CIVILIZATION

IN THE WEST:

CULTURE

AND

NATURE

History 105

Blocks 3-4

2013-14

fulfilling the Critical Perspectives: West in Time requirement

 

and the entry levels of the History, History-Political Science, History-Philosophy, and Classics-History-Politics majors

                                                   from a fourteenth-century British Library manuscript, a knight battling a snail

   

 

Instructor:  

Carol Neel, Department of History, Palmer 233

              Phone 389-6527, e-mail cneel@coloradocollege.edu

              Office hours 8:45-9:30 daily and by appointment

 

 

Course description and requirements 

During these two blocks, students will take up the lens of humankind's relationship with the natural world in order to begin a thoughtful encounter with classical Mediterranean, medieval Europena, and modern global civilizations.  This course will ask how people's and cultures' relationship with the cosmos, the landscrape, and with other living things has informed their social relations, political order, and ideational constructs.  Classroom discussion will address primary texts and images, works by people of the past, in cultural context, with emphasis on the way the historical moments they represent addressed nature and human nature.  Secondary readings will introduce students to critical perspectives on the relationship between the past and present of perspectives on the natural worlds.

During Block 3, students will complete one two-page response paper and one six- to eight- page critical essay, a group study for combined oral and written presentation, and an oral group final based on individually prepared essays.  During Block 4, participants will craft eight- to ten-page individual research papers improved by group critique and a take-home essay exam on the material of both blocks. Class discussion will be an important element in the course throughout, and students excused from class for illness or other prearranged circumstances will prepare two-page summaries of the readings assigned for those sessions.  Assessment will be based one half on discussion contribution/collaborative projects and one half on individual written submissions.  Papers will be turned in as hard copies to the instructor's "in" box in the History suite by the stated deadlines.  All work submitted must be prepared according to the Colorado College Honor Code and acknowledge that compliance in writing.

 

Course materials

The following books, listed here in order of their appearance in the syllabus, are available for purchase in the Colorado College Bookstore.  Some of the texts represented in these editions are available in other translations, but it will be helpful if class members use the same translations so that we can refer to specific pages and passages during our discussions.  If students avail themselves of discounted prices from internet merchants, they should be careful to find the editions listed:

 

The following further works and excerpts will be available on the course’s PROWL website:  

 

The following website will be a resource for group research:

Aberdeen Bestiary (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/)

 

The following films will be subjects for common discussion; copies for review will be available from the instructor:

Michael Apted, dir. Nell (2004).

Tom Moore and Norah Twomey, dirs. The Secret of Kells (2009).

margareth von Trotta, dir.  Vision (2010).

François Truffaut, dir.  The Wild Child (1970).

Jon Amiel, dir.  Creation (2009).

 

Schedule of readings, meetings, written work and presentations

Discussion session will regularly be at 9:30 in Palmer 233, unless otherwise noted.  Special scheduling is as noted below in bold face and deadlines for written assignments in bolded italics..

 

BLOCK 3

Week 1 (October 28)--History, nature, and natural history

Monday

Introduction 9:00 am

Second 1:00 pm meeting

THINKING ABOUT NATURE AND CIVILIZATION

Screening: Nell

 
Tuesday

ENVISIONING NATURE AT THE MILLENIUM

Reading: Bryson 3-206
Wednesday YOU, NELL, AND BILL BRYSON Reading:Bryson 207-394

Thursday

LEAVING THE WOODS FOR THE WALLS

Two-page response paper due 2:00pm

Reading:Hesiod
Friday THE ROMANS AND THE BEASTS OUTSIDE THE CITY Reading: Pliny 3-73

Week 2 (November 4)--Ancient knwoledge and a living cosmos

Monday

EMPIRE, MORAL CHARACTER, AND HUMAN NATURE

Reading: Pliny 74-127
Tuesday THE STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE IN LATE ANTIQUITY Reading: Boethius 3-57
Wednesday PROVIDENCE AND FATE Reading: Boethius 58-93

Thursday

No class meeting

Individual meetings with instructor Development of individual paper topics 
Friday

Screening: The Secret of Kells

Reading: Aberdeen Bestiary

Week 3 (November 11)--The Christian world view

Monday

HUMANKIND AND COSMIC HISTORY

Reading: Hildegard 3-34,  89-105

Tuesday

Second 1:00 pm meeting

Special Collections visit (Tutt Library)

Screening: Vision

Group project workshops
Wednesday THE HUMAN PERSON AS MIRROR OF THE WORLD Reading: Hildegard 106-160

Thursday

Bestiary project presentations Development of bestiary papers 
Friday

THE RENAISSANCE OUTDOORS

Group bestiary papers due in class

Reading: Petrarch, Greenblatt 14-134

 

Week 4 (November 17)--The return to ancient understandings

Monday

HISTORY, NATURE, AND ACCIDENT

Six- to eight-page individual papers due in class

Reading: Greenblatt 135-266
Tuesday Review discussion

Study groups

Wednesday Group take-home/oral exams  

 

BLOCK 4

Week 1 (November 25)--Scientific Revolution and Being in Nature

Monday

THE SMALLEST THINGS

AND THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES

Reading: Kepler (entire English text), reprise of Greenblatt

Tuesday

THE SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSE

Reading: Galileo 45-84, 109-145
Wednesday MOTION ON HEAVEN AND EARTH Reading: Galileo 190-250

Thursday

THANKSGIVING  
Friday THANKSGIVING CONTINUED  

Week 2 (December 2)--Reception of a Newer World

Monday

PRINTED BOOKS AND THE BOOK OF NATURE

Reading: Johns

Tuesday

Second 1 pm meeting

A CIRCLE OF BOOKS AND THE NATURE OF THE BOOK

Library session with Mimi Wheatwind--TLC 2

Reading: Diderot 33-126
Wednesday

ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE NATURE OF NATURE

Screening: Wild Child

Reading: Diderot 165-234

Thursday

No class meeting

Individual meetings with instructor

Paper prospectus due 2:00 pm

Development of paper topics 
Friday NATURAL FITNESS Reading: Darwin 3-7, 60-127

Week 3 (December 9)--Animals and mankind

Monday

Individual research presentations

Pecha kucha

Research presentation preparation

Tuesday

Class starting 8:30 am

EVOLUTION AND THE SWERVE

Screening: Creation

Reading: Darwin 430-507

Wednesday

Research paper workshops

Peer criticism of paper drafts

Thursday

Zoo field trip

Readings: Group zoo history materials
Friday

NATURE IN CAPTIVITY

Zoo history presentations

Preparation of group zoo history discussions

Week 4 (December 16)--Mankind as animals

Monday NATURE, HUMAN NATURE, AND THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Reading: Freud (entire text)

Tuesday

SCIENCE, ECOLOGY, AND HISTORY

Individual review and completion of research paper drafts

Wednesday

Class breakfast 9:30 am

at 2404 Constellation

Review discussion

Paper drafts due in class

Study groups
Thursday Take-home final due noon Final revision of research papers
Friday Final paper drafts due noon  

 

 

 

 

ELECTRONIC RESOURCES

This course's research tools sessions will introduce students to many web-based collections useful for the preparation of assignments and further exploration.  It will also urge critical techniques for the assessment of WWW sites.  The following solid websites are a beginning to useful web research:

for Mediterranean antiquity--Perseus, at Tufts

for the European Middle Ages--the Labyrinth, at Georgetown

for an individual bestiary--the Aberdeen Bestiary

for the modern world--the Modern History Sourcebook, at Fordham

 

 

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The images at the head of this syllabus are from a twelfth-century manuscript bestiary preserved in Oxford at the Bodleian Library and from Albrecht Duerer's famous

printed image of the rhinoceros, of which many copies survive.