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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Western Civilization I"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Luca De Caprariis
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:30-9:45 AM
OFFICE HOURS: MW: 3:00-4:00; TTH: 11:30-12:30

This survey course explores the foundations of Western societies and cultures and the transformations they underwent from prehistory through the Renaissance. Emphasis is placed on the ways in which diverse ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern peoples interacted to lay the groundwork for Western civilization, the ways in which political structures and cultures changed over the time period covered, and the development of Western religions and cultures. In addition, through the examination and discussion of a range of primary source materials, the course serves as an introduction to the practice of history, i.e., how historians examine the past and draw conclusions about it.
There will be two class meetings a week, composed of a combination of lecture and discussion. Most of the discussion portion of class will be spent examining and analyzing primary sources and other readings. Please feel free to ask questions about the lectures or the reading.

In successfully completing this course, you should:

Cultivate an understanding of the most important themes and developments of Western history from prehistory to the 16th century C.E.;

Develop an awareness of some of the more important modes of analysis that historians use to reconstruct and interpret the past.

You should work on developing (and improving) the following skills:

Critical analysis of primary sources;

Critical analysis of scholarly arguments;

Developing well-reasoned, well-supported arguments;

Communicating your arguments effectively in writing and oral discussion.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Western Civilization: Beyond BoundariesThomas F. Noble, et al.Wadsworth Cengage Learning9781133610137  
Western Civilization in a Global Context: Prehistory to the Enlightenment Sources and DocumentsKenneth L. CampbellBloomsbury9781472530332  

midterm examination 30%
Final Examination 35%
paperstudents will write three 4 page papers. 30%
in class participation 5%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance is mandatory. You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, which must be documented.

The use of any computer or phone in the classroom is not allowed. If you have a valid justification for the use of a computer please contact me.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.






3  Introduction and Overview. Agriculture and Towns. The Development of Early Civilizations in the Near East.

I. Mesopotamia.

N: 1-16. C: 12-18.


5  II. Egypt.

N: 16-26. C: 26-29


10  Invasion and Crisis in the Near East. The Hebrews and Monotheism

N: 28-35; 39-51. C: 19-26; 40-46.


12   The Persian Empire

N: 35-39. C: 49-52; 66-68.


17   The Origins of Greek Civilization. The Emergence of the City States.

N: 52-63. C: 60-65.


19   Sparta and Athens.

N: 63-73.

24   Democracy and Imperialism. The Persian and Peloponnesian Wars and the decline of the City States.

N: 73-80.


26  Culture, Politics and Philosophy in Classical Greece

N: 80-88. C: 68-85.




1   Alexander and the Hellenistic World

N: 89-104.


3    Hellenistic Culture: Greeks and non-Greeks in the Hellenistic World

N: 104-116


8  Rome: The Origins and the Republic.

N: 118-134.


10  The socio-economic consequences of imperialism. The collapse of the Republican system. N: 134-148. C: 88-101.


15   Imperial Rome to the Crisis of the third century

N: 149-166. C: 110-139.


17  The Early Christian World.

N: 166-175.


22  Midterm Examination


24  The Late Empire. A Christian Empire?

N: 177-191.C. 142-150


29  Heirs of Rome: Germanic Kingdoms, Islam and the Byzantine Empire

N: 191-222. C: 166-190


31   Carolingian Europe. Early Medieval Culture

N: 222-238. C: 150-163; 192-200




5   Invasions and the development of Local rule: the Feudal Society

N: 239-245; 273-282.


7   The cross and the scepter: the conflict between religious and secular authority. Reform and revival of the Monarchies.

N: 252-264; 282-300.


12   Christendom on the March: The Crusades.

N: 264-271. C: 223-226


14  Crisis: the great Schism, the Plague and the Hundred Years’ War

N: 303-337; C: 242-267.

19    The Waning of the Middle Ages. Social and Cultural Change.

N: 317-391.


21   Humanism and the Renaissance.

N: 339-372; C: 270-294.


26   Overseas Expansion: The First Global Empires.

N. 373-401. C: 296-319.


28  The Reformation

N: 404-424. C: 322-331




3   Religion and Politics in 16th Century Europe

N: 404-424. C: 322-331


5   Catholic Reformation or Counter-reformation?

N: 425-432. C: 331-334.