Western Civilization to 1914

Assistant Professor N. Mares

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 Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1800)





Instructor: Professor Nicole Mares

Office: Hafey-Marian 308


Phone: (570) 208-5900 ext. 5489

Course Webpage:

Section E: Wednesdays, 6-8:30, HM 301

Office Hours: Tues 9-12, Wed 11-1 or by appointment

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 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.


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.


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 Honesty and Integrity: Please read and understand the college’s Student Conduct Code.  Within this code is contained the college’s and therefore this class’s policies on cheating and plagiarism.

Further explanation of cheating and plagiarism can be found here: and here: Help stop Plagiarism!.  


The policy on plagiarism for this course is as follows:
First offense: assignment receives a failing grade and an academic integrity violation form will be submitted to the Academic Integrity Officer.
Subsequent offenses: student will receive a failing grade for the class and a subsequent academic integrity violation form will be submitted to the Academic Integrity Officer.



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)


Grades will be determined by the following:


Source Analyses—20%

Exams —30%

Long Essay —20%

Final— 20%

Participation:  Active, substantive participation is 10% of your overall grade; if you are not in class, you cannot earn any participation points for that day.  After three unexcused absences your participation grade will be reduced by one percent for each unexcused absence.  Furthermore, If you are not present to hand in your short paper assignments, your assignment will not be graded for points, reducing that portion of your overall grade. 


All Assignments: Specific assignments and requirements will be distributed to the class well before the due date.  I must receive hard copies of all assignments.  Do not email me the assignment if you cannot come to class.  Please submit a paper copy to my office or to my mailbox in the history department office, and ONLY do this if you have pre-arranged it with me. 


Source Analyses:  Every week you will compose a source analysis, comparing at least two primary source documents from the week’s assigned readings.  These analyses should be at least two pages in length.  In the analysis you should discuss the key themes of the sources and how they connect to the readings from the Pavlac text.  Things to consider: do the sources have similar views?  Are they connected chronologically?  Do they offer opposing viewpoints?  Do they show different sides of a particular subject (Renaissance, Industrialization, etc)? 

            Source analyses are not due on the following dates:

            22 February (Midterm #1 Due)

            28 March (Midterm #2 Due)

            25 April (Long Essay Due)


Exams:  This course will have two midterm exams and a final.  Exams are to be taken on the dates indicated on the syllabus. If you believe you must miss an exam, you must see the instructor in advance regarding a re-take. If you miss an exam without having previously spoken with me, you must talk with me as soon as possible after the exam date. Re-takes will only be allowed under extreme circumstances and with evidence of the reason the exam was missed (e.g., Health Center receipt).

            Midterm Schedule:

            22 February

            28 March

            Final Exam: To be announced


Longer Essay:  Later in the semester you will be assigned a six-page essay on a topic to be distributed in class.  You will be asked to use not only primary sources I have assigned to you, but also to find some additional primary texts.  I will ask you to use the sources you’ve compiled to form an argument (thesis) about the assigned theme.  You will turn in a bibliography of your sources with short descriptions of each text you are using.  After that, I will ask for a detailed outline of your paper that includes your proposed thesis statement.  A full description of the paper topic will be distributed in class as we near the assigned lecture day. 

            Long Essay Schedule:

            Bibliography Due:  4 April

            Outline Due:  11 April

            Essay Due:  25 April


Course Schedule of Readings and Assignments



18 January


Reading Primary Sources

The Discipline of History



25 January

            Chapter II: Wanderers and Settlers

            pp. 13-38

            Chapter III: The Chosen People

            pp. 39-48

                Epic of Gilgamesh, “The Flood”

Book of Genesis 6:5-9:17

Code of Hammurabi


                Book of Exodus, Chapter 20




1 February

            Chapter IV: The Trial of the Greeks

            pp. 49-70

                Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles


Plato, The Apology of Socrates




8 February

            Chapter V: Imperium Romanum

            pp. 71-90

                The Twelve Tables


                Cicero, from On the Republic


Suetonius, The Life of Augustus, Sections 27-43






15 February

            Chapter VI: The Revolutionary Rabbi & The Fall of Rome

            pp. 91-108

                Christian Beginnings


Procopius of Caesarea, Alaric’s Sack of Rome, 410 CE


                Sozomen, Constantine Founds Constantinople, 324 CE



22 February


            Chapter VII: The Medieval Muddle

            pp. 109-126

Conversion of Clovis

Ibn Ishaq, Selections from the Life of Muhammad

Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, extracts



29 February

            Chapter VIII, continued: The Medieval Muddle (Popes and Plagues)

            pp. 127-162

Charter of Homage and Fealty


Magna Carta

            Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, “Introduction”


               The Black Death and the Jews




**7 March—Winter Recess**



14 March

            Chapter IX: Making the Modern World (The Renaissance)

            pp. 163-177

               Petrarch, Letters


            Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince (read XV-XXVI)




21 March

            Chapter VIII, continued: Making the Modern World (The Reformation)

            pp. 177-198

Martin Luther, Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, 1517


Luther Against the Peasants


                Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises


Christopher Columbus, extracts from journal

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



28 March


Chapter IX: Liberation of Mind and Body

            pp. 199-225

The Crime of Galileo: Indictment and Abjuration of 1633


Adam Smith, On the Wealth of Nations, 1776 excerpts


Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, chapters 13 and 14


             John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, excerpts

            Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, excerpts



4 April


The French Revolution

            pp. 225-236

Abbe Sieyes, What is the Third Estate?

National Assembly, The Declaration of the Rights of Man


Maximilien Robespierre, The Cult of the Supreme Being


Maximilien Robespierre, On the Principles of Political Morality


Maximilien Robespierre, Justification of the Use of Terror


The Napoleonic Code




11 April


            Chapter X: Mastery of the Machine

            pp. 237-247


            Physical Deterioration of the worker

Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (Read Preface and

Chapter 5)

Robert Owen, Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System

Charles Fourier, Theory of Social Organization, 1820

Prince Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal, 1896



18 April

            Chapter X, continued: The Ideologies of Industrial Society

            pp. 247-266

               Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto excerpts


               Karl Marx, Scientific Socialism, 1844-1875, excerpts


Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, excerpts

Herbert Spencer, Progress: Its Law and Cause

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Die Weltanschauung, 1918



25 April


            Chapter XII: The Westerner’s Burden

            pp. 267-280

John Stuart Mill, On Colonies and Colonization, 1848


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


            Kaister Wilhelm II and German Interests in China


The Platt Amendment, 1901

R. L. Bullard, Preparing Our Moros for Government, 1906

Francisco Garcia Calderon, Imperialism of Decadence, 1913




2 May

            Chapter XII, continued: Nationalism & War

            pp. 280-296

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


Max Schneckenburger, The Watch on the Rhine, 1870


               The Young Turks, Proclamation for the Ottoman Empire, 1908


The Dual Alliance Between Austria-Hungary and German, 1879


            The Three Emperors League, 1881


            The Anglo-Russian Entente


The Zimmerman Telegram