Texas Wesleyan University Course Syllabus

Fall 2018

Course: HIS 2301-20 World History to 1648


Instructor: Christopher Ohan

Meeting: Mondays & Wednesdays 10-10:50 in EJW 213

Phone: 817-531-4913

Office: PMC 244

E-mail: cohan@txwes.edu

Office Hours: Mon/Wed 11-1 (in ASC), Tue 9-12, 4-6, Thurs 9-12, or by appointment

Web: http://www.historymuse.net


“The gentleman is conversant with righteousness; the small man is conversant with profit.”

—Confucius, The Analects


Course Description:  “A survey of human experience to the seventeenth century with emphasis upon the growth of Western institutions and concepts.” Because of the large time period covered by this course, the class will not be events-driven but will, instead focus on the importance of major ideas for the different periods surveyed.


This course fulfills 3 credit hours towards the 12 credit hour GEC requirement in Cultural Literacy.


Learning Objectives                                                                                                Program Goals


Objective 1: Students completing this course should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the major events in world history to 1648

1. Develop a general knowledge of human history, including a basic chronology of both western and non-western societies covering time periods from the ancient to the modern.

Objective 2: Student ought to be able to use historical comparison as an analytic tool; recognize the different interpretations of the various themes within this half world history.

2.  Understand Historical Interpretation and Historiography.


Objective 3: Students should appreciate and interpret multiple forms of evidence (textual, visual, oral, statistical, artifacts from material culture); differentiate between primary and secondary sources and understand how each is used via

a.        reading essays and primary sources relative to the period

b.        writing DBQ essays using primary sources.

c.        using computer software to produce all assignments.


3. Learn the various skills associated with the craft of history. These skills include:

a. Reading Comprehension and Cognitive Skills

b. Historical Thinking Skills

c. Research Skills

d. Written Communication Skills

e. Oral Communication Skills

f. Computer Literacy

Objective 4:  This course is an optional course for other history majors and satisfies the 3-hour degree requirement of either HIS 2301 or HIS 2303.

4. Students completing a major in the Department of History will be prepared to enter graduate programs in History, teach History in secondary or middle schools, or enter other careers open to graduates with degrees in the Liberal Arts.


Required Materials:

Bentley et al, Traditions and Encounters Vol. 1: to 1500, Brief 4th Edition (McGraw Hill)


Andrea and Overfield, eds., The Human Record, Sources of Global History Vol. 1, 8th Edition (Cengage)


Instructional Methods/Class Format:  Most classes will consist of a lecture (with some give and take as questions come up) and discussions of texts from the reader or website readings.  The online component of this class will consist of a video lecture that you will be expected to watch for each week.  This will free up time during class to discuss the week’s documents from the source reader (Andrea, Overfield) above.  On the university level, I assume that you will complete the assigned readings for each week.  It is also assumed that you will attend all classes.


Workload Expectation: You are expected to complete the assigned readings from the Andrea, Overfield text prior to class (see schedule below).  This amounts to approximately 8-12 pages for each class meeting.  Readings from the textbook vary depending on the topic.  Over the course of the term there are three outside-of-class essays assigned.  These require a thoughtful reading of the documents and written responses to an essay prompt.  Students who need help with their writing are encouraged to take time to visit the Academic Success Center (ASC) which has tutors equipped to help students in History courses. 


Evaluation and Grading:  Your grade for the semester will be based on three tests (10%, 20%, 30% respectively), the average of your two highest essay grades (30%) and 10% for participation.  Please see the Grading Guidelines sheet posted on my website (above) for specific grading criteria regarding written work.


Tests:  Tests will follow the standard AP History Free-Response Question format.  This type of test is designed to assess your ability to work with and understand primary sources.  Each test will consist of one question and a set of accompanying documents.  Grades will be based on fulfilling the following objectives:  Your essay will contain a thesis which will be supported with evidence from the sources.  It should rely on/analyze a majority of the documents, address all parts of the question and consider the source’s point of view. 


Test topics will come from supplemental texts, lectures, class discussions, occasional video material, and the textbook.  Test dates are listed below.


1.        1 October

2.        31 October

3.        7 December (10:30-12:30)


MP4 Lectures:  You are expected to watch/listen to a 40-50 minute each week prior to Wednesday’s class.  The video will be posted by Monday of each week.  Be prepared to answer questions based on the information from the week’s MP4 in Wednesday’s class.


Essays.  Three short essays (2-3 typewritten pages in length) will be assigned during the course of the semester over supplemental readings.  The average of the top two essays will make up 30% of your final grade.  Late papers are not accepted.  See Essay Questions and Due Dates page below.


Attendance is mandatory.  If you miss more than 3 classes (the equivalent of one week) consider the effect on your grade.  Should you miss more, please do not offer excuses, notes or request special consideration.  Keep in mind a) that “dropping a course” is perfectly legitimate when circumstances arise that prevent you from completion, and b) that I should not be expected to change class expectations based on your circumstances. 

You are responsible for all class assignments regardless of attendance.  Quizzes covering assigned readings may be given at any time and factored into the course grade at the discretion of the instructor.  If you are unable to complete this course, you should withdraw from it.  Please note that if you miss more than the equivalent of one-week’s worth of class, I may drop you from the course.  The last date to drop is Tuesday, November 13.

                If you want mercy, pray; grace, see the Department of Religion located on the third floor of PUMC.


Texas Wesleyan University Policies:


    Academic Integrity


Familiarize yourself with Wesleyan’s Student Code of Conduct.  Academics are not only devoted to learning, research, and the advancement of knowledge, but also to the development of ethically sensitive and responsible persons. By accepting membership in this class, you are joining a community characterized by free expression, free inquiry, honesty, respect for others, and participation in constructive change.  All rights and responsibilities exercised within this academic environment shall be compatible with these principles. 


Academic Dishonesty is a breach of the Student Code of Conduct.  Dishonesty includes:

1.     Plagiarism, representing the work of another as one's own work;

2.     Preparing work for another that is to be used as that person's own work;

3.     Cheating by any method or means;

4.     Knowingly and willfully falsifying or manufacturing scientific or educational data and representing the same to be the result of scientific or scholarly experiment or research;

5.     Knowingly furnishing false information to a university official relative to academic matters;

6.     Soliciting, aiding, abetting, concealing, or attempting conduct in violation of this code.


Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course. Any offense will result in an F in the class (not simply on the assignment) and be referred to the appropriate academic officials for adjudication. If you have any questions regarding this subject please see me.  For a detailed description and further clarification, please see the link for “Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty” on my website, the 2017-2019 Wesleyan Catalog (p. 84-86), or the Student Handbook.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


·   Texas Wesleyan University adheres to a disability policy which is in keeping with relevant federal law. The University will provide appropriate accommodation as determined by the Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Michael Ellison. Students must notify instructors of any permanent or temporary disabilities and must provide documentation regarding those disabilities prior to the granting of an accommodation. For assistance, students should consult with Dr. Ellison at mellison@txwes.edu or via phone at (817) 531-7565.


·   Course syllabi are intended to provide students with basic information concerning the course. The syllabus can be viewed as a 'blueprint' for the course; changes in the syllabus can be made and students will be informed of any substantive changes concerning examinations, the grading or attendance policies and changes in project assignments.


Unified Discrimination and Harassment Reporting (Including Title IX)


As noted in the catalog under the Unified Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Texas Wesleyan University is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and sexual harassment.  If you have experienced any such discrimination or harassment, including gender- or sex-based forms, know that help and support are available from the following resources:

   Complete online incident report at https://txwes.edu/incident-report-form/

   Contact Campus Conduct Hotline (24 hours a day): (866) 943-5787

   Campus security (24 hours a day): (817) 531-4911

   Dean of Students: deanofstudents@txwes.edu OR (817) 531-4872

   Please be aware that all Texas Wesleyan University employees, other than designated confidential resources (i.e., Community Counseling Center) are required to report credible evidence of prohibited discrimination or harassment to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, or to one of the Title IX Assistant Coordinators.  If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, please contact the Community Counseling Center at (817) 531-4859 to schedule an appointment.


Note: Course syllabi are intended to provide students with basic information concerning the course. The syllabus can be viewed as a “blueprint” for the course; changes in the syllabus can be made and students will be informed of any substantive changes concerning examinations, the grading or attendance policies and changes in project assignments.


Classroom Participation:  Class discussion is an integral part of any class.  Students are expected to complete the required readings before coming to class.  If you do not complete the assigned readings prior to a class meeting, you may be quizzed or asked to leave the classroom.  Participation in class discussions will make the difference if your final course grade is borderline.  Please also note that you cannot fully participate if you are not prepared for class; this entails not just reading but, especially for Wednesday classes, watching/listening to the week’s MP4 lecture.


Make-up for the exams is discouraged and will be administered only for officially excused absences.  Students normally perform poorly on make-up exams.  Please note that the format of any makeup exam will be at the discretion of the instructor.


Internet/Blackboard:  Feel free to send email to the address above.  Please assume I have no idea who you are so include your name and course number in the message.  Keep in mind that I will not entertain discussion about grades, missed classes &etc over email—that’s why faculty have office hours.  In addition, this syllabus, the lecture/reading schedule, some of the course readings and any other class handouts will be posted on the above web address.  Announced changes to the lecture/reading schedule will be reflected in the schedule’s online version.  All MP4s will be posted on and student work turned in through Blackboard.


Writing for this course should employ standard academic formatting—double spaced, typed—with citations following either MLA or Chicago style.  If you need help with this see the guides on the links page of the class website, the Wesleyan library or the instructor.  Correct use of source information and citations is assumed on the college level.  Failure to cite or format according to one of the styles listed will result in a lower grade.  See Grading Guidelines on the class webpage for specific grading criteria regarding written work.  As stated above, the ASC has dedicated tutors for History, who can help with writing and studying so that you can improve your performance in this course.



·         Education is a privilege not a right.  While some institutions market education as a product, I offer no product but rather facilitate an opportunity.  I follow the traditional liberal arts model.  In a nutshell that means you should never say things like “I paid a lot of money for this class,” “I need a C to maintain my GPA or scholarship” or “I always make As on tests in other classes.”  Do not insult me or demean yourself by attempting to bargain for a grade.

·         I facilitate learning.  The burden of learning is always on you.

·         Since I cannot compete with your gods, please turn your cell phones and other mobile devices (AKA “gods”) off and put them away.  If a mobile device makes a sound of any kind during a class, the entire class is subject to a pop reading quiz.

·         Do not arrive late to class.  If you cannot consistently arrive on time you should probably drop.

·         Once a class meeting is underway, please do not leave/come back—plan accordingly for bathroom activities. 

·         “Extra Credit” is a term I remember from high school.  Don’t insult yourself or me by using it.

·         Since much of the class material can be related to current events (national and international), you should have a sense of what’s going on (i.e. headline news).  This, by the way, is one mark of an “educated” person.

·         I grade the quality of your work rather than the amount of time and effort you spend on it.


My Goal in teaching this class is not that you learn the history of the period covered in this course.  (Learning about the past is, however, an important consequence.)  Rather, my goal is to teach you how to think critically about the major events and developments of the past which is more useful.  For our purposes, therefore, ideas will hold precedence over facts, dates, and the like.  It is important that you consider the classroom an open forum for discussion—of anything related to the themes and topics of the course.  (Of course, any argument—whether spoken or written—must be supported.)  While I (or other students) may challenge beliefs/perspectives, realize that the purpose is not to change them.  An open/tolerant attitude is essential in this class.  Remember—this is a college course where you ought to be able to discuss things openly and intelligently.  If you choose to be intolerant and interrupt class discussion, I reserve the right to ask you to leave the classroom.



Tentative Class Topic and Reading Schedule

                (Bentley=textbook.  Other readings come from the Andrea/Overfield (AO) reader and are referred to by document number (see AO table of contents), while links are readings found online.)


Aug 20


Aug 22

How to read primary sources

Readings: Andrea P1-P15

Aug 27

Order: Mesopotamia

Readings: Bentley 1 (pp. 8-17); AO 1, 2; The Myth-Making Outlook of the Ancient Near East; Jonah

Aug 29

Ancient Hebrews

Readings: Bentley 1 (pp. 18-24); AO 12, 13, 19; Leviticus 19; Isaiah; Job

Sept 5

Order: Egypt

Readings: Bentley 2 (pp. 26-40); AO 3, 4, AO Multiple Voices I

Sept 10

Classical Societies: Introduction

Readings: Bentley 3; AO 7, 8, 9

Sept 12

China and Confucius

Readings: Bentley 6; AO 20, 21, 22, 23

Sept 17

India and Salvation

Readings: Bentley 7; AO 14, 15, 16, 17

Sept 19

Persia and Zarathustra

Readings: Bentley 5; AO 18, Inscriptions of Cyrus and Darius I

Sept 24

Persia and Greece in the Ancient World

Readings: Bentley 8 (pp. 136-141); AO 10, Selections from the Iliad, Xenophon, A Spartan Childhood,

Sept 26

DBQ Test Primer

Oct 1

Test 1

Oct 3, 8

Classical Greece and Hellenism

Readings: Bentley 8 (pp. 139-147); AO 24, Thucydides, Method of Historical Inquiry, Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, Selections from Antigone, 27, Aristotle, "Nicomachean Ethics"

Oct 10, 15

Republican Rome

Readings: Bentley 8 (pp.147-149); Polybius, The Roman Army, Livy, Lucretia & Sabine Women, Livy, The Second Punic War, Dio Cassius, In Defense of Caesar and Monarchy, Cicero, On Duty

Oct 17

Imperial Rome

Readings: Bentley 8 (pp. 149-154), 9 (pp. 170-174); AO 35, 36, Aurelius, Meditations; Jerome, The Fate of Rome

Oct 22

Rome and Christianity

Readings: Bentley 8 (pp. 154-157); 9, AO 42, 43, 44, Augustine, City of God

Oct 24

Legacies of Rome: Byzantium/Western Europe

Readings: Bentley 10; AO Multiple Voices VIII

Oct 29

Legacy of Rome: Islam

Readings: Bentley 11; AO 45, 46, 47, Multiple Voices VI

Oct 31

Test 2


Nov 5

The Mongol Conquests

Readings: Bentley 14; AO 77, 79, 81

Nov 7

Migration, trade, and empire in Sub-Saharan Africa

Readings: Bentley 15; AO 66, 67, 68

Nov 12

Medieval Europe

Readings: Bentley 16; Feudal documents; Innocent III, On the Misery of the Human Condition

Nov 14

Europe: the High Middle Ages

Readings: Bentley 16; AO 64, Aquinas, Summa, Abelard, Inquiry into Divergent Views of Church Fathers, John of Salisbury, On the Liberal Arts, What is a Scholar?

Nov 26

Tolerance and Intolerance: Islamic and Christian Spain

Readings: Bentley 16; Ibn Abd-el-Hakem: The Islamic Conquest of Spain; Royal Grants to the Jewish Community of Barcelona; The Expulsion from Spain

Nov 28

European Renaissance

Readings: Bentley 18; Jean de Venette, The Black Death, Boccaccio, Decameron; Pico, Oration on the Dignity of Man, Machiavelli, Prince

Dec 3

Beginnings of European Dominance

Readings: Bentley 18; AO 72, 84, 85, Sale, Conquest of Paradise, Treaty of Westphalia;

Dec 7

Final Exam (10:30-12:30)



HIS 2301 Essay Questions and Due Dates

Fall 2018


Papers should fully answer each set of questions, be logical, coherent, and grammatically sound.  Keep in mind that good essays contain specific rather than generalized information/examples and rely on primary sources. 


The objective of these assignments is for you to demonstrate an understanding of and ability to base arguments on primary sources.  None of the questions asks for an opinion, but all require an argument, which is based on evidence.


All essays must be 2-3 pages (typed and double-spaced, 12-point font with 1-inch margins all around, MLA or Chicago/Turabian style).  Paper will be submitted in Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the dates listed below.  The will be marked online according to the grading rubric there.  You are responsible for reading my comments.  Late papers are not accepted.


Remember that only two of the papers will count toward your final course grade.  If you write all three, only the top two grades will be used. 



Essay 1: Due 19 September


Explain the perspectives of Confucianism (AO 21), Legalism (AO 22) and Daoism (AO 20, 23) and how each seeks to provide order.


Argue which philosophical system offers the best opportunity for creating an orderly society.


Essay 2: Due 7 November


We have discussed the legacy of Rome being manifest in three different cultures: Islamic civilization, Byzantium and Western Europe.  Begin by comparing and contrasting these cultural groups.


Then, by drawing on primary sources (or the lack thereof) construct an argument that explains why Islamic civilization by 1100 far surpassed the other two.


Essay 3: Due 3 December


Based on Machiavelli’s The Prince, describe the ideal attributes of a political leader. How does his concept of human nature differ from the medieval view of humanity discussed in class?


How does Machiavelli’s view differ from humanists of his day (e.g. Pico, Erasmus, More)?


Machiavelli also argues that to achieve a desirable ends, any method can be justified. Do you agree with his argument that morality should be removed from politics? (As you argue one side or the other, consider the implications of divorcing morality from political discourse.  The use of a contemporary example to illustrate your argument would not be out of place here.)