History 112: Western Civilization I (to 1500)

 

Fall Semester 2016

 

Section B: 1:40 – 2:55 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Instructor:

Dr. John Moser
119 Andrews
(419) 289-5231

Email

Office Hours: 10:00 am – 12:00 noon Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment
 

Required Reading:

Josiah Ober, Naomi J. Norman, and Mark C. Carnes, The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BC, 4th edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014) ISBN: 0393938876

 

R. Scott Smith, Ancient Rome: An Anthology of Sources (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2014) ISBN: 1624660002

 

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Norton Critical Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992) ISBN: 0393962202

 

David E. Henderson and Frank Kirkpatrick, Constantine and the Council of Nicaea – 325 CE: Defining Orthodoxy and Heresy in Christianity (Course packet, 2014)

 

Paul R. Wright, Machiavelli and the Florentine Republic, 1494-1512 (Course packet, 2016)

 

Students will also need access to the Christian Bible (any edition, including online)

 

 

Course Description:

 

This course will study the political history of Western Civilization from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, by focusing on three critical episodes of that period—Athens after the fall of the Thirty Tyrants (403 BC), the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and the Renaissance (late 15th century).  We will examine all of these in considerable detail through the use of role-playing simulations from the Reacting to the Past series.  This means that you will actually take on the role of someone in Athens early in the 5th century BC, a leading figure in the Christian Church in the early 4th century AD, and a resident of Florence in the late 1490s.

 

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1.    Remember the major periods and figures in the history of the Western world up to the Renaissance.

2.    Describe the major events in the history of the Western world up to the Renaissance.

3.    Appraise the significance of the major figures in the history of the Western world up to the Renaissance.

4.    “Think like a historian” – that is, draw inferences about historical events from primary historical sources after considering those sources in a historical context.

5.    Give an account of the main attempts within Western tradition to answer the question, “What is civilization?”

 

 

Course Policies:

 

Unless you have some valid reason for using a laptop, such as a documented physical condition that prevents you from taking notes the traditional way, please do not use one in my class. And please keep your phone silenced and out of sight.

 

Although this is a face-to-face course, we will be using the learning management system Blackboard for many of its features.  Certain course readings have been uploaded to it, and in most cases you will be expected to upload your written work there as well.  If you have never used Blackboard before, you should familiarize yourself with its operation by visiting http://ashland.blackboard.com and visiting the “Video Help Center for Students.”

 

The following factors will make up your final grade—

 

Papers (40%)

 

The number of written assignments, as well as their length, their subject matter, and when they are due, will depend on the role that you play in each simulation.  You are expected to write a total of 4,000 words (12-14 pages) over the course of the semester, and each paper must be written in character; that is, it is to be written as the person you are portraying would have written. No paper shorter than 500 words will be graded, nor will it count toward the 4,000-word minimum.

 

Each of your papers will receive a score out of 20, broken down as follows:

I. Logic (5 pts). This rubric assesses the structural soundness of your argument. Is your paper well-organized? Does it lead the reader/audience through a series of logical steps, each well-supported by appropriate evidence, to your conclusion? Do you use logically appropriate “transition words” (and, yet, but, because, whereas, nevertheless, furthermore, however, therefore, etc.) to connect each sentence to the next, and each paragraph to the next? If you have resorted to any logical fallacies in the hope of bamboozling your audience, have you correctly labeled these in your footnotes? (If I find a logical fallacy that you have not labeled, I will assume it is a mistake and deduct points.)

II. Content (5 pts). This rubric assesses whether or not you have “done your homework” on the issues your speech addresses. Your role sheet does not contain everything you need to know in order to make an argument for your position; it only tells you what you want to happen and (broadly) why. This is not enough material with which to persuade someone else to share your opinion – especially if that person has done her homework and knows that you are talking nonsense! Remember that you are dealing with real historical places, people and events; while you are free to suggest a different course of action from that which was historically taken, you must know what the range of plausible possibilities for such action was – which you can only find out by undertaking historical research. Therefore, you should take your role description only as a starting-point – a blueprint to help you generate good questions about the material, which you will then try to answer through your research. Ask yourself, “What kind of information would I need to include in this paragraph in order to convince a stranger that the point I am making is valid?” Once you have your questions, use the Game Book and the other primary sources, as well as the rich resources of the Internet and the library, to track down the information you need. (Hint: if I can find out that one of the "facts" or assumptions in your paper is wrong merely by performing a simple Google search, you haven't done your homework.)

III. Style (5 pts). Under this rubric, I consider all the things that make your paper rhetorically effective: clarity and concision, word choice, appropriate use of metaphor and/or other figurative language, freedom from cliché, and most of all, impeccable grammar and usage.  “My character wouldn’t have been educated enough to use proper grammar” is not an acceptable excuse.

 

IV. Authenticity (5 pts). This rubric addresses the extent to which the paper represents something that your character would write.  Not only should your character be obvious in the arguments you are making (in other words, you should not be arguing a position contrary to what your role description dictates), as well as your overall style.  For example, a radical democrat in the Athens game should have a simple, but forceful manner of writing, appropriate for motivating the common people of Athens.

In most cases, papers will be due not during class, but rather by noon on the day before the class when the issue on which you are writing will be discussed.  This will give other students the opportunity to study your words before class—and perhaps to prepare a rebuttal.  Papers should be uploaded to designated drop boxes located at the course’s Blackboard site. 

 

Speeches (40%)

 

Most of you will be expected to make at least four speeches to the class over the course of the semester—two for the first game, and one each for the second and third. 

 

It is likely that your speeches will address the same subjects as your papers.  While it is certainly acceptable in this case to refer to notes during your in-class speeches, you absolutely may not read your speech from a prepared text.  In other words, simply reading aloud from your paper will not satisfy your speech requirements—nor are your fellow students likely to appreciate it.

 

Speeches will be graded according to the criteria defined above for papers.  However, in place of authenticity speeches will be assessed on:

 

IV. Delivery (5 pts). This rubric assesses the effectiveness of your speech as an oral performance: do you establish contact with your audience, use appropriate vocal emphasis, and speak with expression? Do you avoid stumbling over words, misplacing the emphasis in sentences, and losing momentum between high points?

 

Attendance and Participation (20%)

 

As you have probably gathered by now, this is not a typical university course.  There will be very few lectures.  The course will succeed or fail based on the willingness and ability of every student to participate meaningfully in class discussions, both in and out of character.

 

Of course, the first requirement is that students attend class diligently.  No student may miss more than two class sessions without his or her grade being adversely affected.  In addition, keep in mind that during the game’s public meetings—in other words, those class sessions when students will be “in character” (September 20 – October 6, October 27 – November 10, and November 29 – December 8)—an absence could seriously affect the ability of your particular faction (your team, so to speak) to accomplish its objectives.

 

But while your attendance is required in order to earn a decent grade in this course, it is not sufficient.  To receive a grade higher than a C you must participate fully in class discussions and in the games, above and beyond the speeches you will be required to give.  Even when you are not addressing the group, you should be questioning those who are.  At the very least you should—during the simulations—make a habit of expressing your support for arguments of which you approve, and your hostility to those of which you do not!  Remember, for the character that you portray this would not have simply been an academic exercise; these would have been questions—often literally—of life or death.

 

 

Academic Integrity:

 

I strongly advise you to examine the university’s academic integrity policy, which may be found here. All students are responsible for maintaining the highest standards of honesty and integrity in every phase of their academic careers.  The penalties for academic dishonesty are severe, and ignorance is not an acceptable defense. 

 

Course Calendar, with assignments:

August

30

Course Introduction and Public Speaking Workshop

September

1

Pre-Game: “Athens Besieged”

Reading: Materials for “Athens Besieged” (handout)

 

6

Introduction to The Threshold of Democracy, Athens in 403 B.C.E.

Reading: Threshold of Democracy, pp. 3-86

 

8

Discussion of Plato’s Republic

Reading: Threshold of Democracy, pp. 89-235

Reading quiz due

 

13

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #1

Topic: The Reconciliation Agreement: a) Should Athenians forget the “past wrongs” of the supporters of the Thirty? b) Should Athenians be prohibited from filing lawsuits against the supporters of the Thirty?

 

15

CLASS CANCELED

 

20

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #2

Topic #1: Electorate: Should metics and worthy slaves be admitted and allowed to vote in the Pnyx? To serve as jurors in the law courts?

Topic #2: May be chosen by this session’s president, but this must be announced in time for players to prepare for it in advance.

 

22

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #3

Topic #1: Social Welfare: Should Assemblymen and jurors by paid?

Topic #2: May be chosen by this session’s president, but this must be announced in time for players to prepare for it in advance.

 

27

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #4

Trial Day: This session is reserved for a trial. If no archon requests a trial in advance of this session, then the gamemaster will ask this session’s president to hold a regular Assembly session and announce the topic in advance.

 

29

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #5

Topic #1: Should laws and major decisions be made by the Assembly, or by a governing council? If the latter, how should the members of the council be chosen?

Topic #2: May be chosen by this session’s president, but this must be announced in time for players to prepare for it in advance.

October

4

Threshold of Democracy: Game Session #6

Topic #1: Remilitarization / restoration of the Athenian empire: Should Athens rebuild its fleet, recommence tribute collection, and reconstitute its empire?

Topic #2: May be chosen by this session’s president, but this must be announced in time for players to prepare for it in advance.

 

6

Debriefing for The Threshold of Democracy

Reading: The Threshold of Democracy: What Happened in History (handout)

 

11

INTERLUDE: Ancient Rome

Reading: Ancient Rome, pp. 332-354, 361-365, 380-381, 434-444, 483-485.

 

13

CLASS CANCELED

 

18

Introduction to Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E.

Reading: Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E. (all of it)

 

20

Discussion of the New Testament

Reading: Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; Acts of the Apostles; Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians; the Gospel of Thomas.

 

25

Pre-Game: “Egyptian Prison and the Council of Antioch”

Reading: Ancient Rome, pp. 220-226, 257-266, 329-331, 501-502; materials for “Egyptian Prison and the Council of Antioch” (to be distributed by gamemaster)

Reading quiz due

 

27

Council of Nicaea: Game Session #1

Topic: Should the Council approve a Creed outlining the basic tenets of Christianity? If so, what should it say? Specifically, what should it say about the nature of God and Jesus, and the relationship between them?

November

1

Council of Nicaea: Game Session #2

Topic #1: The Creed, continued.

Topic #2: To be decided by Ossius, but must be announced in time for players to prepare for it in advance.

 

3

Council of Nicaea: Game Session #3

Topics: If the Creed has been approved, Ossius may select two or three topics for discussion, but these must be announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

 

8

CLASS CANCELED

 

10

Debriefing for Constantine and the Council of Nicaea

Reading: The Council of Nicaea: What Really Happened (handout)

 

15

Introduction to Machiavelli and the Florentine Republic, 1494-1512

Reading: Machiavelli and the Florentine Republic (all of it)

 

17

Discussion of Machiavelli

Reading: The Prince, pp. 1-74, 90-101, 102-104, 107-111.

 

22

Discussion of Savonarola

Reading: Savonarola, “Do Penance,” Letters to his Parents, and Canzoni (handouts)

Reading quiz due

 

24

THANKSGIVING—NO CLASS

 

29

Machiavelli: Game Session #1

Topic #1: Republican Governance: should Priors and other state officials continue to be chosen by sortition, or by election?

Topic #2: Should those prosecuted for political crimes have the right of appeal to the Grand Council?

December

1

Machiavelli: Game Session #2

Topic #1: “Bonfire of the Vanities” and the moral reform of Florence

Topic #2: To be determined by the Priors, but announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

 

6

Machiavelli: Game Session #3

Topic #1: To be determined by the Priors, but announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

Topic #2: To be determined by the Priors, but announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

 

8

Machiavelli: Game Session #4

Topic #1: To be determined by the Priors, but announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

Topic #2: To be determined by the Priors, but announced in time for players to prepare for them in advance.

 

13

1:30 – 3:30 pm: Debriefing for Machiavelli and the Florentine Republic

Reading: Machiavelli and the Florentine Republic: What Really Happened; Machiavelli’s “Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence” (handouts)