. What were
medieval and early modern concepts of magic and witches?. How
are magic, religion and science closely intertwined? Why were
women specifically targeted for practicing bad magic during this
time period?
Readings: Primary sources: “Witchcraft docments” “Aecerbot
Ritual,” Caesarius of Heisterbach “The Eucharist as a Charm”
Secondary sources: R. Kiechhefer “ Introduction: Magic as a
Crossroads, ” S. Brauner “ The Modern Witch” Concept History,
Context”
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