Fall 2008

Syllabus for

History 101: Western Civilization I Section 2

Room 300 T 7:00-9:20


William Caraher                                               

Department of History                                      

Merrifield 209                                                  

Phone: 777-6379

Office Hours: 3:30-5:00 Tuesday and by appointment

william.caraher (at) und.edu




Hello!  And I hope you all had a pleasant and relaxing summer.  The following syllabus outlines the philosophy, procedures, and standards for this class.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me by phone or email or during my office hours. 


It is important to stress up front that this course will have an ESSENTIAL online component.  So, it is crucial that you become familiar and comfortable with the class web site in Blackboard where course material, class discussions, and supplemental material will be posted daily. The web page can be accessed by going to “My UND (Blackboard)” on the University’s main web site (www.und.nodak.edu), and then clicking on the “My UND (Blackboard)” tab under the FOR STUDENTS heading on the left side of the webpage.   It will be essential for you to become comfortable with the course’s website and check it daily. 


The class reading list and syllabus is on the website now!  Consult it today!!


Course Goals:

The primary goal of this class is to familiarize you with the basic skills associated with the historical method.  The core of these skills is the ability to read, write and talk about things that took place before our time and in very foreign cultures.  More importantly, though, this class will help you construct arguments in a comprehensible and convincing way.  Consequently, this class will feature an emphasis on intensive reading coupled with writing and discussing. 


The course goals, then, can be summarized as:

1. To gain a better knowledge of the narrative of Western Civilization, particularly as it relates to our own cultural and political institutions and structures.

2. To develop improved textual interpretation skills through the careful reading and discussion of ancient and medieval texts. 

3. To further refine your ability to express ideas and produce convincing arguments.


Assignments and Grading:

Midterm Exam:             20%

The midterm will be an essay test including material from my lectures and the primary source readings.   The week in which the exam occurs is noted in the following reading list. 

Final Exam:                  30%

This exam will be one midterm exam plus a cumulative essay (i.e. 20% midterm + 10% cumulative essay.).  It must be administered and taken during the scheduled final exam period.


Short Paper:                 20%

Each student is required to write one short (3 page) paper.  There will be 3 short paper assignments due at various times after the first midterm.  These short papers will be based on extended primary sources which will be available on the classes Blackboard web page.  You can write as many of these short papers as you want, and I will take the most recent (i.e. not necessarily the highest) grade.


Participation:               30%

In a class of this size it is almost impossible to evaluate regular, in class participation.  Consequently your participation grade will derive from the vital online component to the class.  Online you will not only be broken into groups who will discuss the primary source readings via a group discussion board, but you will also be able to contribute to a course wiki.



Two books are available at the university bookstore.  They are:

1) P. Crone, Pre-Industrial Civilization. Oneworld Publications 2006.  ISBN: 1851683119.

This is the basic guide to the class.  It is a challenging book, but we will discuss each chapter in turn.  Crone presents a basic model for understanding all preindustrial societies.  Like all models, it is not exact nor it will it fit perfectly each society that we encounter.  Part of the goal of this class is for you evaluate the Crone’s model.


2) T. F. X. Noble, et al. Western Civilization : The Continuing Experiment.  Volume I: to 1715.  Dolphin Edition.  New York 2006. This book is optional and meant almost exclusively as a reference for you.  The “Dolphin Edition” is a slightly cheaper, two-tone version of the textbook.


Primary Source Reader

The Primary Source Reader is available only online in the Documents section of the class’s Blackboard home page.   From the Blackboard site you will be able to access the reader in two formats.  One option will be to download the entire reader as an Adobe PDF file.  To do this, however, you must have Adobe Acrobat reader.  This is available free on the internet.  The file will be rather large, but can be saved on your computer and read there or printed.  The other option is to reader the chapters online as HTML files.  I have divided the reader into individual chapters each which can be downloaded separately through your web browser and read or printed.  Please bring either notes or printed copies of the primary sources into class daily. 



This class will have two discussion components.  Whether the discussion is online or in class it is essential that you treat your fellow students (and me!) with respect. 


Online Discussions: 

The class will be divided into 6 online discussion groups.  Each week I will post questions for the group to discuss in each group’s discussion page in Blackboard.  The reading from the Primary Source Reader will be the basis for the discussion on the class discussion board in Blackboard.  The goal of the online discussion will be to interpret and analyze the documents in the Primary Source Reader.  To get points for online discussion, it will be necessary to refer directly to the documents in the reader and youe fellow students’ posts when discussing the question posed at the beginning of each weekly discussion. 

I expect each student to post at least one time each week.  Posts that do not refer to the primary sources, consider fellow students’ posts, or address the questions posed for the week will not receive credit.  To receive all the participation points, you must REGULARLY post HIGH QUALITY responses both to my questions and your fellow students’ posts.  The more thoughtful and detailed your post is, the better the grade.

The posts will be graded on a 5 point scale:

5 – Thoughtful and detailed post (>10 lines) that takes into consideration not only the readings, but also material from lecture and other students’ posts.  Posts awarded 4s or 5s will show originality in interpretation.

4 – A good use of primary source material and lecture as well as an effort to engage fellow students in discussion.  Posts awarded 4s or 5s will show originality in interpretation.

3 – Short post (4-6 lines) which displays comprehension of the primary sources and some understanding of fellow students’ interpretation. 

2 – Short post (4-6 lines) which shows only a cursory reading and interpretation of the primary source material.

1 – Very short post with no effort to analyze the primary source material or fellow students’ posts.


Course Wiki:

    A Wiki is an easily updated webpage that tracks the edits that are made to it.  In the classes Blackboard page there is a course wiki set up under tools.  I will set up a new wiki page each week (they will become visible under Site Navigation on the right).  These weekly pages will be places where you and your fellow students can summarize the material presented in class, highlight main themes introduced in class, and even propose questions for the midterm and final.  I will consult the wiki pages regularly to see what the class absorbed from my lecture, correct possible misunderstandings, and collect questions for both the midterm and final.  I will also be able to track the students who make changes to the wiki and assign participation grades based on their activity there. 



Readings should be done by class time.  Prioritize the primary source readings from the Primary Source Reader and Crone.  The textbook is a resource.


Crone = P. Crone, Pre-Industrial Civilization.

Civilization = T. F. X. Noble, et al. Western Civilization : The Continuing Experiment.  Volume I: to 1715.  Dolphin Edition.  New York 2006. 

Readings = Primary Source Reader Online.


Week 1: Introduction: What is Western Civilization?

Tuesday August 26th

Civilization, Chapter 1


Week 2: Early Civilization and Pre-Industrial Societies

Tuesday September 2nd


Crone, “Introduction: What is a Complex Society?”, “Socio-economic Organization,” “The State” 1-57.

1.1 Early Civilization

2.1-2.2 Early Greek World

Civilization, Chapter 2


Week 3: Greece

Tuesday September 9th

Readings: 3.1-3.3 The Athenian Empire and the Peloponnesian War

Civilization, Chapter 2-3


Week 4: The Hellenistic World and Roman Republic

Tuesday September 16th

Crone, “Culture,” 81-98.

Readings: 4.1-4.3 The Roman Republic

Civilization, Chapter 3-4


Week 5: The Roman Empire

Tuesday September 23rd

Crone, “The Politics,” 58-80.

Readings: 5.1 Augustus

Civilization, Chapter 5-6


Week 6: Christianity and the Rise of Monotheism

Tuesday September 30th

Crone, “Religion,” 123-143.

Readings: 6.1-6.4: Christian Scriptures and the Earliest Christians

       7.1-7.3 Christians and Rome

Civilization, Chapter 6-7


Week 7: The End of Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Tuesday October 7th

Readings: 9.1-9.2 The Carolingian Era

Civilization, Chapter 8


Week 8 Review and Midterm Exam

Tuesday October 14th


Week 9: Manorialism and Feudalism

Tuesday October 21st  

Readings: 9.3 The Carolingian Era

       10.1-10.4 Feudalism

Civilization, Chapter 9-10

Paper 2 Due


Week 10: Papal Power and Investiture

Tuesday October 28th

Readings: 11.1-11.2 The Investiture Controversy

Civilization, Chapter 9-10


Week 11: The High Middle Ages and The Crusades

Tuesday November 4th  

Readings: 12.1-12.4 The Crusades

Civilization, Chapter 9-10


Week 12: The World of the Town and Heresy

Tuesday November 18th

Crone, “Society and the Individual,” 9-122.

Readings: 13.1-13.3 The World of the Town

Civilization, Chapter 10-11


Week 13: Kings and Popes

Tuesday November 25th

Readings: 14.3 Pope Boniface VIII, The Bull Unam Sanctam

Civilization, Chapter 11


Week 14: Waning of the Middle Ages: The Plague and the 100 Years War

Tuesday December 2nd

Readings: 14.1-14.2 The Black Death and the Later Middle Ages

Civilization, Chapter 11


Week 15: Capstone Lecture and Review

Tuesday December 9th

Crone, “The Oddity of Europe,” 147-175.

Paper 3 Due