(c) John S. Ott
Portland State University
Fall 2005

HST 101 : History of Western Civilizations
(TTH, 2:00-3:50, CIN 90)

Office: 441-M Cramer Hall
Office hours: W 1-2, or by appt.
E-mail: ott@pdx.edu

Course description

Drawing upon a broad range of primary historical sources written over a period of 2500 years, we will examine the cultures and peoples of Western Eurasia, the Mediterranean, and the Near East from ancient Greece to the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth century.  The cross- and inter-cultural interaction of religious, social, economic, and political communities will comprise the focus of this course.  Its primary objectives are to introduce students to the ideas and values that have shaped our own and other cultures down to the present day, and to equip students with the tools to begin reading, thinking, and writing critically about historical texts and documents.

Course and intended student objectives

• To develop the ability to think historically about culture and cultural change;
• To understand how belief structures reflect and shape social structures;
• To understand the power of myths and foundation stories in explaining and legitimating social structures and humans’ perceptions of the world;
• To foster in students the ability to comprehend and read texts from a contemporary’s perspective, and to think about how they reflect a culture’s ideas and values;
• To enhance student ability to compare worldviews and ideas in their historical contexts;
• To apply these skills in analytical writing assignments, and
• To gain basic content knowledge of the period from ca. 3000 BCE-1500 CE in western Eurasia

Course requirements

Regular attendance at all lectures and discussions is expected.  As you will be held accountable for the content of the readings and lectures on your exams and paper, it is in your interest to stay current and engaged with the course.  You will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Course materials – important!

The following texts are required and are available for purchase at the PSU Bookstore:
Finally, there is an optional textbook, by Mark Kishlansky, et al., Civilization in the West, Part A: To 1500, 6th ed. (Longman, 2006), for purchase at the bookstore.  Students wishing a fuller historical narrative and broader treatment of the topics covered in class are encouraged to purchase it, but it is not required for the course, nor will you be responsible for the material in it.  Remember, too, that most of the texts above may be available more cheaply than at the PSU Bookstore.

Plagiarism policy

Plagiarism, intentional or unintentional, is an intolerable infraction in any setting where ideas are exchanged and discussed.  I routinely uncover plagiarized papers each year.  Detecting plagiarism is extremely easy.  Papers that can be shown to have been plagiarized will automatically receive an “F” grade.  Students will be required to resubmit their papers, and will be deducted in their grade an amount appropriate to the late paper policy given in the assignment guidelines.  Repeated or particularly egregious offenses may be the cause for additional action.  Remember, ignorance is no excuse.  If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism, you may test yourself at this web site maintained by Indiana University: http://www.indiana.edu/~istd/plagiarism_test.htmlI consider as plagiarism work submitted for other courses and turned into me as original, and will ask students to submit new, original work.

Course Syllabus

A (D) indicates that part of the day’s class has been set aside for discussion of the text(s); please prepare assigned readings in advance.  An (R) means the selection may be found in the Course Reader or on reserve at Millar Library.  An (L) indicates a scheduled lecture.

Week One
Tuesday, 9/27
    L1.  Introduction to course themes | Outline |

Thursday, 9/29
    L2.  Foundations of civilization: Mediterranean and Eurasia, ca. 3000 BCE-1200 BCE | Outline |
    L3.  Foundations of civilization: Greek and Hebraic culture | Outline |

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 1-59

Week Two | Study questions for Hesiod |
Tuesday, 10/4
    D1.  Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days (pp. 3-29 [top], 37-61), or On-line at           
    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Hesiod/theogony.html (Works and Days) and
    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Hesiod/works.html (Theogony, to line 885 only); Genesis 1-13:18 (R)
    [NOTE: To get to the start of Works & Days, scroll down]
    L4.  Hellenism’s roots and legacy: Foundational ideas of Greek philosophy  | Outline |
Thursday, 10/6
    L5.  The Roman Republic: Foundations, political and social structures  | Outline |
    L6.  Authority, power, and culture in the Roman Empire | Outline |

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 59-149

Week Three | Study questions for Livy and Suetonius | Study questions for the Gospel of Luke, Acts, and Perpetua and Felicitas |
Tuesday, 10/11
    D2.  Livy, The Early History of Rome, Preface and 1.1-1.17 (On Line)
    Book 1, chs. 1-17: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Liv1His.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1;
    Suetonius, The Deified Augustus (On-line: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/suet-augustus-rolfe.html
    L7.  Foundations of Christianity | Outline |
Thursday, 10/13
    D3.  Gospel of Luke (1.1-9:50; 18:31-end) and Acts 6:7-9:31 (R); Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity (On-line:        

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 149-176

Week Four | Study questions for Augustine and The Qur'an |
Tuesday, 10/18
    L9.  Late Empire and the Germanic kingdoms

Thursday, 10/20
    D4.  Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book I:1-10, 29-36; Book II: 1-7; Book V: 8-22; Book XIX: 12-17 (pp. 5-20, 41-55,             188-218, 866-879) (R)
Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 176-210

Week Five
Tuesday, 10/25

Thursday, 10/27
    L8.  Christianization of the Roman Empire | Outline |
    D4a.  Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book I:1-10, 29-36; Book II: 1-7; Book V: 8-22; Book XIX: 12-17 (pp. 5-20, 41-55, 188-218, 866-879) (R)

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 219-251

Week Six | Study questions for The Song of Roland |
Tuesday, 11/1
    L10.  The emergence and expansion of Islam | Outline |
    D4b. The Qur’an (Suras “The Cessation”; “Man”; “The Merciful”; “Mary”; “The Cow” (R)

Thursday, 11/3
    L11.  Emperor for a new Rome: Charlemagne and the Frankish kingdoms | Outline |
    D5The Song of Roland (read all) (On-line: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Roland/)

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 253-283

Week Seven | Study questions for Lancelot |
Tuesday, 11/8
    L12.  Competing visions of a new world order: the Investiture Controversy | Outline |
    L13.  Spiritual and cultural transformation of medieval society : pushing internal and external boundaries
Thursday, 11/10
    L14.  Emergence of a new ethos: the individual courtly love, romance, and chivalry | Outline |
6.  Lancelot, or, The Knight of the Cart (read all) (On-line: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Lancelot/)

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 283-289

Week Eight (11/15 – 11/17) | Study questions for Aquinas and Hildegard of Bingen |
Tuesday, 11/15
    L15.  New models of governance: law, the king, the nation, the papacy and persecution of dissent | Outline |

Thursday, 11/17
    L16.  The Thomistic synthesis and intellectual life
7. Thomas Aquinas, On Politics and Ethics, pp. 3-33, 44-48, 52-56 (R); Hildegard of Bingen, Holistic Healing, pp. 1-15, 61-69, 72-77 (R)

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 297-319

Week Nine
Tuesday, 11/22
    L17.  The autumn of the Middle Ages? Crisis of authority and ecological disaster | Outline |

Week Ten | Study questions for Machiavelli |
Tuesday, 11/29
    L18.  An age of Renaissance: Fifteenth-century Italy, its social and political structures | Outline |
    L19.  An age of Renaissance: Intellectual and artistic horizons and the dawn of modernity | Outline |
Thursday, 12/1
    D8.  Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (read all) and The Discourses (pp. 98-100 in same vol.)

Optional reading: Civilization in the West, pp. 321-352

***FINAL EXAM: Monday, December 5, 10:15-12:05, CIN 90***