CORE 131 Western Civilization to 1914

Spring 2007

Prof. Pavlac
U.S. Mail Address:
History Department
King's College
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

Tel: (570) 208-5900, ext. # 5748
Fax: (570) 208-5988 
Office: Hafey-Marian 307
Office Hours: tba
and by appointment

Purpose | General Requirements | Exams | Maps | Written Assignments

 Grades | Grading Policy | Topics | Academic Honesty | Sources

 Presentation | WebCT | WEBSources | General History Links

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 first course in the Civilization sequence.

This class is an important part of your education!  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 until the 20th century 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  (capitalist industrial manufacturing, the nation-state system, etc.) have become global in nature.

We offer this course as part of your general education requirements because it is important for educated citizens to be familiar with the main stages of Western Civilization and recognize it as an expanding force which produced important forms of political, social, and economic organization. You should understand that most of the structures within which we order our lives are products of this evolution. Historians believe that past human behavior can be studied scientifically and that social scientists can improve our understanding of people in the present.

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 world civilizations and become a more perceptive judge of the data, opinions, interpretations and explanations continuously offered to you. This process, indeed, should last your whole life, since (paraphrasing the observation of the distinguished professional historian Carl L. Becker from 1931) "Ultimately, every person is their own historian."

B. Objectives for the student:

  1. To be familiar with the main stages of civilization as an expanding force that has produced important forms of political, social, economic and cultural organization which are our common heritage.
  2. To identify major events, persons and ideas that contributed to the development of Western (including American) and non-Western attitudes and institutions.
  3. To develop concepts which give meaning and order to the raw material of our recorded past.
  4. To identify and analyze significant problems and situations as they relate to the continuing issues of contemporary life.

C. Goals for the student:

  1. To improve understanding of the major events which have influenced the modern world.
  2. To be an intelligent consumer and evaluator of information about world events.
  3. To develop a global perspective which recognizes the political, economic and cultural interdependence of all nations.
  4. To understand the influence of the past on contemporary events and problems or, in other words, to develop Historical Mindedness.

D. General Learning Outcomes for the student:

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

  1. To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  2. To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  3. To differentiate between facts, opinions and inferences.
  4. To frame questions so as to more clearly clarify a problem topic or issue.
  5. To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  6. To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in written form.
  7. To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.

III. General Requirements

A. Academic Honesty (click here for more information).

Be aware of the academic honesty policy concerning cheating and plagiarism, and your moral, ethical and legal obligation only to submit work completed by you yourself.  For more information see <> and <Help stop Plagiarism!>.  

B. Reading:

You will need to purchase a textbook, as explained by the professor in class.  The text provides you with important factual and background information to be read and worked on before class and to be used for review and reference afterwards.

Before class, you will read the text according to your printed syllabus. You should prudently mark up, underline, highlight and otherwise annotate your text as you study.  Bring the textbook to class.  After class, regularly through the semester, you should review your class notes and compare them with the text's versions of the material.  

The instructor will give quizzes to test your reading and comprehension and for review.  The quizzes will be open book and will ask one of two questions:  1.  In one short paragraph, sum up the answer to the BIG Question of the day.  2.  For each of three people or events you choose from that day's reading, write one sentence describing why they are important in history.  

C. Class Participation & Attendance:

Participation and attendance are necessary because lecture and discussion provide the essentials for achieving class goals and objectives. Thus a portion of your grade (about 10%) will depend on your in-class performance and presence, aside from graded quizzes, exams and papers..  You are required to attend each class, arrive on time, remain attentive, maintain proper classroom decorum, and respond to questions. You are encouraged to take notes and ask questions.

Several minor written assignments (a paragraph to one page in length) will also be required as reflections and reactions to class discussion and projects (10 points each).

The professor will regularly take attendance. Absences due to college activities, emergency or extended illness may be excused by the appropriate college official. You should consult with the professor about making up missed work in advance or as soon as possible after your return.  Other absences are unexcused and will lower the class participation and quiz portions of your grade. After any absence, you are responsible for requesting hand-outs and already returned assignments from the proessor or borrowing notes from other students. If you miss an exam, contact the instructor as soon as possible. You may take a missed exam only at the discretion of the instructor. Whether absences are excused or not, you may not get a higher grade than the percentage of classes attended.

A student who arrives at class late, after attendance is taken, must personally request that the absence be turned into a tardy mark. Students who need to leave a class session early, except for medical emergency, should notify the instructor before class begins.

All students who have a learning disability, physical handicap and/or any other possible impediment to class participation and requirements should schedule an appointment with the instructor within the first two weeks of classes to discuss available accommodations.  With the instructor's permission, lectures may be recorded for your own study, although the tapes must be erased after the exams.

If at some point during the semester you must discontinue the course, due to poor performance, illness or some other cause, be sure to follow proper procedures for withdrawal. 


D. Exams:

You will take a quiz about this syllabus using WebCT in the first week of classes.  You will also have three map quizzes using WebCT, and quizzes on your readings.  You will take two mid-term exams as scheduled and a final exam as assigned during finals week. The exams are comprehensive: each exam may cover material since the beginning of the course.

All exams will consist of objective questions testing recall based on historical geography and maps and essays demanding your understanding of the course material through logical presentation of facts and explanation of historical trends.

To encourage your learning for the map portion of the exams, three map quizzes are scheduled. In these quizzes you will simply be asked to identify on a map several locations, from those listed map location guide to be posted.

To study for the exams you should regularly, at least once a week, review your class notes, and refer to the study questions linked below. You should also compare and contrast these notes with your textbook and with the issues and trends emphasized in the class description.  To avoid common exam errors, check this page.  

Study Questions for Exam 1
Study Questions for Exam 2
Study Questions for Final Exam

Purpose | General Requirements | Exams | Maps | Written Assignments

 Grades | Grading Policy | Topics | Academic Honesty | Sources

 Presentation | WebCT | WEBSources | General History Links

D. Written Assignments:

You will have two written assignments of five-to-seven pages each. They are described on your printed syllabus.   For more on evaluation of your papers see <> and <>. To avoid common errors in written assignments, check this page.  

Be sure to conform to the instructor's presentation guidelines, and use Turabian/Chicago Manual of Style format (see Corgan Library <> and click on "Citing Sources" or Corgan Library Study Guide #11 or for bibliography and citations.  

E. Deadlines:

Completing assignments on time is an important aspect of your course work.  You yourself must hand in each written assignment at the beginning of class on the dates assigned on your paper syllabus.

The grade of any paper you turn in late will lose at least 10% after the beginning of the first class, 20% after the second, and 35% after the third. No late papers will be accepted after the last day of classes.

IV. Grading Policy:

Click here for parameters of evaluation and grading.

You earn your grade through work done for this course.  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 are encouraged to consult with the professor during office hours or by appointment both before and after exams and written assignments.  
For your protection, in case of errors of recording, you should keep copies of all exams and assignments until you have received official notice of your final grade.  Any and all materials done for this course may become the property of the professor, who may use them for assessment, evaluative, scholarly, or research purposes. 
Your final grade will be based on a percentage (above 90%=A, 89-80%=B, etc.) of the sum of the assignments. Different assignments will be worth certain point values, as listed in your printed syllabus.  

V.  Map Locations

Unless you know where things are, you cannot understand how they are related to each other.  Therefore portions of exams and quizzes of this course require knowledge about historical geography:  how peoples and countries develop significant spatial relations over time. Each exam will have a map portion, but you will also take a map quiz by computer using WebCT.

You are responsible at all times for the general topography of Europe, but as we move through history some geographic locations become newly significant.  For each exam, covering each part of the course, the new locations are listed, but you are still responsible for the earlier ones. 

For study and practise, you can find a map at <>.  Also go to WebCT <> for study paths, self-tests and the quizzes, and a list of all the specific locations you must know.

For help with computer issues on WebCT, contact Ms. Ferkel-Priebe at (570) 208-5900, telephone extension 5814 or email at

You may take the quizzes any time after they are posted, before their respective due dates and times.

VI. Class Topics and Websources:

You have to write a paper on sources.  For more details consult your printed syllabus.  Choose from sources in the right hand column in boldface along the left edge of that column (the center of the page).  Those links in small type within [brackets] are not to be used as choices, but may be valuable for further information. 


PART I The Study of History and the formation of the Ancient West

Big Questions

Links to Websources

How do historians study, divide up, and understand our past?

[What is History?The Historical MethodSources used for History]

What important cultural survival techniques did our ancestors invent?

[Oetzi at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology]

What often-ignored problems did civilization create?

[Becoming HumanCaves of Lascaux;
European Prehistoric Art; Timeline of Human Evolution; Lucy FAQ]

What did various Middle Eastern civilizations contribute to the West? Code of Hammurabi

10 Commandments

[full version of Law Code of HammurabiCommandments;
JerusalemEgypt's Golden empireAncient Egypt; Ancient Near East]

How did the Greeks and later Hellenistic rulers succeed and fail in politics? Revolution 

Melian Dialogue 

Pericles' Funeral Oration

Plutarch on Alexander

[the Ancient City of AthensThe History of Hellas]

How did Gręco-Roman culture expand through and unify the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Middle East? Apology of Socrates

Death of Socrates

[Seven Wonders; Ancient Greece Museum]

How did the Rome grow from a city-state to an empire unifying the Mediterranean? Rome in Defeat read these three "pages:"  1, 2, 3  (Click on each number). 

Caesar's Assassination


[The battle of Trasimeno; The Illustrated History of the Roman Empire];
Rome Republic to Empire; The Roman Empire;  Into the Roman World]

How did the new religion of Christianity begin? Matthew 18 and Matthew 19  

Pliny on the Christians

[See also persecutions;   From Jesus to Christ;  The Roman World of JesusPatron Saints]

How did the Roman Empire fall in the West, yet last another 1000 years in the East? contra>Roman Imperialism

pro>Roman Imperialism

Sack of Rome

[Some (Sometimes Silly) Explanations for the Fall of Rome;
Church of Imperial Byzantium; Jihad]

PART IIa The Medieval West

Big Questions

Links to Websources

How did German rule combine with the Roman heritage int eh West? Conversion of Clovis  (You don't have to consider "The Incident of the Vase at Soissons," although it is interesting). 


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (just on Alfred see year 878)

[Lindesfarne Gospel (click on Pinnacles of Anglo-Sazon Art)]

How did the Franks and the Carolingian family succeed briefly in uniting a Western European empire, but ultimately fail? Charlemagne

Charlemagne's capitulary 


 How did the feudal politics and manorial economics change government and the creation of wealth? Homage and Fealty

Annals of Xanten

How did more centralized governments form in Western Europe?  William the Conqueror  

Chaos in England

Magna Carta

[Domesday Bookfirst crusade
Bayeux Tapestry; Paris at the time of Philip Augustus]

How did the reforms of monks lead to a reform of the wider Church and the creation of the medieval papacy?   Life of St. Bernard (You only have to consider the first life, not the one beginning "From the Acta Sanctorum of Arnold...," although it is interesting).

Urban riot

[Life in a medieval monastery--
(check out the map "click here" box at top right)
Tour of Durham Cathedral]

How did the popes fight with kings and other religious movements?   Dictatus Papæ

Fourth Lateran Council

How did the revival of trade & towns change the West?

Conversion of Peter Waldo;

Francis of Assisi 

Black Death   

[Luttrel Psalter (click on Glimpse of Medieval Life);
simulated guild hall]


PART IIb Early Modern Europe

Big Questions

Links to Websources

 How did late medieval monarchs concentrate still more power? Golden Bull

Trial of Joan of Arc

 How did the Renaissance promote the West's transition into modernity?   The Prince, Chapter 18 

 [Florence;  A Critique of the Renaissance Salem]

How did the Western Latin Church begin to split apart during the Reformation? Luther Against the Peasants

[WormsReformation Picture GalleryReformation Guide]

How did further divisions among Christians culminate in wars over religion? Pope Pius V's Bull Against Elizabeth

[Index of Forbidden Books]

How did the "Voyages of Discovery" begin colonial imperialism by Europeans? Columbus letter las Casas

[slaveship; Food and ColumbusSpices (Duyfken Voyage Recreation) Australia]

PART III The Modern World

Big Questions

Links to Websources

How did the First Scientific Revolution energize economics and society? Galileo 

[See also Sci-Rev-WeblinksANSPRACHE VON JOHANNES PAUL II. ...]

How did Enlightenment thinkers conceive of improvements to human society? Voltaire  


How did absolutism gain ascendancy in Early Modern Europe? Louis XIV's court

Peter the Great (Consider just Bishop Burnet's bio).

Maria Theresa

Frederick II on government  

[Catherine the Great]

How did democratic forms of government spread in the West? Petition of Right

Bill of Rights

Declaration of Independence 

[Execution of Charles I]

How did the revolutionaries in France execute political changes?  

"What is the Third Estate?"

Declaration of the Rights of Man

[La Marseillaise LeveeExecution of Louis XVI]

How did war alter the French Revolution and cause Napoleon's rise and fail?

Catechism on Napoleon 

Napoleon's "state of the empire"


How did competing ideologies offer alternatives in the 19th Century? Carlsbad Resolutions

Syllabus of Errors

[Malthus; Proclamations of Revolution in France1848]

How did inventions and capitalism produce the Industrial Revolution? Loss of Wool Spinning

[industrialization interactive; Victorian Webpoetry]

How did socialists address problems manufactured by the Industrial Revolutions? Gotha Program (1875) 

[Communist manifesto; women miners in coal pits]

How did naturalistic science generate new and unsettling knowledge? Sigmund Freud on Civilization

Darwin on the Descent of Man

[John Paul II on Evolution]

How did the Europeans come to dominate Asia and Africa?  pro> Imperialism, 1884

contra>Imperialism, 1902

[Profits from imperialism?]

How did the United States of America become a world power?

Latin America

[San Juan HillBeveridge, March of the Flag]

How did various nationalisms unify and divide Western nations?

Mazzini's On the Duties of Man

Realpolitik of the Ems Dispatch



How did nationalism spur the decline of the Ottoman Empire?

Germans as Huns

Young Turks

Plight of Muslims

All topics are tentative; the instructor may change them at his discretion.   

Some general sites that have valuable information, if you want to learn more on many subjects in Western Civilization:  

Hyperhistory <> has many maps, timelines, and brief historical overviews.

Richard Hooker, World Cultures, <> has various learning modules, atlases and other resources.

Stephen Kreis, The History Guide <> contains lots of lectures on Western Civilization.

World History at Frank <> contains timelines, maps, descriptions, some opinions.  

History of Costume <>.

Web Chronology Project of North Park University <>.

Gerhard Rempel's lectures:  <>.

History at Bedford St. Martin's: <> contains maps, textbook supplementary material, useful information about studying history and links to other sites.  

Articles, books, and links at <>.

Paul Halsall, Internet History Sourcebooks Project <>.

Purpose | General Requirements | Exams | Maps | Written Assignments

 Grades | Grading Policy | Topics | Academic Honesty | Sources

 Presentation | WebCT | WEBSources | General History Links

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