History 2001 Early Medieval Europe [0.5 credit] Fall Term
Professor W. R. Laird

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune

The history of Europe in the early Middle Ages, AD 300-1050. (Field a)
Lectures two hours a week.
Discussion groups one hour a week.

This course traces the origins of European civilisation from Constantine and the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the rise of the feudal kingdoms in the barbarian West. Topics in the course include the rise of Christianity, the idea of Christendom, the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Byzantium, the origin and conquests of Islam, the barbarian kingdoms, the Two Swords, monasticism, the Carolingian Empire, the Carolingian Renaissance, the invasions of the tenth century, and the rise of the feudal kingdoms. In this course, students will come to know the principal events of the early Middle Ages, to understand their causes and results, and to appreciate their contributions to the later Middle Ages.

This course is designed for second-year history students with a special interest in the Middle Ages. Students will be assumed to have successfully completed a first-year history course, preferably HIST 1001 The Making of Europe (formerly Western Civilization).

Readings for each lecture will be assigned from a textbook and will include historical documents.

Lectures will guide students to a knowledge and an understanding of the readings assigned for each day. Students must attend all lectures, having read beforehand all of the readings assigned for that day from the textbook and the documents. Students who attend fewer than 19 complete lectures will receive F on the course. Knowledge and understanding of the readings and lectures will be assessed in daily written responses worth a total of 40% of the final grade.

Discussion groups will prepare students to write the assignments, which will be written reports on historical documents. Students must attend one discussion group each week to discuss the documents assigned for that week. Students who attend fewer than 9 discussion groups will receive F on the course. At each discussion group, students will be asked for a written response to a question on the document under discussion; the grades on these written responses will contribute to the 40%.

The required text will be Christopher Dawson, The Making of Europe (1932; Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), supplemented with historical documents.

Grades for the course will be based on daily written responses in lectures and discussion groups (40%), and three written assignments (60%). Correct English and proper form and style on the written assignments are required.

This is a classroom course: no lecture notes will be available electronically. No electronic devices are permitted in the classroom; notes may be taken only with pen and paper.

Comments from previous students:

“I loved this course for many reasons. The mandatory attendance made me attend almost all classes, and the daily question made me do the reading. Without these two things, I would have been less motivated to do so. Also, the weighting of the assignments allows improvements to really show on the final grade. Lectures were always great, the music at the beginning of the class was fun, and the lectures themselves were entertaining. Overall, the course was fantastic and I feel as though I learned a lot.”

“I have found that the attendance requirements helped to force students to attend lectures that they otherwise may not have. I have also found the in-class responses to be superior to an exam, as they force the student to keep up with the material discussed in class, as well as relieve some pressure during the examination period. The discussion groups were very helpful in understanding the documents, as well as being helpful for our reports. I found that the reports were structured in such a way that really made us understand the document. I also found the reports to have been marked fairly with a very clear rubric. Overall, I have really enjoyed the class.”