History 121: Western Civilization through the Reformation 
3 contact & credit hours. No lab.

Catalog Course Description: This Course introduces western civilization from pre-history to the early modern era. Topics include ancient Greece, Rome, and Christian institutions of the Middle Ages, and the emergence of national monarchies in Western Europe. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in early western civilization.

Required Textbook: Jackson A. Spielvogel, Western Civilization: A Brief History

Course Requirements: We will read and discuss Chapters 1 to 15 in the textbook in the order in which the chapters appear. Additional readings may be assigned as well as projects based on my website found at:

Student Outcomes: These essay exams will be based on the following questions:

  1. Describe the ways in which neolithic society differs from paleolithic society? How and why do these differences appear?
  2. What are the characteristics of civilization? Illustrate your generalizations with specific examples from Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations.
  3. Trace the evolution of religious practice and belief in Mespotamian, Persian, Hellenic, and Hellenistic societies as these elements may have contributed to the development of Judaism and eventually Christian and Muslim belief and practice.
  4. Choose one of the following fields and discuss the contributions of the Greeks to that field:
    1. literature
    2. science & mathematics
    3. law and government
    4. art & architecture
  5. What is the difference between history and the past? Explain when and how the writing of history originated. What are the methods historians use? What are the qualifications and training of the authors of your textbook?
  6. Discuss the ideas of three Greek philosophers. How did these ideas change the ways human beings look at the world we live in?
  7. What are the differences and similarities between Hellenic and Hellenistic civilization? When, how, and why do these differences appear?
  8. Understand the major factors responsible for the evolution of the Roman Republic.
  9. Examine the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
  10. Trace and analyze the origins and development of Christianity through Gregory the Great.
  11. Discuss the survival of Roman and Greek traditions and ideas in Byzantium.
  12. Trace the origins and development of Arab Islamic civilization and its impact on the West.
  13. Analyze the influence on the medieval west of Germanic peoples and traditions with particular focus on the Kingdom of the Franks.
  14. Analyze the blending of Roman, Christian, and Germanic traditions in the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire.
  15. Discuss feudalism, manorialism, and monasticism as expressive of the medieval worldview.
  16. Describe the realities of the High Middle Ages: the growth of towns and the bourgeoisie, the founding of the universities, the building of cathedrals, and the launching of the Crusades.
  17. Account for the growing power of the papacy and the beginnings of national states. Explain how those institutions complemented each other and where and how conflict between them occurred.
  18. Describe the causes and effects of the great plague, the Hundred Years War, the population decline of the fourteenth century, and other factors, which contributed to the collapse of the Medieval Order.
  19. Analyze the origins, development, and activities of the Renaissance and their subsequent effects on Western Civilization.
  20. Discuss the factors responsible for the Protestant Reformation; the important differences that develop between Catholics and Protestants, and among Protestants themselves; and the long-term consequences of these developments.