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Jacqueline Jones, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

Spring 2009

HIS 309L • Western Civ in Modern Times-Plan II

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38740 -TBA


Course Description

In this course, we examine the central cultural and intellectual characteristics of the Western heritage after the Reformation and discuss their transformation up to the present. A chronological narrative of the history in question will be provided by the lecturer and the textbook, but a more significant portion of the course will be devoted to the examination of a number of central questions within Western society from the Reformation on through the present--via extensive readings and discussion, which will take up at least two thirds of every week of the course. In reading and discussion, we will attempt to formulate an understanding of "western civilization" and its central concerns and transformations. We will discuss such issues as the western transition to modernity via the construction of competing notions of authority and the subsequent relationship to emerging conceptions of political and personal liberty, market economies, contact with the non-West, and the problem of genocide. We will examine and explain the emergence of the central characteristics of modern Western society, including democracy, colonialism, capitalism, political sovereignty, and the nation-state.

There is an attendance requirement.

Grading Policy

Weekly quizzes @ 70% Final paper (12-15 pp) @ 30% Each quiz will include one multiple choice or essay question intended as a starting point for discussion. The two lowest scores will be be dropped. In the paper, you will be ask to formulate an argument that draws upon at least five primary sources in order to advance a claim about the nature of western civilization.


Selections from Levack, The West, Vol. II; Luther/Erasmus, Discourse on Free Will; Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain; Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders; Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; Diderot, Rameau's Nephew and Other Works; Edmund Burk, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man; Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon; John Stuart Mill, On Liberty; E.M. Forster, A Passage to India; Emile Zola, The Ladies' Paradise; Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents; Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World; Fred Abrahams et al., a Village Destroyed, May 14, 1999.


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