History 101: Western Civilization Since 1700

Course Description

This is a survey of European history from c. 1700 to the present.  Its aim is to introduce students to a broad variety of themes in the evolution of Western society — from the political and intellectual currents of the Enlightenment to the travails of industrialization, from the apogee of Europe’s power in the late 19th century to the rise of a global civilization in the late 20th century.  The underlying spirit of the course will be interdisciplinary — focusing on cultural and artistic currents, political and socioeconomic phenomena, as well as military and colonial developments.


* Edward Burns, et. al., Western Civilizations, 13th ed., vol. 2

* John L. Beatty and Oliver A. Johnson, eds., Heritage of Western Civilization, volume 2, eighth edition

* Voltaire, L’Ingénu

* Charles Dickens, Hard Times

* Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101

* Class Pack (Available from Campus Copy in Rand Hall)

* Central Library Reserve List

All of these books are available at the University Bookstore, and have been placed on 2-hour reserve at the Central Library.

Reading Assignments

Each week’s assigned readings should be finished before the Monday lecture for that week.  In my lectures, I will assume knowledge of the basic facts and ideas set forth in the weekly readings.

Written Assignments

Students will write three short essays (4 to 5 pages each, typed double-spaced) on subjects to be assigned.  Papers will be due at the beginning of my lecture, on the dates listed below.  Late papers will be penalized at the rate of 5% per day.

1. Voltaire: Wednesday, Feb. 3

2. Dickens/Marx: Wednesday, March 3

3. Browning: Wednesday, April 14

Please note: If you are handing in your paper a few minutes late, please DO NOT rush into class, panting, after the lecture has begun.  Your paper will still be accepted as “on time” if you wait outside the classroom until the lecture is over.

Discussion Sections

The weekly section meetings offer students an opportunity to discuss with each other and with the teaching fellows some of the major issues raised in the lectures and readings.  Discussions will focus on each week’s reading assignment, taking as their point of departure the primary-source documents contained in the Beatty/Johnson volume or the readings on reserve in the Library.  Needless to say, students will be expected to have completed each week’s reading before the discussion section meets.

Since these section meetings are considered an essential part of the course, grades will be given for participation in discussions.  Attendance at these meetings is required, and five unexcused absences will result in failure of the course.

Each discussion section will begin with a five-minute quiz on the assigned readings for that week.  This quiz will be worth 30% of that day’s discussion grade; the remaining 70% of that day’s grade will be determined by your class participation.  If you miss a discussion section, you may not make up the quiz at a later date.  At the end of the semester, your two lowest discussion grades will be canceled; your total discussion grade will be the average of the remaining discussion grades.  Your total discussion grade will be worth 25% of your final grade in the course.

Examinations, Grading, and Honor Code

A ten-minute map quiz will be held in your discussion section for Week 2 of the course.  I will hold a one-hour midterm in class on Wednesday, Feb. 17.  The final examination will cover the entire course; I will not hold an alternate final exam.

Semester grades will be determined according to the following percentages:

* map quiz, 4%

* section participation (discussion grade), 25%

* midterm, 11%

* final, 20%

* paper #1, 11%

* paper #2, 14%

* paper #3, 15%

All assignments and examinations for this course will be governed by Vanderbilt’s honor code.  Please read carefully the description of the honor code in the student handbook and the section on plagiarism in the class pack for this course.  If you have any questions about this very important matter, please come and discuss them with me.

Grade Enhancement Option

Students in this class are allowed the opportunity to try to improve the grade they got on one of their three papers, by submitting two reviews of films selected from a list compiled by Prof. Bess.

The maximum amount which these two reviews can improve your grade will be 10 points.  For example, a student who gets an 80 (B-) on one of his or her papers can submit two film reviews, and potentially increase his or her credit for that paper to a 90 (A-).  The reviews must be typed, double-spaced, and must be no less than two pages long each; they are graded according to the same criteria as your regular papers.  Two reviews must be submitted (one is not enough).

The deadline for handing in these reviews will be the beginning of class on Wednesday, April 21.  Details of this option, along with a list of acceptable films, are set forth in your class pack.

Course Schedule

Week 1

* Wed., Jan. 13 — Introduction and Overview

Read text (Burns), chs. 16-17; start reading L’Ingénu

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Bacon, Descartes, Galilei

Week 2

* Mon., Jan. 18 — Eighteenth-century society: the European Heritage

Read text, ch. 18; continue L’Ingénu; study for map quiz

* Wed. — The Age of Reason

* Section — Map Quiz; Discuss Beatty, sections on Hobbes, Newton, Condorcet, Rousseau

Week 3

* Mon., Jan. 25 — The Enlightenment in Art and Philosophy

Read text, ch. 19; finish L’Ingénu

* Wed. — The French Revolution

* Section — Discuss L’Ingénu; Beatty, sections on Locke, Smith, Two Revolutionary Declarations

Week 4

* Mon., Feb. 1 — From the Revolution to the Napoleonic Empire

Read text, ch. 22; start reading Dickens

* Wed. — The Restoration and the Risorgimento

*********Voltaire essay due, at beginning of lecture, Wed., February 3

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Burke, Mazzini

Week 5

* Mon., Feb. 8 — The Industrial Revolution

Read text, chs. 20-21, pp. 776-783; continue Dickens

* Wed. — Romanticism

* Section — Discuss Beatty, section on Romanticism, Malthus, The Sadler Report

Week 6

* Mon., Feb. 15 — The Revolutions of 1848

Finish Dickens

* Wed., Feb. 17 — Midterm

* Section — Discuss Dickens

Week 7

* Mon., Feb. 22 — Struggles of the Dispossessed: Workers, Women, Blacks

Read text, ch. 23

* Wed. — Nation-building

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Marx/Engels, Mill

Week 8

* Mon., March 1 — Freud-Nietzsche-Darwin-Einstein

Read text, chs. 24-25; start reading Browning

* Wed. — Modernism in the Arts

*********Dickens/Marx essay due, at beginning of lecture, Wed., March 3

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud

Week 9 SPRING BREAK (March 6-14)

Week 10

* Mon., March 15 — Empire-building

Read text, ch. 26-27; continue Browning

* Wed. — World War I: An Analysis

* Section — Discuss Reserve List excerpts by Orwell, Lessing, plus Beatty sections on Fanon, Beveridge

Week 11

* Mon., March 22 — World War I: The Experience of Total War

Continue Browning

* Wed. — The Russian Revolution and Stalinism

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Bernstein, Lenin, Russell, Alma-Ata

Week 12

* Mon., March 29 — The Rise of Fascism

Read text, ch. 28; finish Browning

* Wed. — The Depression and the 1930s

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on Sumner, Childs, Dewey, Hitler

Week 13

* Mon., April 5 — World War II

Read text, ch. 29

* Wed. — The Holocaust (Film: Night and Fog)

* Section — Discuss Night and Fog; Beatty, sections on United Nations, League of Nations

Week 14

* Mon., Apr. 12 — The Cold War

Read text, chs. 30-31

* Wed. — Decolonization

********Browning essay due, at beginning of lecture, Wednesday, April 14

* Section — Discuss Browning

Week 15

* Mon., Apr. 19 — Ecological Politics: A Revolution Against the Industrial Revolution?

Read text, ch. 32

* Wed. — The Revolutions of 1989

********Last day to hand in film reviews for grade-enhancement option: Wed., April 21

* Section — Discuss Beatty, sections on De Beauvoir, Whitehead, Atomic Age

Week 16

* Mon., Apr. 26 — Overview: Long-term Visions for Western Civilization