HIST 100: Western Civilization
Section 001: MWF 7:30-8:25 and Section 002: MWF 8:30-9:25
Robinson Hall Rm. B111
Prof. Nicholas Wolf
Office: Science and Technology II, rm. 8
Phone: (703) 993-4527
Introduction: Western Civilization—A Tale of Two Seas
Exchanges, encounters, and expansion will provide the basic themes of this course as we explore the
formation of western civilization from ancient to modern times.
To provide a framework for our
historical investigation, the semester will be divided into two units, each dedicated to one of the two
major bodies of water at the heart of events: the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
unit, covering roughly 1000 B.C.E. to 1400 C.E. focuses on the height of Mediterranean civilization.
Starting with the ancient near eastern peoples of the Levant, this unit will continue by exploring the
world of the Greeks and Romans and the rise of new ports and cities in the western Mediterranean.
first unit will culminate in a study of Italy near the end of the medieval period.
The second unit (c.a.
1400 C.E. to present) will trace the gradual shift of western history away from the Mediterranean and
toward the Atlantic as new locations of power—first Spain and Portugal and later England, France, and
the Netherlands—began to project their influence around the world.
The rise of the Atlantic system, the
impact of the Enlightenment, nineteenth-century imperialism and industrialization, and finally, select
major events of the twentieth century will occupy the remainder of this unit.
In addition, a portion of the second unit dedicated specifically to the French Revolution, one of the most
important events influencing the Atlantic region (as well as world history), will receive extra attention
this semester through a one-day symposium of lectures and presentations conducted by history
: Students will leave this course with a better understanding of the major ideas and
events that have shaped the world they live in today.
These include the phenomenon of colonization, the
evolving nature of political power, and changing cultural trends in societies, households, roles of men
and women, and notions of citizenship.
The interaction between civilizations and the ways in which
those historical encounters helped define each respective society will receive particularly close attention.
In addition, students will work to improve their overall skills in written communication, research,