CORE 131

Western Civilization to 1914

Dr. Nicole Mares



Instructor: Assistant Professor Nicole Mares

Office: Hafey-Marian 308


Phone: (570) 208-5900 ext. 5489

Faculty Webpage:

Course Webpage:

Sections:  (A) MWF, 8 AM

                 (B) MWF, 9 AM

                 (J) TR, 2 PM

Office Hours: Tues, Wed, 11-1; Fri 10-11


Required Texts (Available for purchase from the Bookstore):


B. A. Pavlac, A Concise Survey of Western Civilization: Supremacies and Diversities

 throughout History (2011)

Procopius, The Secret History Penguin 2007 ISBN: 978-0-140-45528-1

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies Persea Books 1982 ISBN: 978-0-892-55230-6

Gluckel of Hameln, The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln Schocken Books 1977 ISBN: 0-8052-0572-1

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007 ISBN: 978-0-312-44203-3
Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England Oxford, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-19-955588-8


I. Description:

Where did our culture come from? This course on Western Civilization 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 parts of western society through the 19th century. In other words, we will examine, through lectures and discussion of readings, how westerners 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.  

In this brisk, one-semester survey of western societies we will focus on some cultural constants: conflict, inequality, "progress," oppression, and corruption.  We'll investigate the things that link people today to the cultures of the past.  We'll also seek out the voices of resistance and revolution. Sometimes the experiences of "outsiders" give us the best insights into the historical past.

II. Purpose:

A. Mission Statement:

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


Studying humanity's past, its hopes and frustrations, failures and triumphs, helps us both to understand our complex world and to take responsibility for shaping its future. Vital to the education of professional men and women of the 21st century, historical literacy and methodology improve our ability to judge and decide both private and public issues in a context of respect for our own and other peoples' traditions. Only through a critical examination of human experience can we hope to avoid repeating mistakes and to build on successes, or assign meaning to our condition. These courses will develop critical thinking skills in an historical context, help students reflect on their own historical heritage, and build the cultural knowledge that unites many other areas of the Core.


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

·         To organize and synthesize data.

·         To differentiate between facts, opinions, and inferences.

·         To frame questions and formulate theses about problems.

·         To compare, contrast, and evaluate the relative merits of arguments and interpretations.

·         To organize and communicate thoughts effectively in verbal and written form.


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:

·         To be familiar with the main stages of history within cultures and their particular forms of political, social, economic, and cultural organization.

·         To identify and understand major events, persons, and ideas that have changed or reflected the history of civilization.

·         To engage critically with historical thinking and methodologies whose concepts and theories give meaning and order to the raw material of our recorded past.

·         To evaluate actively a variety of sources while placing them in context.


III. General Requirements


Our Responsibilities: We are all responsible for the success of this course. 

It is my responsibility to guide you in learning the objectives of the course, to give clear presentations and encourage your participation, to explain assignments and grade them appropriately, to return assignments in a timely fashion and to make myself available to you. 

It is your responsibility to read the material, reflect on it, and be prepared to ask critical questions.  Being familiar with the class policies and schedule, reading, doing the homework, actively taking notes, and listening to the ideas of others are your contributions to the success of this class. 


Syllabus:  In order to adapt to our classroom’s needs and schedule, this syllabus will remain subject to change.  Assignments may be changed, added, or deleted over the course of the semester.  I will always let you know when I make changes to the syllabus.  Assignments are to be completed by the date listed on the syllabus.


Readings: Students are required to purchase or rent the texts listed above.  I have taken time to select readings that represent a variety of eras and genres so that you as students are exposed to many different types of primary sources (the essential tool of the historian).  Whether a primary source is a biography, political treatise, or work of fiction, it informs us about who historical actors were and what their society thought was important or noteworthy.  No matter the genre, we'll experience these works as historians would--as a way to better understand the historical past.
Many of our shorter primary-source readings will come from the Internet History Sourcebook ( I highly recommend you bookmark this page, as it will not only make it easier to find our assigned readings, but it will also be invaluable to you as you conduct research for your short essay assignment.


Our Classroom Environment:  Please arrive on time and conduct yourself in the classroom as you would in any professional environment.  If you use a laptop to take notes, please stay on task and only takes notes.  Do not text during class.  I will ask you to leave the class for the day and your attendance will be recorded as an unexcused absence.   Finally, make sure the ringers on your phones are off.

There are no bad questions. Always ask if you have a question. If you are not comfortable asking in class, you may always ask me after class or during office hours. Or you may email me questions.

We must respect each other and our differences while in the classroom.  This class is an open forum, a place where every member of the class has the opportunity and should feel comfortable raising questions, voicing opinions, and engaging in debate.  Disrespect will not be tolerated.  You are encouraged to voice your disagreement with my interpretations or with the views of your classmates as long as you do so in a scholarly, respectful and informed fashion.

         We are all adults and I expect that we will all behave as such. While I hope that we are able to engage in lively conversations about the course topics and readings, please keep conversations focused on the class.  Please respect the people with whom you share the class and be open to their ideas and opinions.  If you’re not comfortable with a topic, or talking in class, please come talk to me at my office.   Finally, remember this is a classroom; we are all here to learn.  In order to learn, we all need to be able to focus on the course materials and the lecture or discussion. 


Attendance and Participation: Attendance is mandatory.  Please arrive to class on time out of respect for your classmates and myself.  If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, your attendance for the day will be recorded as an unexcused absence.  Excused absences, according to the instructor’s discretion, fall into the category of severe illness, family emergency, or official school events that conflict with our meeting time.  All other absences will be considered unexcused, except in special circumstances.  If you know you will have to miss a class, be sure to speak with me.  After one unexcused absence, your participation grade will be reduced by 1% for each subsequent unexcused absence.  Likewise, if you are not in class you are unable to submit work or participate in group discussions and exercises.


Educational Services: If at any point in the semester you feel you need extra help, more explanation, etc., do not hesitate to ask me.  There are many great resources on campus, too, that can help.  The Academic Skills Center and the Writing Center are available to you.

For students with diagnosed, documented learning disabilities, please be sure to check in with the Academic Skills Center.  They can help you establish “appropriate plans to meet your educational needs” here at King’s College.  The Center is located on the lobby floor of Mulligan.


Late Assignments: If you are not in class the date an assignment is due, I strongly encourage you to turn in the assignment as soon as possible.  If your absence is considered excused, you may turn in your assignment at the next class meeting without penalty.  If your absence is unexcused, you must turn in a paper copy of the assignment.  Every day the assignment is late, the letter grade will be reduced by one-third.  For example, if the assignment earns an 87%, but is three days late the final grade will be an 80%.  Do not e-mail assignments to me unless you have previously arranged to do so. 

Late assignments will be accepted up to 1 week after the assignment’s original due date, but not after, except in specific, instructor-approved circumstances.  Exams must be made up within one week of the original exam date.


Academic Integrity

In order to maintain academic integrity the History Department has created the following guidelines.

Cheating on exams is a serious breach of expected academic honesty. You cheat when, instead of learning the information on your own, you use improper means in taking exams.
Cheating takes many forms, including but not limited to:

  • obtaining or attempting to obtain a copy of the exam in advance of the test period.
  • using practice answers written outside of class during the exam.
  • copying from another student's paper during the exam, or allowing another student to copy from yours.
  • asking a student from a previous section about the exam before you yourself take it in your section.
  • using notes, books, any printed or electronic material during the exam (unless given express permission, such as for on-line courses or Moodle assignments).
  • committing plagiarism (see below).

To help prevent cheating during in-class exams, books and bags should be removed from easy sight, no recording or playing machines may be used. Only paper from the instructor is to be used.  For take-home or online exams students should not consult with any other students or use any sources, unless explicitly allowed to do so by the instructor.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating usually done on written assignments, where, intentionally or not, a writer uses other people's information without proper credit. Actually, other people's information may be readily appropriated in other media environments.  "Fair use" is often allowed in some forms of writing (including this page), but is not allowed in coursework for the History Department. Usually, in our academic setting, information sources must be properly and precisely credited.   You should be aware of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. 
For more information and links to sites about plagiarism go to information literacy, and read the guide "Help stop plagiarism!" 

Plagiarism takes many forms, including but not limited to:

  • using a written assignment done by another person (this includes hiring or paying someone to do all or part of a written assignment for you (a form of ghostwriting), stealing a paper from another student, or contracting with a paper mill or paper writing service).
  • turning in an assignment done in whole or in part for one course for an assignment in another course.
  • making up fake sources.
  • misleading by attributing information to an incorrect or fake source.
  • copying and using any material from another student or source without proper quotations AND citations -- more than 3 words of another person's source is usually too many without marking it as a quote (by placing "quotation marks" or formatting as single-spaced and indented if longer than 3 lines).
  • quoting without providing a source citation.
  • insufficiently paraphrasing someone else's words, whether cited or not.
  • paraphrasing someone else's unique ideas, statistics, or other information without acknowledgement or attribution through citations (whether they have given their permission or not).
    For more on citations, see the Corgan Library Study Guide #11. and the Essentials on Reading and Writing: Citations.  

NOTE: Having other people read your unfinished paper and make suggestions is not plagiarism, but rather should be encouraged as part of the writing process. Do use the Writing Center!

The most common form of plagiarism these days is to "cut and paste:" namely a plagiarizer would copy words from some website or book and use them in an essay as if the words were her own. 
>If you use someone else's exact words, you must indicate such, usually through applying "quotation marks" AND by properly and precisely citing the source. 
>If you use someone else's unique ideas or information (which is not common knowledge), you must indicate such, even if you use your own words (or paraphrasing), by properly and precisely citing the source. 

For the purposes of courses taught by History Department faculty, the mere appearance of cheating or plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is a violation of academic integrity.  The instructor cannot determine whether students' original intent was to cheat or if students were simply inattentive, careless, sloppy, hurried, or whatever.  If the instructor decides student coursework has violated the academic integrity policy, the instructor may require the student to redo the assignment, do an alternative assignment, and/or assign a penalty as follows:  


  • If the instructor determines a low-level violation of cheating or plagiarism, the student may receive reduced credit on that particular exam or written assignment. 
  • If the instructor determines significant cheating (a mid-level violation) has taken place on an exam, a student may earn no (zero) credit for that exam. 
  • If the instructor determines significant plagiarism (a mid-level violation) has been done on a written assignment, a student may earn no (zero) credit for that assignment. 
  • A student making a high-level violation or more than one violation of any level may result in a grade of F in the course.  

All cases of violation of academic integrity will be formally documented with the Academic Integrity Officer.  Please see the Academic Integrity Policy in the Studdent Handbook for more information, including possible further sanctions. 
Course-related penalties are at the discretion of the instructor of record, but students may appeal according to the college's Academic Integrity Policy in the Student Handbook


Wikipedia and the Internet: While the internet has become an invaluable research tool, there are respectable, scholarly websites that one should use, and others that are haphazardly constructed, or intended for elementary school students.  Be discerning when it comes to the web.  For instance, Wikipedia: don’t use it.  It has been shown, time and again, that Wikipedia is a seriously flawed, often incorrect online resource.  I encourage you to use real encyclopedias and other reference materials in the place of Wikipedia.  Wikipedia should never be used as a source for any of your assignments. 

            If you are unsure of a websites credibility, email the link to me and I’ll evaluate it. 


Communication: If you find yourself in need of assistance, clarification, or general dialogue about the course please visit me during my office hours.  My office is Hafey-Marian 308. 

If I am not available in my office, email me at All communications regarding Core 131 will be sent through King’s email.  Make sure you check this email regularly—you do not want to miss any announcements or assignments.

Use email as you would a letter; include a salutation other than “hey,” and be clear and concise.  Note, however, that I may not be able to respond to your email immediately, so do not procrastinate when it comes to getting in contact with me.  You should not expect email responses after 9PM, so make sure you are clear on the parameters of assignments well in advance of the due dates.

Facebook: I can’t be your friend while you are a student at King’s. 



A  (93% and above)

A- (90%-92%)

B+ (87%-89%)

B  (83%-86%)

B- (80%-82%)

C+ (77%-79%)

C  (73-76%)

C- (70%-72%)

D (69%-60%)

F (59% or below)


Final Grades will be calculated according to the following guideline:



Group Presentation—15%

Exams —30%

Short Essay—15 %

Final— 15%


Participation:  Active, substantive participation is 10% of your overall grade. Substantive participation means that you are referencing the readings in your comments, demonstrating a mastery of the reading, and connecting broader themes of the course to the readings.  This can include asking questions.  If you are not in class, you cannot earn any participation points for that day.  Please see my attendance policy as noted above.


Quizzes:  There will be five quizzes over the course of this class.  Some quizzes will consist of multiple-choice options, while others will ask you to read a short primary text and answer questions about the reading.  The quizzes are designed to keep readings fresh in your mind and to aid you in preparation for the midterm exams.  The quizzes will be administered via Moodle on the dates noted in the syllabus. 


Group Presentation:  At the beginning of the semester students will be assigned to a reading group.  The reading groups will often work together in class to discuss in-class readings and assignments. Each group is additionally responsible for presenting one the five major works to the rest of the class and facilitating discussion for that day.  The group will distribute reading questions to the rest of the class the class session before the scheduled discussion of the work.  They will raise additional questions during the class and lead the class for that day.  Each member of the group must participate in the facilitation of discussion.  Groups must meet with me one week before their assigned discussion day.  The key goal for each group is to integrate the primary sources into the broader course topics and themes.  After the group’s discussion day, the group must formulate a one-page evaluation of their discussion. Since our exams will, in part, focus on these significant primary sources, groups are responsible to the rest of the class for midterm preparation. 
The Group Presentations are scheduled as follows:
Group 1: 4 February (Procopius Secret History)
Group 2: 25 February (Book of the City of Ladies)
Group 3: 15 March (Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln)
Group 4: 27 March (The Condition of the Working Class in England)
Group 5: 15 April (Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano)

Exams:  This course will have two midterm exams based on the textbook, lectures, and major readings for the course.  You will be asked to analyze course themes and integrate readings with lectures as you do so.  The exams, ultimately, will help you bring together the major questions surrounding the concept of Western Civilization.  I will provide you with study guides up to two weeks in advance to aid your preparation.  The exams may include short answer, short essay, and long essay questions.  Exams are scheduled for 20 February and 20 March.


Short Essay: Part of the historian's work is the researching of and writing about a disputed historical topic.  You will be required to compose a short work of history, where you will conduct some outside research, formulate an argument, and present that argument neatly and concisely in an essay form.  Your research will allow you to elaborate on a course theme, where you will be able to do some additional research.    The Short Essay is due 22 April.


Final Exam: There will be a final exam for this class.  It will have a cumulative element, and like the midterms will ask you to synthesize course material as you address questions focused on course themes.  It will occur at the time scheduled by the Registrar’s Office.


All Assignments: Specific assignments and requirements will be distributed to the class well before the due date.  At times I will require hard copies of assignments.  In these instances, do not email me the assignment if you cannot come to class.  Please submit a paper copy to my office ONLY if you have pre-arranged it with me. 




IV. Course Schedule (Readings, Discussions, and Assignments)


Part I: Settling the “West”

14 January

Course Introductions


16 January

The practice of history

18 January 

The Ancient World,

Pavlac, Ch. 2; 39-47

Code of Hammurabi

Epic of Gilgamesh, "The Flood"
Genesis 7

Genesis 8



21 January

Greek Politics

Pavlac, 49-63

Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles


23 January

Greek Culture

Pavlac, 63-69

Plato, The Apology of Socrates

(Quiz 1 on Moodle) 


25 January

Roman Republic

Pavlac, 71-79

The Twelve Tables

Sallust, "Life in Rome in the Late Republic"



28 January

Roman Empire

Pavlac, 80-90

Pliny the Elder, "The Grandeur of Rome"


30 January

Rise of Christianity

Pavlac, 91-99

Christian Beginnings



Part II: The Formation of “Western” Institutions

1 February

Byzantium, Or the Eastern Empire

Pavlac, 100-104
Nika Riot
Racing Factions


4 February

Procopius, Secret History

Group 1 Presents


6 February

West “versus” East

Pavlac, 104-108

Ibn Ishaq, Selections from the Life of Muhammad


8 February

Defining the “Middle Ages”

Pavlac, 109-116
The Conversion of Clovis, Two Accounts

(Quiz 2 on Moodle) 



11 February

The First European Empire

The Franks

Pavlac, 116-121
Three Accounts of the Battle of Tours


13 February

Medieval Political and Social Systems

Pavlac, 121-126

Fiefs and Jurisdiction

Charter of Homage and Fealty


15 February

Medieval Christianity

Pavlac, 135-151

Gregory VII, On Lay Investiture

Henry IV, Letter to Gregory VII

Gregory VII, Excommunication of Henry IV

(Quiz 3 on Moodle)



Part III: Movement Toward the Modern “West”

18 February

The Plague

Pavlac, 151-162

Boccaccio, The Decameron, Introduction

The Black Death and the Jews


20 February


Pavlac, 163-171

Petrarch, Letters
**EXAM 1 DUE**


22 February

Renaissance Art

Pavlac, 171-176

Giorgio Vasari, “Life of Leonardo da Vinci, 1550”



25 February

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

Group 2 Presents


27 February

Luther’s Reformation

Pavlac, 177-181

Martin Luther, Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, 1517

Luther Against the Peasants

(Quiz 4 on Moodle)


1 March

Other Reformations—Counter Reformation, Henry VIII

Pavlac, 182-188

Letter of Thomas Cranmer

Henry VIII, Act of Supremacy

Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises 



4, 6, 8 March -- Winter Recess



11 March

Western Expansion

Pavlac, 189-198

Christopher Columbus, extracts from journal

Hernan Cortes, Second Letter to the Emperor Charles V, 1520


13 March

The Thirty Year’s War


15 March

Gluckel of Hameln, The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln

Group 3 Presents  



Part IV: The Age of Revolutions in the Modern Era

18 March

Scientific Revolution

Pavlac, 199-204

Nicolas Copernicus, The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, 1543 excerpt

The Crime of Galileo: Indictment and Abjuration of 1633


20 March

The Enlightenment

Pavlac, 204-209

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, chapter 13
John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, excerpts

Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, excerpts


22 March

Enlightened Despots and New Models of Government

Pavlac, 209-225

Frederick II, Political Testament the Great.html

Luise Gottsched, Description of the Empress Maria Theresa



25 March

Industrial Revolution

Pavlac, 237-247

Robert Owen, Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System


27 March

The Industrial State

Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England

Group 4 Presents


29 March - Easter Recess



1 April - Easter Recess


3 April

French Revolution, The Founding of a Republic

Pavlac, 225-229

Abbe Sieyes, What is the Third Estate?

National Assembly, The Declaration of the Rights of Man


5 April

French Revolution, The Establishment of the Terror

Pavlac, 229-231

Maximilien Robespierre, The Cult of the Supreme Being

Maximilien Robespierre, Justification of the Use of Terror




Part V: The Modern “Western” State

8 April

Napoleon’s France

Pavlac, 231-235

The Napoleonic Code


10 April

The Liberal State 

Pamphlet on Laissez-faire
Liberalism Evaluated

(Quiz 5 on Moodle)  

12 April

A New Kind of Imperial State

Jefferson on slavery
Wesley, Thoughts on Slavery




15 April

The Humanitarian State

Olaudah Equiano

Group 4 Presents


17 April

1848 Revolutions

Pavlac, 251-261
Documents of the 1848 Revolutions in France
The National Song of Hungary, 1848


19 April

The Founding of New Nations

Pavlac, 281-286

Joseph Mazzini, On the Duties of Man, “Duties Towards Your Country”

Ernst Moritz Arndt, The German Fatherland, 1813

Max Schneckenburger, The Watch on the Rhine, 1870



22 April

Life in the Modern Era

Pavlac, 261-265

**Short Essay Due**


24 April

Life in the Modern Era, Part II
“The Murder in Whitechapel”


26 April

The Drive to Expand the West—New Imperialism

Pavlac, 267-280

Rudyard Kipling, "White Man's Burden"

British Missionary Letters: Urging the Annexation of the South Sea Islands, 1883

William Henry Furness III, Visit to a Head-hunter of Borneo, 1901



29 April

The Struggle to Control the West

Pavlac, 287-291

The Dual Alliance Between Austria-Hungary and German, 1879

The Three Emperors League, 1881

The Anglo-Russian Entente

The Young Turks, Proclamation for the Ottoman Empire, 1908


1 May

World War I


Final Exam:  To be announced.