Western Civilization I

Instructor: Dr. Martin A. Klimke

Rutgers History Department, Fall 2006
History 510:201:05, Tuesday /Thursday 1:00-2:20
Classroom: Conklin 446, Rutgers University, Newark


This course surveys the events and issues in Western civilization from its beginnings to 1700. It broadly examines the basic political, economic, as well as cultural developments and key concepts that have shaped the path of Europe. The societies of the Near East, Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval societies and world views, feudalism and church reform, the Renaissance, global European expansion, the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War will form the periodical demarcations of this class. Particular attention will be paid to the evolution of democratic institutions and the classical philosophy of Greece and Rome and their influence on succeeding societies as well as the fundamental role of religion in Medieval cultures.

However, at the same time we will transcend these boundaries by examining various long-term aspects such as individual liberties and citizenship, class structures, gender roles, ethnic identities or intercultural contacts. Readings are composed of a variety of primary and secondary sources and will allow multi-faceted insights into the long-term developments in Europe and of the idea of the West.

Course Requirements:
Attendance is mandatory for this class and a lack thereof will result in a failure grade. Further requirements for this course include that you participate regularly in class and discussions, take a midterm and a comprehensive final exam. In addition, there will be several reading quizzes, both announced and unannounced, during the semester. The class will consist of an active lecture format, meaning that I plan to intersperse the lectures with discussions and debates of the reading and/or additional primary sources. It is therefore essential that you complete the assigned readings on time.

Required Reading:

  • Lynn Hunt, et al., The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Volume 1, To 1740, 2nd Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005)
  • Katherine Lualdi, Sources of the Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Volume 1,To 1740, 2nd Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005)
  • David Harris Sacks, ed., Sir Thomas More Utopia (by Sir Thomas More) 1999, Bedford/St. Martin’s