Western Experiences in the Era of Modernity

HNRS 204

Cristofer Scarboro 



Anonymous, Scenes and Types - Type of  Moorish Woman

 Photo post card, collection of Malek Alloula


Class Meetings:         Section H1 MWF 1:00-1:50 (H 211)

                                    Section H2 MWF 9:00-9:50 (H 511)

Office:                         H-M 312

Office Hours:              M/W 2:00-3:30; T/Th 8:00-11:00

E-mail:                        cristoferscarboro@kings.edu

Phone:                         208-5900 ext. 5637

Sharepoint:                 http://sharepoint.kings.edu/sites/HNRS204/default.aspx


I.  Course Description


This course will survey Western Civilizations since the three great modern revolutions--the Scientific, Industrial and French--with an emphasis on the social and cultural forces and ideas that have shaped Western societies. In coordination with other honors classes on Art, Literature, Philosophy and Theology, this class will emphasize the political, social cultural and economic perils and possibilities encountered by the “Western World” since the 17th century. Subjects discussed in the class will include such topics as, the invention of the "West" and "Western Civilization" and its perils and possibilities, the revolutionary transformation of daily life by new science and technologies; visions of a global economic interdependence arising out of rapid industrialization and urbanization; new understandings of the world created and mirrored by revolutions in art and literature; the rise of a mass consumer culture; socialism and socialist humanism; feminism; colonialism, decolonialization and the collapse of European Empires; evolutions in understandings of sex and leisure; the creation and disintegration of the Soviet Union and socialist regimes in Eastern Europe; conflicts among evolving, ascendant and declining social classes and interest groups; contestation over cultural forms; liberal democracy and its discontents.


II. Purpose


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 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 have, for good or ill, become global in nature.  Understanding and critiquing the place of western civilization is a fundamental to making sense of the world today.

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 our civilization and have become a more perceptive judge of the data, opinions, interpretations and explanations continuously offered to you. 


III. Course Objectives


Objectives for the student:


  To be familiar with the main stages of civilization as an expanding force which has produced important forms of political, social, economic and cultural organization which are our common heritage.

  To identify major events, persons and ideas which contributed to the development of Western, including American and non-Western, attitudes and institutions.

  To develop concepts which give meaning and order to the raw material of our recorded past.

  To identify and analyze significant problems and situations as they relate to the continuing issues of contemporary life.


Goals for the student:


  To improve understanding of the major events which have influenced the modern world. 

  To understand the influence of the past on contemporary events and problems, or, in other words, to develop Historical Mindedness.

  To be an intelligent consumer and evaluator of information about events in the world.

  To develop a global perspective which recognizes the political, economic and cultural interdependence of all nations.


General Learning Outcomes for the student:


  In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills.  It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

  To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.

  To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.

  To differentiate between facts, opinions and inferences.

  To frame questions so as to more clearly clarify a problem, topic or issue.

  To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.

  To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in written form.

  To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.


IV. General Course Requirements:


A. Course Readings:


Alloula, Malek, The Colonial Harem, University of Minnesota Press, 1986


Freud, Sigmund, Civilization and its Discontents, W. W. Norton, 2005


Mazower, Mark, Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century, Vintage, 2000


Smith, Zadie, Whiteteeth, Vintage, 2001


Spiegelman, Art, Maus: A Survivors Tale: My Father Bleeds History / Here My Troubles Began (Boxed Set), Pantheon; Boxed edition, 1993


Zamyatin, Yevgeny, We, Penguin Classics, 1993


B. Course Films:


Becker, Wolfgang, Goodbye Lenin, Sony Pictures, 2003


Chaplin, Charlie, Modern Times, 1936


Kubrick, Stanley, A Clockwork Orange, 1971


C. Class Participation and Class Attendance:


As well as providing you with the methodological and analytical tools for engaging in historical thinking, this class will ask you to actively take part in a larger conversation of historical issues within the class.  I expect this class to allow us to delve deeply into the historical topics of each week’s readings.  To that end, you need to make sure that you arrive to class on time ready to discuss the weekly readings, having carefully read and thought over the material.  You must take an active role in the class discussions.  Thus a portion of your grade will depend on your in-class performance and presence. 


In a class of this nature it goes without saying that a classroom environment in which everyone feels comfortable is essential.  You should treat your fellow classmates with respect, listen carefully to their comments and respond to them in a polite manner. 


King’s College regards student participation in class as essential to the learning process.  Therefore, regular class attendance is required of all students.  After three unexcused absences your class participation grade will drop a letter grade (from A to B).  Each subsequent absence will result in another letter grade deduction.  Please see the King’s College Student Handbook for policies regarding excusing absences and campus attendance policies.


Students are responsible for making up any work they miss while absent from class.  Work missed should be turned in the day you return from an excused absence (unless otherwise agreed to).  Late work due to an unexcused absence will be penalized a 1/3 a grade (from A to A-) for each day late.


If you miss an exam, contact the instructor as soon as possible.  You may take a missed exam at the discretion of the instructor. 


E. Leading Class Discussion:


You will be responsible for leading class discussion twice during this semester.  This will entail reading the assigned text, song collection or film closely, arranging a list of topics and themes to discuss in class and preparing a series of questions to discuss during class.  You will e-mail a list of 8-10 questions to me and your classmates no later than 5:00 the evening before class so that we will have time to reflect on them and prepare responses.  


F. Written Assignments:


This class has two required written assignments: a research paper and a film or book review.


On the first day of class you will chose two other people with whom you will be working closely together both in preparing for your paper and in preparing and presenting your final group project.  Your first paper topic will be closely coordinated with the other two members of your group as part of a larger theme that will link all three of your papers and the larger group project.  As a group you will meet with me either January 28th to chose your topics and lay the foundation for the rest of the semester’s group work.  Your individual papers will all contribute to the final project so you should be sure to closely collaborate with your peers.


General paper topics and sub-topics are listed here


You will turn in four copies of your paper (one for me and each of your group mates) on April 4th; the final draft is due April 23rd.


Your second writing assignment is a film or book review.  You review which should be 2-3 pages is to interpret one of the texts from this class.  You are to place the film or book in historical context, analyze and interpret its message and meaning.  This review will be due in class at any time before April 30th


G. Final Group Presentation


You will chose your final group project in your first meeting with me on January 28th and will be working on it in some fashion the entire semester.  Your papers will all deal with some aspect of the project and give you the foundation for the final in class presentation to be held the last meetings of the class.  Your project will be allotted for 20-25 minutes with a question and answer session to follow.  You project should be multi-media and can include power-point images, music and video clips.  Like your paper your final Project will take place in several steps:


1)      On April 14th the group will meet with me to plan the final preparations work for the group project. 


2)      On April 21st the group will present a written plan prospectus for the final project including detailed outlines of the topics covered and responsibilities designated to each group member.


3)      Your final group presentation will be during from April 25th through the 30thAfter the presentation you will be required to turn in a letter grade for each of your group-mates’ work on the project.  This grade will factor into the final grade of each member for his/her work on the project. 


H. Exams:


This class will also require a midterm examination (held in class on Mar. 2nd) and a final examination to be held during finals week.  These will consist of both essay and short answer material and will further ask you to interpret texts as we have been doing in class. 


I. Grading:


It is your responsibility to understand why you have achieved a certain grade, and what

steps you can take to maintain or improve your grade.  You should consult with the

instructor during office hours or by appointment before and after exams and written



For your protection, in case of errors in record keeping, you should keep copies of all

exams and assignments until you have received official notice of your final grade.


**Your final grade will be based on the following percentages


**Your final grade will be based on the following percentages


100-98 A+
97-95 A
94-92 A-
91-89 B+
88-85 B
84-83 B-
82-80 C+
79-77 C
78-75 C-
74-70 D
69< F



**Your grade distribution for assignments is as follows:


Class Part. / Leading Discussion 20%
Research Paper 30%
Film / Book Review 15%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 25%


J. Academic Integrity:


The Department of History adheres to guidelines on academic integrity outlined in the Student Conduct Code in the Student Handbook:  http://www.kings.edu/student_handbook/studentregulations_rights/conductcode.htm


Cheating and plagiarism will be penalized in accord with the penalties and procedures indicated in that source.  All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the definition of these infractions of academic honesty.


K. Disabilities:


King’s College and this instructor will make every effort to accommodate students with a bona-fide disability that impacts on their ability to learn the course material.  Please meet with me privately so that appropriate arrangements can be made to help in the learning process.


IV. Course Schedule:


I.                  The Birth of the Modern



Monday, January 14th


What is the “West”? What is “Civilization”?  What’s the Point?

Wednesday, January 16th


The Political, Social and Cultural World of the 18th Century:

Absolutism and Enlightenment

Friday, January 18th

**Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment?, 1784 <http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/kant.html>

**J. S. Bach, Fugue No. 4: C Sharp Minor, 1747


**Sharepoint:  "Gardens of Versailles"


Discipline and Punish

Monday, January 21st 

**Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punnish, 1976

        Part I. "Torture: the Body Condemned" <http://foucault.info/documents/disciplineAndPunish/foucault.disciplineAndPunish.torture.en.html>

        Part III. "Panopticism" <http://staff.kings.edu/cristoferscarboro/Panopticism.htm>


Birth of the Modern, Part I: the Scientific Revolution

Wednesday, January 23rd

**The Crime of Galileo: Indictment and Abjuration of 1633 <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1630galileo.html>


Birth of the Modern, Part II: the French Revolution and the Birth of the Nation

Friday, January 25th

**Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789 <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/rightsof.htm>

**Johann Gottfried von Herder, Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (excerpts), 1784



No Class:  Group Meetings in my office for Paper and Group Assignments

Monday  January 28th


Birth of the Modern, Part III:  the Industrial Revolution

Wednesday, January 30th

Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of the Manufacturers, 1835 <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1835ure.html> 


Birth of the Modern, Part IV: Colonialism

Monday, February 4th


Discussion:  Malek Alloula, Colonial Harem

Wednesday, February 6th



H2: Janelle Adams


The Making of the Western Middle Class and the Marxist Critique

Friday, February 8th

**Sharepoint: The Great Exhibition of 1851

**Freidrich Engels, Conditions of the Working Class in England, 1844 (excerpts) <http://www.cis.vt.edu/modernworld/d/Engels.html>


Jonathan Malesic Guest Lecture

Monday, February 11th


Empire in Europe / Europe in Empire and the Rise of European Nationalism

Wednesday, February 13th

**Mazower, 41-75

**Johann Gottlieb Fichte, To the German Nation, 1806 <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1806fichte.html>

**Sharepoint: Europe in Empire /Empire in Europe


II.  Assault on the Modern:  The Modern and the Absurd


Discussion: Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Friday, February 15th


H1: Alaine Schuster

      Matt Deegan

H2: Alison McManus


Discussion: Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Monday, February 18th


H1: Alaine Schuster

      Matt Deegan

H2: Alison McManus


World War I and the Death of the Modern (?)

Wednesday, February 20th

***Assignment:  Visit http://www.firstworldwar.com/posters/index.htm and chose three World War I posters that you would like to discuss in class.  E-mail them to me no later than Sunday, Feb. 19th at 5:00.  Be prepared to help analyze your posters with the rest of the class.



Friday, February 22nd



The Revolutions in Russia

Monday, February 25th


Discussion:  Zamyatin, We

Wednesday, February 27th


H1: Gareth Henderson

       Rachael Gaydos

H2: Mark Zurek


The Great Depression and the Crisis of the Mind

Friday, February 29th

**Mazower 104-137

***Assignment:  Research Dadaism and Surrealism on-line:  chose three pictures from either:  http://www.peak.org/~dadaist/Art/index.html  or http://www.surrealist.com/art.aspx  E-mail them to me no later than Sunday, Feb. 26th at 5:00.  Be prepared to help analyze your paintings with the rest of the class.



Discussion: Chaplin, Modern Times

Monday, March 10th


H1: Ryan Donovan

       Rachael Hoffnagle

H2: Nick Etzold



High Stalinism

Wednesday, March 12th

***Assignment:  Visit http://www.katardat.org/russiarts/1919/index.html and chose three paintings that you would like to discuss in class.  You will be assigned a year to focus on.  E-mail them to me no later than Sunday, March 9th at 5:00.  Be prepared to help analyze your paintings with the rest of the class


Socialist Realism

Friday, March 14th

**Sharepoint:  Socialist Realism 1920s and 1930s


Fascism and Degenerate Art

Monday, March 17th

**Mazower, 76-103

**Sharepoint: "Degenerate Art"


The Holocaust and the Death of the Modern (!)

Wednesday, March 26th

**Mazower, 138-181

**The Jager Report, 1941 <http://fcit.usf.edu/Holocaust/resource/document/DocJager.htm>

**Sharepoint: Elwira Bauer, Trust no Fox on his Green Heath


Discusison: Spiegelman, Maus I and II

Friday, March 28th


H1: Laura K. Sposato

       Keri Ann Stevenson

H2: Mark Zurek


III.  Postmodernism and its Discontents


“Sovietization” and “Normalization” in Europe

Monday, March 31st

**Mazower 250-326


The Ironies of Normalcy:  Pop Art and Sots Art

Wednesday, April 2nd

**Mazower 250-276 (cont.)

**Sharepoint:  Pop Art and Sots Art


Discussion: Bob Marley and Question of Decolonialization

Friday, April 4th

**Music: Bob Marley

**Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, 1955 <Between Colonizer and Colonized>


H1: Jessica Woodin

       Sam Mraz

H2: Janelle Adams

***Rough Draft Due***


Discussion: 1968

Monday, April 7th

**Sharepoint: Paris 1968 (Graffiti and Posters)


H1: Maria Walpole

       Ashley Beebe




Wednesday, April 9th

**Mazower, 327-360

**Music:  Punk Rock and Vysotski

**Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Address at Harvard University, 1978 <http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/solzhenitsyn/harvard1978.html>


Discussion:  Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange

Friday, April 11th


H1: Alan Matusiewicz

       Daniel Carle

H2: Nick Etzold


Group Meetings in Preparation for the Final Project

Monday, April 14th


1989 and 1991

Wednesday, April 16th

**Mazower 360-394


The “End of History” (!) (?)

Friday, April 18th

**Mazower 395-403

**Francis Fukuyama,"The End of History?" from the National Interest, 1989 <http://www.wesjones.com/eoh.htm



Discussion: Becker, Good Bye Lenin

Monday, April 21st


H1: Cara Verzain

       Elizabeth Wendlowski

H2: Alison McManus

***Prospectus for Group Projects due***


Discussion:  Zadie Smith, White Teeth

Wednesday, April 23rd


***Final Papers Due***


Group Presentation

Friday, April 25th


Group Presentation

Monday, April 28th


Group Presentation

Wednesday, April 30th