BRDH 131
Western Civilization to 1914

Spring 2011


History Department
King's College
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Prof. Pavlac

10-10:50 MWF
Hafey-Marian 301

Tel: (570) 208-5900, ext. # 5748
Fax: (570) 208-5988 
Office: Hafey-Marian 307
Office hours: TT 8:30-10:45 am, Wed 2-3:30 pm,
and by appointment

Purpose | General Requirements | Exams | Maps | Written Assignments

 Grades | Grading Policy | Academic Honesty | Sources

 Presentation | CLASS SCHEDULE

I. Description:

What is the West?  This course on Western Civilization to 1914 can help answer that question. We will survey the main stages of Western Civilization, with an emphasis on concepts, forces, ideas, events, and people that have shaped our society up through the 19th century. In other words, we will examine, through lectures and discussion of readings, how our ancestors and the creators of our culture handled nature, ordered government, structured society, produced wealth, expressed ideas in word and form, and conceived the ultimate meaning of life, the universe, and everything.  

II. Purpose:

A. Mission Statement:

This Core Curriculum requirement is a course in the Civilization category.

This class is an important part of your education!  Civilization courses are designed to explore in some depth the complex dimensions of our world and the cumulative experience of the past, to provide an understanding of how yesterday influences today and the outlook for tomorrow. We study the major developments of Western peoples until the 20th century because most of the problems and institutions of contemporary society have distinguishable roots in the historical past. Moreover, because of the physical and material expansion of the West in the modern period, many of these forms  (capitalist industrial manufacturing, the nation-state system, etc.) have become global in nature.

We offer this course as part of your general education requirements because it is important for educated citizens to be familiar with the main stages of Western Civilization and recognize it as an expanding force which produced important forms of political, social, and economic organization. You should understand that most of the structures within which we order our lives are products of this evolution. Historians believe that past human behavior can be studied scientifically and that social scientists can improve our understanding of people in the present.

Further, whatever your major or career goals may be, throughout your lives you will be deluged with information, opinion, and interpretations about events which you should be able to evaluate critically. Answering questions and solving problems by critical analysis -- not just memorization of data -- is a basic goal of education. Information is just the raw material in this process and, though rational analysis must be based on factual data, memorizing tidbits of information is not an end in itself. Our real goal is to develop concepts which give order and meaning to the raw material of our recorded past. Doing this requires comprehension beyond minimal factual details of past events. Major emphasis will be on patterns, themes, and concepts against which the factual data must be understood.

We hope that upon successful completion of this course you will have improved your understanding of world civilizations and become a more perceptive judge of the data, opinions, interpretations and explanations continuously offered to you. This process, indeed, should last your whole life, since (paraphrasing the observation of the distinguished professional historian Carl L. Becker from 1931) "Ultimately, every person is their own historian."

B. General Learning Outcomes

In addition to the more content-related objectives described below, successful completion of this course will improve your ability:

C. CART Goals

History tells us who we are. This category of the Core develops critical thinking skills in an historical context, helps students reflect on their own heritage, and constructs the cultural knowledge that unites many other areas of the Core. These everyday tools of the historian, which build historical mindedness or literacy, will also serve students well in any field they choose to enter. After taking this course students should be able to:

III. General Requirements

A. Academic Honesty (click here for more information).

Be aware of the academic honesty policy concerning cheating and plagiarism, and your moral, ethical and legal obligation only to submit work completed by you yourself.  For more information see <Help stop Plagiarism!>.  

B. Reading:

Reading is still the best way to learn history.  We will read both a broad survey of history and specific sources in order to better understand the past.  Before class, you will read the texts according to the schedule, below.

First, you will need to purchase these books:

Xenophon, The March Up Country: A Translation of Xenophon's Anabasis (Ann Arbor Paperbacks) Trans. W.H.D. Rouse ISBN-13: 978-0472060955.

Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War. Revised Edition. Trans. G. A. Williamson. Penguin Classics;  ISBN-13: 978-0140444209.

Anonymous, The Song of Roland. Trans. Dorothy L. Sayers. Penguin Classics;  ISBN-13: 978-0140440751.

Bartolome de Las Casas. An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, and Related Texts. Trans. Andrew Hurley. Hackett Pub Co.; ISBN-13: 978-0872206250.

Voltaire. Candide. A Norton Critical Edition. 2nd edition. Trans. Robert M. Adams. W. W. Norton & Company;  ISBN-13: 978-0393960587.

Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days. Enriched Classics Series. Simon & Schuster; ISBN-13: 978-1416534723.

Brian A. Pavlac, A Concise Survey of Western Civilization: Supremacies and Diversities throughout History. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; ISBN-13: 978-1442205543 [listed in the schedule, below as CSWC].

B1. Reading the Survey text:

The Pavlac text provides you with important factual and background information to be read and worked on before class and to be used for review and reference afterwards.

Bring the book to class every day. In all of your courses, you should prudently mark up, underline, highlight, and otherwise annotate your textbooks as you study.  For this class, you are required to do so.
You should critique as you study.  While you are reading, use one or more highlighters or pens to mark up portions of the text.  You might consider different colors for (a) historical facts, terms, dates, (b) important points or details, or (c) key explanatory phrases and sentences.  Write comments in the margins about the following points:

Ask questions about it.  We will discuss it.  After class, regularly through the semester, you should review your class notes and compare them with the texts.   You are to turn in your Pavlac text during each exam to evaluate how well you have marked it up.  The instructor may give open book quizzes to test your reading and comprehension and for review. 

  1. For each of three people or events you choose from that day's reading, write one sentence describing why they are important in history.  
  2. In one short paragraph, sum up the answer to the BIG Question of the day. 

B2. Reading the WebSOURCES:

Second, you will as read modern versions of primary sources, WebSOURCES.  Before class, you will read them according to the schedule, below.  Print out the source, mark it up as you read, write an answer to the boldfaced question (perhaps in the margins or on the back of the page), and bring it to class for discussion. 

As you read and mark it, you may want to answer the following questions:

For more on sources, see <>.

The instructor may give open note quizzes to test your reading and comprehension and for review.  One form may simply be to turn in your source for credit, depending on how well you marked it up according to the instructions above. Or the quizz will will require you to respond to either of two problems: 

  1.  The boldfaced question tied to that day's WebSOURCE.
  2. Another relevant question based on your reading of the WebSOURCE.

B3. Reading the Major Texts

Third, you will as read translations of longer primary sources in their entirety and discuss them. The books are due according to the schedule, below, but since some are lengthy you should get a head start on reading them. Mark them up as you read (perhaps in the margins or in a notebook), noting answers to the study questions below and any more provided by the instructor. Bring the book to class for discussion on the scheduled day.  You will be required to turn in your source for evidence of being marked up.

As you read and mark it, you may want to answer the following questions:

C. Class Participation & Attendance:

Participation and attendance are necessary because lecture and discussion provide the essentials for achieving class goals and objectives. Thus a portion of your grade (about 10%) will depend on your in-class performance and presence, aside from graded quizzes, exams and papers.  You are required to attend each class, arrive on time, remain attentive, maintain proper classroom decorum, respond to questions and participate in discussion and small-group activities. You are encouraged to take notes and ask questions.

Several minor written assignments (a paragraph to one page in length) may also be required as reflections and reactions to class discussion and projects (10 points each).   

Any student who has a learning disability, physical handicap, and/or any other possible impediment to class participation and requirements should meet confidentially with the instructor within the first two weeks of classes to establish available accommodations.  Only with the instructor's permission may class be recorded, only to be used for your own study, and the recordings must be erased after the exams.

If at some point during the semester you must discontinue the course, whether due to poor performance, illness, or some other cause, be sure to follow proper procedures for withdrawal. 

If you miss an exam, contact the instructor as soon as possible. You may take a missed exam only at the discretion of the instructor.  If you miss any quizzes and/or class projects, you may only make them up if you have a legitimate excuse and with the explicit permission of the instructor, who may require any equivalent assignment. 

If you arrive at class late, after attendance is taken, you must personally request that the absence be turned into a tardy mark; otherwise an Absentee Assignment may be required.  Students who need to leave a class early, except for medical emergency, should notify the instructor before class begins.

D. Absentee Assignment:

If you do miss a class, you must complete an Absentee Assignment (in proper presentation format).  If you miss a standard class, you are to write a one-and-a-half-to-two page essay answering the Big Question for that day's textbook reading AND showing how that day's WebSOURCE applies to the reading.   If you miss a class of Major Text discussion, you must write a two-three page essay answering the Question "How does this text illustrate issues of Western identity?" If you miss a review class, you should write a two-three page essay reviewing the changes in forms of government in the period covered.  Deadlines: The assignment(s) should be turned in to the instructor at the beginning of the next class after you return.

 In addition, several absences may directly affect your grade. 

Excused absences due to college activities or extended illness must be authorized by the appropriate college official. You should consult with the professor about making up/turning in missed work in advance or as soon as possible after your return.  After any absence, you are responsible for requesting from the professor hand-outs and already-returned assignments, or borrowing notes from other students.  Whether absences are excused or not, you may not get a higher grade than the percentage of classes attended.

Other absences are unexcused and will lower the class participation portions of your grade.  Remember, though, your health is your first priority.  If you are sick, stay home and recover.  A few unexcused absences will not significantly affect your grade.

E. Exams:

You will take various types of exams:

To study for the exams you should regularly, at least once a week, review your class notes, and refer to the study questions linked below. You should also compare and contrast these notes with your textbook and with the issues and trends emphasized in the class description.  To avoid common exam errors, check this page.  

Study Questions for Exam 1Study Questions for Exam 2Study Questions for Final Exam

D. Major Written Assignments:

You are to write two five-to-six page essays, each of which examines the life of an important person who contributed to Western Civilization or an event which changed history. (25+75 points each)

Historians often hold different, even conflicting, views about people and events in the past.  Examining historical controversies should provide you a better understanding of how historians approach facts and form opinions. You will manage information, evaluate different historical opinions, analyze arguments, organize your thoughts and present them in a clear written form in order to better understand an historical process.

1. Choose a topic from the appropriate list for Paper #1 or Paper #2; [click] here.
You will submit your choice on the date listed in the schedule for each paper, in the proper presentation format (5 points).

2. Carefully research the person/event. Note the two sides to the controversy--you should support one side, the other, or find a decent compromising third position.

3. Refer to at least one printed (not electronic from the internet or CD-ROM) tertiary source (encyclopedia, handbooks, dictionaries, but not the textbook); three printed secondary sources (scholarly, biographical, detailed works, books and/or journal articles written by professional historians and which closely examine the person); and one primary source (which you may access via electronic or printed republished versions). If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of your sources, please see the professor early.
You must turn in, in proper presentation format, after a cover page,
(1) one page with a thesis written as one full complete sentence followed by an outline (at least three main points and a supporting detail or two for each) of your key points; the thesis should be a statement about the controversy and where you have taken a stand;
(2) a page with a pre-bibliography of your sources, in proper format; with
(3) a photocopy for each source in order as listed in the pre-bibliography. For each source you should turn in one photocopied page: tertiary sources the first page of the article; secondary sources the title page of a book or first page of an article; primary sources the first page of a book, website, or the source itself.
Due as listed in the schedule (25 points)This assignment will be evaluated both on the quality of references and the accuracy of bibliographic formatting.

4. Write a careful essay whose thesis argues the controversy. The quality and use of your research from historical books will substantially influence the evaluation of your essay be sure to use them in the body of your paper. The professor is largely interested in the historical arguments on one side or the other. Most major points should be devoted to specifics about the controversy, showing significant influence or impact on history. Be sure to place the controversy in historical context, focusing on how things used to be before, the historical process of change, and/or how this persons life still affects us today. Support all your assertions with proper reasoning and/or details drawn from your sources, properly cited.

5. Rest, review, and revise repeatedly. You might use the Writing Center.  Include a revised bibliography as the last page (do not include the pages with thesis, outlines, or photocopies from previous assignments. Then write a final draft to be turned as listed in the schedule (75 points). 

You must take a quiz on Moodle about your writing assignments.  The links below should provide you with all the information necessary to answer the quiz questions.

E. Deadlines:

Completing assignments on time is an important aspect of your course work.  You yourself must hand in each written assignment at the beginning of class on the dates assigned on your paper syllabus.
The grade of any paper you turn in late will lose at least 10% after the beginning of the first class, 20% after the second, and 35% after the third. No late papers will be accepted after the last day of classes. 

IV. Grading Policy:

You earn your grade through work done for this course.  You are responsible to understand why you have achieved a certain grade and what you can do to maintain or improve your grade.  You are encouraged to consult with the professor during office hours or by appointment both before and after exams and written assignments.  Click here for more information on the parameters of evaluation and grading.

Your final grade will be based on a percentage (above 90%=A, 89-80%=B, etc.) of the sum of the assignments. Different assignments will be worth certain point values.   The following is the weight given to your various learning tasks:

75 for the first exam; 100 for the second exam; and 125 for the final exam;
10 each (30 total) for three map quizzes; 20 each for syllabus and written assignment quizzes
10 each for any in-class quizzes or class project statements;
15 points for each textbook evaluation at each exam;
30 each (60 total) for your written assignment choice, thesis statements, outlines, and pre-bibliographies;
75 each for your written assignments;
75 for your class attendance & participation.

For your protection, in case of errors of recording, you should keep copies of all exams and assignments until you have received official notice of your final grade.  Any and all materials done for this course may become the property of the professor, who may use them for assessment, evaluative, scholarly, or research purposes.  Although the syllabus presents the basic content and requirements of the course, the professor may change anything (e.g. assignments, and topics, due dates) at his discretion.  

VI. Class Topics and WebSOURCES:

The sources and their questions required for each class are in the right hand column in boldface.  Those links [in small type] within [brackets] are not required, but offer valuable information. 

PART I The Study of History and the formation of the Ancient West


Big Questions

Text and pages to read

Links to WebSOURCES

M, Jan 17

What's this course about?


W, Jan 19

How do historians study, divide up, and understand our past?

CSWC, xiii-12

What is History?: Which definition of history most resembles your own, and why?

F, Jan 21

What important cultural survival techniques did our ancestors invent? CSWC, 13-28

Tools: How are tools a combination of both form and function?

M, Jan 24

What did various Middle Eastern civilizations contribute to the foundations of Western Culture? CSWC, 28-47 Code of Hammurabi;
10 Commandments
:  What are the similarities in these two legal codes?

W, Jan 26

How did the Greeks and later Hellenistic rulers succeed and fail in politics? CSWC, 49-69 Pericles' Funeral Oration:  What are the special virtues of Athens and its citizens according to this speech?

F, Jan 28

Major Text: How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity? Xenophon, Anabasis, full text  

M, Jan 31

What Greco-Roman culture unified the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Middle East? CSWC, 64-69, 87-90

Apology of Socrates (from "Strange, indeed...[to] die many times.":  What does Socrates say is his service to Athens?

W, Feb 2

How did Rome grow from a city-state to an empire unifying the Mediterranean? CSWC, 71-90

Augustus:  What are the most important accomplishments listed here and why?

F, Feb 4

How did the new religion of Christianity begin? CSWC, 91-99 Matthew 18:  What are the most important virtues expressed here, and why?
Pliny on the Christians: How do these letters show both the ignorance of and reasonable concern by the Romans about Xty?

M, Feb 7

Major Text:  How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity?

#1 Paper Choice Due

Josephus, The Jewish War, Intro, Chap. 8-23; pp. 9-24, 278-408  

W, Feb 9

How did the Roman Empire fall in the West, yet last another 1000 years in the East? CSWC, 100-108 contra>Roman Imperialism
pro>Roman Imperialism
:  What main argument does each orator use?

F, Feb 11

Review CSWC, xii-108  

M, Feb 14

FIRST EXAM-- Bring your Textbook!   Study Questions for Exam 1

PART IIa The Medieval West


Big Questions/Assignments Due

Text sections to read

Links to WebSOURCES

W, Feb 16

How did the new civilization emerging in Western Europe at the begin of the Middle Ages combine the heritage of Romans and Germans?  CSWC, 109-116 Conversion of Clovis  (You don't have to consider "The Incident of the Vase at Soissons," although it is interesting): What people and events factor into Clovis' conversion? 

F, Feb 18

How did the Franks and the Carolingian family succeed briefly in uniting a Western European empire, but ultimately fail? CSWC, 116-121 Charlemagne:  What details show Charlemagne's human character?

M, Feb 21

 How did the feudal politics and manorial economics help the West recover at the end of the Early Middle Ages?

#1 Paper thesis/outline/pre-bibliography Due

CSWC, 121-126 Homage and Fealty: To whom does Bernard give homage and what specific acts does he promise to do for his new lord?

W, Feb 23

Major Text:  How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity? Anon., Song of Roland, full text  

F, Feb 25

How did more centralized governments form in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages?  CSWC, 127-134 William the Conqueror:  What details show William's methods of rule?   

M, Feb 28

How did the reforms of monks lead to a reform of the wider Church and the creation of the medieval papacy?  

#1 Paper Due

CSWC, 135-142 Life of St. Bernard (You only have to consider the first life, not the one beginning "From the Acta Sanctorum of Arnold...," although it is interesting):  What words describe the monastic life and the Christian faith?

W, Mar 2

How did the popes fight with kings and other religious movements?   CSWC, 142-151 Dictatus Papæ:  To which items would the emperor most object and why?

F, Mar 4

How did the revival of trade & towns change the West during the High and Late Middle Ages?

CSWC, 152-162 Black Death: What are the four different reactions Boccaccio attributes to people in dealing with the plague?  
Conversion of Peter Waldo: How is Peter's conversion story similar to Francis'?; Francis of Assisi: How is Francis' conversion story similar to Peter's?



PART IIb Early Modern Europe


Big Questions

Text sections to read

Links to WebSOURCES

M, Mar 14

How did late-medieval and early-modern monarchs concentrate still more government power? CSWC, 163-171

Trial of Joan of Arc:  What did Joan do to change from a simple country girl to come before the King of France, and why?

W, Mar 16

How did the Renaissance promote the West's transition into modernity? CSWC, 171-176 The Prince, Chapter 18:  How does Machiavelli use the comparison to beasts to apply virtue as a guide for political action?
Rebekka Lemp: How do these letters illustrate the personal and political issues involved in witch hunts?

F, Mar 18

How did the Western Latin Church begin to split apart during the Reformation?

CSWC, 177-182 Luther Against the Peasants: What are Luther's criticisms of the peasants?

M, Mar 21

How did early-modern reforms in religion culminate in wars over religion?

#2 Paper Choice Due

CSWC, 182-188 Pope Pius V's Bull Against Elizabeth:  What are the pope's criticisms of Elizabeth?

W, Mar 23

What new world politics did the "Voyages of Discovery" and colonial imperialism by Europeans create? CSWC, 189-198 Privileges to Columbus: What do the monarchs expect Columbus to do?
Columbus founds cities: What does Columbus expect his colonists to do?

F, Mar 25

Major Text: How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity? De Las Casas, Destruction of the Indies, full text  

M, Mar 28

Review CSWC, xiii-198  

W, Mar 30

Second Exam-- Bring your Textbook!   Study Questions for Exam 2

PART III The Modern World


Big Questions

Text sections to read

Links to WebSOURCES

F, Apr 1

How did the First Scientific Revolution overthrow conceptions about how the world works?

CSWC, 199-204 Galileo: To what does Galileo plead guilty and why?

M, Apr 4

What improvements did Enlightenment thinkers propose for human society?

#2 Paper thesis/outline/Pre-bibliography Due

CSWC, 204-209 Condorcet on Progress: What does Condorcet see will help promote progress?


W, Apr 6

Major Text: How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity? Voltaire, Candide, full text  

F, Apr 8

How did absolutism gain ascendancy in Early Modern Europe? CSWC, 209-217 Louis XIV's court:  What details show Louis human character?
Peter the Great: What are the main characteristics of Peter?
Frederick II on government:How does Frederick's advice compare to the other two monarchs?

M, Apr 11

How did democratic forms of government spread in the West? CSWC, 217-235

Declaration of Independence: What are the three most important reasons, in your opinion, for declaring independence?

W, Apr 13

How did the revolutionaries in France execute political changes?   CSWC, 225-235

Declaration of the Rights of Man: Which rights are actually in place today? Which should or should not be?
Catechism on Napoleon : How has the emperor been reconciled with God?

F, Apr 15

How did competing ideologies offer alternatives in the 19th Century?

#2 Paper Due

CSWC, 247-253 Carlsbad Resolutions: How do the resolutions affect students and their choices?
Syllabus of Errors: How does this list show the reaction against modernity?

M, Apr 18

How did inventions and capitalism produce the Industrial Revolution to which Socialists proposed solutions? CSWC, 237-247, 253-261 Loss of Wool Spinning : What miseries have spinning machines resulted in for women and children?
Gotha Program (1875) : Which doctrines are actually in place today? Which should or should not be?

W, Apr 20

How did naturalistic science generate new and unsettling knowledge in the 19th Century? CSWC, 261-265 Sigmund Freud on Civilization: How is religion a serious enemy of science?
Darwin, Descent of Man: How does the author apply his ideas to human culture?



W, Apr 27

Major Text: How does the text illustrate issues of Western identity? Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days, full text  

F, Apr 29

How did the West come to dominate the world?  CSWC, 267-280

Germans as Huns: How is Text 3 more extreme than Text 2?
Latin America: What actions and attitudes of the North threaten the South?

M, May 2

How did various nationalisms unify and divide Western nations? CSWC, 280-286

Mazzini's On the Duties of Man: How is nationalism supposed to contribute to the welfare of humanity?

W, May 4

How did nationalism spur the decline of the Ottoman Empire? CSWC, 287-291

Young Turks: What elements reflect nationalism and what elements follow liberalism?


FINAL EXAM (should take one hour and fifteen minutes)-- Bring your Textbook! CSWC, xiii-291 Study Questions for Final Exam

Purpose | General Requirements | Exams | Maps | Written Assignments

 Grades | Grading Policy | Academic Honesty | Sources

 Presentation | Class Schedule

Although this syllabus presents the basic content of this course, the professor reserves the right to change anything (e.g. requirement, topics, assignments, due dates, grading policy, etc.) at his discretion, in writing or not. 

Site built, maintained & Copyright MMXI by Brian A. Pavlac
Last Revision: 2011 January 13