Course Goals  Grading &Assignments  Lecture &Reading Schedule  Academic Honesty  Required Textbooks  Web Resources  Contacting Dr. Isaac

Course Description

Section 3

Welcome to Modern Western Civilization. In the next fifteen weeks we are going to cover nearly 400 years of humankind’s story, years which saw an unprecedented expansion in both breadth and pace of activity. Naturally, this implies that much material will receive only slight attention, and an even more atrocious amount of information will be ignored completely. With that minimal apology out of the way, I still hope that students will find the class challenging, informative, even occasionally entertaining. We will be looking at the procession of events, grand and minuscule, personal and impersonal, which have wrought the world that we currently enjoy. With our focus somewhat determined by the course title, we will concentrate on European affairs, but as that particular community expanded globally, so also will the lecture material. To that extent, you are at the mercy of the instructor’s editorial whims.

On the other hand, feel free to ask questions and to challenge the material presented. The goal of this class is not just to inform students of the course of Western history, but also to demonstrate the myriad ways in which that narrative has been understood. With so many debates still ongoing, another course goal is for students to present their own their thoughts. Hopefully, this will take place in class, but at the least, it should occur on the exams.

Let me re-emphasize the sentiment above: you will have to grapple with the information presented in this class, not merely memorize it. I will be asking you many questions throughout the semester; be ready to answer them. Oftentimes, there is not a decisively correct answer, and I will simply be seeking to learn which conclusions you have reached. Obviously, then, your participation in class matters and will depend in no small way on preparing for our lectures/conversations (this means you must do the reading!).

Course Goals

The goals (or should I say fruits?) of a history course are as numerous as the books which historians produce. Some have already been hinted at above. At the broadest level, though, historical study encourages and hones critical analysis of the questions which most concern us. And these issues are themselves countless, but in the most generic terms, they mostly center on the relations of people with one another, with themselves, and possibly with the supernatural. We will be asking “why?” rather a lot: Why did they think that? Why did they assume such a thing? Why does the past appear simultaneously alien and similar? Even as we ask these questions, others lie implicitly underneath: why do I think what I think? What are my prejudices and assumptions? How does my heritage sway my conclusions?

We will be asking the above questions all under the aegis of the course goals outlined by Longwood University's catalog:

Upon completion of the course, students will have gained an appropriate increase in:
1. An understanding and appreciation of history and historical inquiry through the use of research, critical thinking, and problem solving.
2. A sense of how historical knowledge has been affected by new findings and approaches.
3. An appreciation for how history poses ethical dilemmas and challenges, both for men and women who lived in the past, and for those pondering its significance now.
4. An appreciation for how knowledge of history helps clarify the consequences of collective action, both in the past and in the present.
5. A sense of history as combining a variety of disciplines, approaches, and perspectives.
6. An awareness of the diverse modes of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information.
7. An ability to express oneself clearly and concisely on paper, by means of a substantive written assignment or series of written assignments.
8. An understanding of how history relates to other disciplines and modes of inquiry.
9. An awareness of how historical inquiry can contribute to understanding the issues and dilemmas that face the contemporary citizen.
10. An understanding of the historical development of Western civilization in its formative stages.
11. A sense of how to relate the development of Western civilization to other regions of the world.
12. An understanding of how historical cultural developments influence the present day.

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Note the importance of Goal 7: the writing component. History is a discipline of writing as much as reading. The papers and exam essays will be your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to express your conclusions about historical events and historical scholarship. Don’t blow this off and do slipshod work.

Grading & Assignments

Longwood has adopted a system wherein a letter grade with a + or a - is weighted in the computations of the student’s GPA. Look to my “General Policies” for how I will be assigning such grades from the numerical basis that I use in the course.

Exams: There will be three exams, whose form will be discussed in detail as they approach. Students may rest(?) assured, however, that the essay component will comprise half the grade. The exams are weighted so as to give students the benefit of experience. Thus, the first is worth 15%, the next one 20%, and the final exam 25% of the course grade. While no test is cumulative, each is built on the assumption that you actually remember material from previous exams. Failure to take the final will result in failing the course.

Quizzes: At three fixed dates—and four surprise ones—in the semester, I will give a small quiz (of the multiple choice and true/false variety) designed to make certain that you have not become a zombie. The lowest of those seven grades will be jettisoned in the final computation of grades so that the remaining six will be worth 15% of the final grade.

Papers: There will be one book review, no longer than three pages in length. It will be worth 20% of the course grade. For full details on the nature of this assignment, and the canon of available choices, see the on-line guidelines here.  If your interests lie more in the earlier or later parts of the course's subject matter, look to either the  1st half list or the 2nd half list for books approved for review.

Note: There will be a low threshold of tolerance for grammatical errors and all other transgressions which a simple proofreading should catch. Remove these yourself so I won’t have to remove hard-earned points. Remember, the spell- checker is not your friend! For further guidance, consult the menu options under Leges Stephani and the writing guides. Also, beware the Homonym Death List. As of the Spring 2007 courses, students who demonstrate a clear disregard for good advice and the basic requirements of the assignment will have their work returned to be redone, minus a letter-grade.

In-Class Work:  I have a number of activities and assignments scattered throughout the course (in no small part so you don’t have to listen to me drone on forever).  They will account for 5% of the course grade, so don’t treat them lightly.  In a sense, this works partially as a participation grade.

And the Rest...Be certain to read my “General Policies” page as well for further information on how your performance in the course (attendance, late work, classroom protocol, etc.) will be assessed.

Grade Calculation: Because of the complexity of how I weight grades, plus the omitted pop quiz, I do not use Canvas for HIST 100. If you want to keep track of your grade, it is easy enough since I return all your work. Simply plug your grades into the linked worksheet, and it will give you an idea of your progress. Be wary, though, of relying on this too much. The great majority of the points to earn in this class arrive in the final weeks, making early calculations susceptible to large swings.

Lecture & Reading Schedule

The sources which you will read for this class each correspond to one of the sections below, and to that section’s concluding exam. I urge you to read them at the times indicated below for the maximum benefit of explanatory material. In addition, the reading assignments from the Kidner text ought to be done before you come to class. The information provided by that text will do much to color in the background of the points I will be stressing in lecture.




18 Jan Course Introduction Discussion of goals, techniques, expectations
20 Jan Pre-Industrial Society  •  Breugel: The Slaughter of the Innocents (1560): study the image for themes & consider how it reinterprets an old story with contemporary imagery
•  Social Conditions in 17 th-Century France:
•  Lawful Sports:
23 Jan Absolutism in France •  Kidner: 466–473
•  Court of Louis XIV:
•  James I on Divine Right:
25 Jan Absolutism in Other Guises

Begin reading Candide
•  Kidner: 473–493
•  Analyses of Peter the Great:

27 Jan Scientific Revolution •  Kidner: 498–509
•  Galileo’s Indictment and Abjuration:
30Jan Popularizing the Enlightenment •  Kidner: 509–524
•  Royal Society:
1 Feb

Enlightenment, Reason, and Worldly Games

•  Kidner: 532–547
•  Be deep into (if not finished!) Candide, and prepared to discuss
•  Hume, “On Miracles”:
•  Montesquieu, Persian Letters, No. 13:
3 Feb Life Before La Deluge; Quiz •  Kidner: 547–555
•  Paris Salons:
•  Cahiers of Carcassonne:
6 Feb French Revolution I •  Kidner: 560–568
•  Declaration of the Rights of Man:
•  Ça Ira:
8 Feb French Revolution II •  Kidner: 568–576
•  Execution of Louis XVI:
10 Feb French Revolution III •  Kidner: 576–580
•  Cult of the Supreme Being:
13 Feb Napoleon: Heir or Betrayer? •   Kidner: 580–588
•   Napoleon’s Account, 1804
•   The Imperial Catechism, 1806:
15 Feb Discussion and Review Have Candide completed
17 Feb EXAM  
20 Feb Undoing the Revolution? •  Kidner: 596–600, 613–616 (“Autocracy in Russia” to “Reform Bill...”)
•  Carlsbad Decrees:
•  “The Peterloo Massacre”: a picture to study
22 Feb Early 19C Thought •  Kidner: 601–613
• Pamphlet: In Defence of Laissez-Faire
24 Feb    
27 Feb Industrial Revolution I •  Kidner: (review 552–554!), 626–635
•  Carlyle, “The Mechanical Age”:
1 March Industrial Revolution II
• Kidner: 635–645
•  Engels:
•  Women Miners:
3 March Social Questions
• Kidner: review 601–613, plus read 645–649
• Fourier:
• Louis Blanc :
6-10 March Spring Break • Begin reading The Ladies’ Delight
13 March The Revolutions of 1848
  • Kidner: 616–618, 656–662
  • Lamartine:
  • 15 March Spotlight on Marx •  Kidner: review 648–649
    •  Marx: (Read this carefully!)
    17 March State-building •  Kidner: 662–670
    •  “Watch on the Rhine”:
    •  Bismarck’s Memoirs:
    20 March Imperialism •  Kidner: 718–735
    •  Missionary Letters:
    •  Pan-German Program:
    •  “March of the Flag”:
    22 March Later Industrial Revolution •  Kidner: 690–697
    •  Chemical Industry:
    •  Paris Street, by Gustave Caillebotte (read or listen as you like, but do study the painting)
    24 March The Belle Epoque •  Kidner: 697–706
    •  Continue reading The Ladies Delight
    27 March Science: Assurance (or not?) • Kidner: 706–712
    • Darwin:
    • Continue reading The Ladies Delight
    29 March Culture: Uneasy Barometer •  Be finished with The Ladies Delight
    31 March EXAM  
    3 Apr The Road to War • Kidner: 752–756
    • Chapter 1 of The Rites of Spring
    5 Apr War and the Modern Age •  Kidner: 755–763
    • Chapter 2 of The Rites of Spring
    8 Apr    
    10 Apr The War to End all Wars •  Kidner: 763–766
    •  Chapter 3 of The Rites of Spring
    12 Apr   •  Chapter 4 of The Rites of Spring
    14 Apr USSR: Birth Pangs •  Kidner: 766–770
    •  Chapter 5 of The Rites of Spring
    17 Apr A Peace (to end all peace?) •  Kidner: 770–774, 782–786
    •  Chapter 7 of The Rites of Spring
    19 Apr Recovery Efforts •  Kidner: 782–788
  • Chapter 9 of The Rites of Spring
  • 21 Apr Fascism and Hitler's Rise •  Kidner: 788–800
    •  Chapter 10 of The Rites of Spring
    24 Apr •Nazism
    •  Kidner: 812–819
    28 Apr The Coming of the Storm...
    •  Kidner: 819–828
    •  Book Review Due
    1 May World War II • Kidner: 828–839 
    5 May Final Exam Kidner: 846–862

    Academic Honesty

    It is unfortunate, but every year some students attempt to submit work which is not their own. This act is, of course, the crime of plagiarism. Do not test your luck in this arena. The eventual odds are against you, and the penalties are unpleasant. Any student who submits plagiarized work will automatically fail the entire course. Previous students have found that I do not negotiate this point. If you're not sure what constitutes academic dishonesty, consult the student handbook, ask your instructors, or see my links to the problem.

    Required Textbooks

    We have four textbooks for this course. They are all required, and yes, I actually expect students to read them.

    Web Resources

    At this time, your professor finds little reason to send you off surfing around the World Wide Distraction...

    Contacting Dr. Isaac

    Office: Ruffner 226-A
    Office Phone: 395-2225
    Office Hours: 1:00 MWF
    Send me an E-mail
    Feel free to drop in at anytime; if I can’t see you then, I will gladly set up an appointment at your convenience.