HISTORY 121--Spring 2020 
History of Western Civilization I

Art Marmorstein

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As the main text for this class, I used Chodorow's Mainstream of Civilization for years.  There are still copies around on campus, and, I’d recommend you get a copy of you can.  Chodorow will give you a different perspective on the figures and events discussed in class and serve as an excellent supplement to your lecture notes as you prepare for your midterm and final exams. 

There are some good Western Civilization texts available free online.  Dr. Christopher Brooks makes available his Concise History of Western Civilization via the Open Textbook Library. 


Brooks organizes his material differently than I organize my own course, but that’s really a good thing.  Please remember that you should never get your history from only one source—no matter how good that source! Without multiple perspectives, you are very likely to stumble.

The primary sources readings for the course (The Epic of Gilgamesh, etc.) must be done before class on the day assigned.  We will be discussing these works in class, and you will be lost and confused if you haven't done the reading.

There are online versions of many of the assigned texts, but most students will do better with the “hard copy” versions of these books available in the bookstore.  I’ve tried to keep the cost of books to a minimum
The main text for this class, Chodorow's Mainstream of Civilization, will give you a different perspective on the figures and events discussed in class and serve as an excellent supplement to your lecture notes as you prepare for your midterm and final exams.  You will probably find the maps, charts, and time lines in the Chodorow book particularly helpful.  You do not need to bring the Chodorow book to class, and it doesn't really matter whether you do the Chodorow readings before or after the associated lectures. It is important that you *do* read the Chodorow chapters. Never get your history from only one source—no matter how good that source! Without multiple perspectives, you are very likely to stumble.   


1/13     Introduction
1/15     Old Kingdom Egypt
1/17    Middle Kingdom Egypt

1/20           *** Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—No Class ***
1/22   New Kingdom Egypt
1/24   Mesopotamia I—Sumer

1/27   Mesopotamia II—the Babylonians (The Epic of Gilgamesh)
1/29   Mesopotamia III--Assyrians and Chaldaeans
1/31   Ancient Israel I (Mainstream, p. 25-26)

2/3     Ancient Israel II (Gen. 1-3; Deut. 5-6; Isaiah 1, 53; any Psalm)
2/5     Ancient Israel III (Daniel 1-7, 12)
2/7     Ancient India I (Mainstream, p. 145-155)

2/10    Ancient India II
2/12    Ancient China
2/14          **** MIDTERM I ****

2/17         *** President's Day: No Class ***
2/19   Ancient Greece I
2/21   Ancient Greece II

2/24   Greek Drama I (Antigone)
2/26   Greek Drama II (The Trojan Women)
2/28   Philosophy (The Last Days of Socrates: The Apology)

3/2   Philosophy (The Last Days of Socrates: Euthyphro)
3/4   The Roman Republic
3/6   The Roman Revolution

3/7-15       *** Spring Break: No Class ***

3/16    Imperial Rome I
3/18    Imperial Rome II
3/20    Christianity in the Roman Empire

3/23   Christianity in the Roman Empire (The Gospel of Matthew)
3/25   Christianity in the Roman Empire (The Gospel of John)
3/27           ******* MIDTERM II *********

3/30   Byzantium
4/1   Islam I
4/3   Islam II

4/6   Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages
4/8   The High Middle Ages
4/10        **** Good Friday: No Class ****

4/13   The High Middle Ages II
4/15   The Late Middle Ages I
4/17   The Late Middle Ages II

4/20   The Renaissance
4/22   The Renaissance (The Prince)
4/24   The Renaissance

4/27   The Reformation I
4/29   The Reformation II
5/1     The Exciting Conclusion to this Course!


All Sections:  Tuesday, May 5, 4:30-6:30 P.M., JFAC 117 (Red Room)


Your grade for this course will be based primarily on your midterm and final exams, each of which will count approximately 25% when I determine your final grade.  In addition, I will take into account attendance, participation, and quiz scores. 

My grading method allows from improvement, and I frequently have students who fail the first exam who nevertheless end up earning "A" or "B" grades in the course. Please note, though, that I factor "improvement" into your course grade *only* if you demonstrate your commitment to the course through good attendance and other evidence of hard work.


In order to make sure students are keeping up with the readings (and to encourage students to come to class!) I give quite a few surprise quizzes during the semester.  Often, these surprise quizzes involve short essays on the reading assigned for that day.  Very frequently, I use one of the "primary source" study questions as the surprise quiz question.  If you keep up with the readings, and (especially) if you are prepared to answer the study guide questions, you should do well on these quizzes. Remember that “A” students in my class are *always* prepared for a surprise quiz at any time.


There are online notes available for all the lectures. However, you should be sure to take good notes for yourself. You almost certainly will not remember the material if you don’t take extensive notes. You will also find that the time goes much more quickly if are taking notes rather than just sitting and listening.

Generally, a good student will have about four pages of notes for each lecture.  It is a good idea to record the title and date of each lecture. Also, it is a good idea to review and annotate your notes soon after each lecture while the material is still fresh in your mind.


Please make sure all electronic devices are turned off and put away before class begins.  Cell phones, laptop computers, MP3 players, and similar devices are all distracting to other students.  I do *not* allow the use of electronic dictionaries during exams.   


Midterms and Final exam--8 ID's, 1 essay      

ID's will be selected from the terms put on the board at the beginning of each lecture.  You will be asked not only to identify the terms, but also to explain their historical significance. I am impressed when students can include plenty of detailed information, but I am even more impressed when students can show how the ID terms relate to important themes discussed in this class.   

Essay questions will deal with major themes discussed in the lectures.  Most often, the exam question will be a generalization I have made in class with the additional word, "comment."   

A student who studies hard and does the required reading should have plenty to say in response to each of these questions. You will be given 50 minutes for each midterm and two hours for the final exam. Most students will need the full time to do a good job.   

What is a good job?  I tell students over and over again that a good essay consists of a series of good generalizations based on the exam question and backed up with specific support from the lectures and the readings.  I am particularly impressed when students include in their essays references to primary source material.

1.  Think! Do not just memorize facts.
2.  Prepare the essay questions first.
3.  Come up with a fairly detailed outline for each essay.
4.  Think of good topic sentences for each paragraph of your essay. 
5.  Use the key words of the exam question in your topic sentences.
6.  Choose good supporting evidence for your topic sentences.
7.  Use the appropriate ID terms in your essays.
8.  Learn the ID's in context.  Do not use a "flash card" approach. 
9.  Do not wait until the last minute to study.
10. Do spend extra time studying the week of the exam.
11. Do not just memorize facts. Think!


     Taking the exam:

Cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty and misconduct run contrary to the purposes of higher education.   Cheating includes the use of any notes during the midterm or final exam.  Please place no marks of any kind on or in your blue book before I give the signal to begin taking the exam.  All exams must be taken on blank bluebooks.  On at least one exam, bluebooks will be checked before the exam.  Bluebooks that have not been checked, have missing pages, or pages with large erasures will not be accepted.

It is not cheating to study with another student, to share notes, or to prepare essays or ID's together. However, if you do study with another student, be sure you do not sit next to each other during the exam.
Please be especially careful to observe academic integrity standards on the take-home quizzes. The quizzes are intended to make sure you have done the primary source readings, and your comments should be based on your own observations, not someone else’s ideas. Plagiarism (e.g. copying material from the internet or recycling work done by another student) is not allowed.  I do sometimes allow “group work” on quizzes, but unless I have specifically indicated that you are allowed to work with other students, make sure your quiz comments are entirely your own.

Northern State University's official policy and procedures on cheating and academic dishonesty as outlined in the Northern State University Student Handbook applies to this course. Students caught cheating will receive a zero for the assignment, and, since zeros are worse than F[‘s, they are likely to fail the course as a whole.

Northern State University recognizes its responsibility for creating an institutional climate in which students with disabilities can thrive.  If you have any type of disability for which you require accommodations, please contact Karen Gerety at the NSU Office of Disability Services (626-2371, Student Center 217) as soon as possible to discuss your particular needs.   


Under Board of Regents and University policy student academic performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled. Students who believe that an academic evaluation reflects prejudiced or capricious consideration of student opinions or conduct unrelated to academic standards should contact the academic dean administratively in charge of the class to initiate a review of the evaluation. 


Northern State University strives to build an academic community of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences who are committed to sharing diverse ideas in a mutually respectful environment. We value open discourse and consideration of multiple perspectives on issues of regional, national, and international importance, in which individuals are free to express their points of view. Our goal is a diverse learning community with equal opportunity for all.