HIST 201

Introduction to

Western Civilization: Antiquity to 1650

Curtiss 15

M-F 8:40-10:40 am

Robinson M. Yost



What is history? What is the past? Why should we study it? Why should we care? While addressing these questions, this course examines the rises & falls, continuities & discontinuities in the many "civilizations" which have comprised "Western civilization." We will examine general themes, specific people, pivotal events, military developments, and broader societal trends. More importantly, we will focus on the uses of history and placing "facts" in context.

History requires interpreting many different sources. Hence, the study of history entails reading, and lots of it. Studying history involves examining non-written materials as well. And history always involves different levels of interpretation. It is never "Just the Facts." Good history reaches plausible and reasonable conclusions based upon the best available evidence. Historians cannot (or, at least, should not) make things up.

Think about how survey level courses distort their subject matter. Why is this true? How is history different from other fields of study? What separates these disciplines? We will consider questions like these in this class.

How to find me: Website:

Office and mailbox: 612 Ross Hall http://members.tripod.com/Yosty

Office number: 294-7761

E-mail: rm.yost@mailcity.com

Office hours: any day after class or by appt.

Grades & Exams: Required Reading:

First examination 100 pts. McKay, John P., et. al. A History of

Second examination 125 pts. Of Western Society, Volume I, 5th

Third examination 150 pts. Edition (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, Publishing, 1995)

Participation/quizzes 100 pts. In-class handouts


Exams combine essay with identifications.

No multiple choice! No curving of grades!

No make-ups exams without a legitimate excuse.

All students take the final.

Purposes of this course: Sure-Fire Ways to a Bad Grade:

Improve reading & writing skills. Never attend class or walk out of class.

Learn about the uses and abuses of history. Never open your book.

Practice analyzing massive amounts of material. Take expensive "in-class" naps.

Practice interpreting facts in historical context. Don’t listen, take notes or participate.

Practice using specifics to support generalizations. Slump in chair, fold arms, drool, stare.

Practice asking thoughtful questions. Complete exams with lightning speed. 


 The Ancient World

Introduction/Prehistory Intro

Near East Origins Ch. 1 June 15

• Mighty Empires in the Near East

• Small Kingdoms in the Near East Ch. 2 June 16

The Legacy of Greece Ch. 3 June 17

Hellenistic Diffusion Ch. 4 June 18

The Rise of Rome Ch. 5 June 19

The Pax Romana Ch. 6 June 22

• The "Fall" of Rome

First Exam Ch 1-6 June 23

The Medieval Period

The Making of Europe

• Monasticism Ch. 7 June 24

• Byzantium and Islam

The Carolingian World Ch. 8 June 25

Revival, Recovery, and Reform Ch. 9 June 26

• Gregorian Revolution

• The Crusades

The High Middle Ages Ch. 10 June 29

Medieval Universities and Gothic Cathedrals Ch. 11 June 30

Times of Trouble (Famine, Plague, War) Ch. 12 July 1

Second Exam Ch. 7-12 July 2

Age of the Renaissance Ch. 13 July 3

Reform and Renewal in the Christian Church Ch. 14 July 6

Age of European Expansion & Religious Wars Ch. 15 July 7

Absolutism & Constitutionalism in Western Europe Ch. 16 July 8

Absolutism in Eastern Europe Ch. 17 July 9

Final Exam Ch. 13-17 July 10 

Additional Suggestions:

The object of any course should be to learn as much as possible in a limited amount of time. Like many other subjects, history is cumulative, therefore, you should attend class regularly, listen carefully, take good notes, and ask questions. Please keep up with the readings! Do not expect cramming the night before an exam to result in a desirable outcome. It simply will not work.

Most often, survey classes like this one are like the Platte River, an inch deep and a mile wide. In other words, depth of knowledge is usually sacrificed to cover a massive amount of material in a limited time.

In this class, you will be expected to read the book for breadth. As much as possible, class lectures and discussion will focus on depth. There will be numerous in-class writing assignments. These will make up a large portion of your participation grade, but will not be given number grades. You will be expected to talk in class.