Western Civilization after 1500

Dr. Joseph F. Byrnes

528 Life Sciences West, 744-8191 

Texts: Kegan, Donald, Steven Ozment, Frank M. Turner.  The Western Heritage: Since 1300.  Ninth Edition.  New York: Prentice-Hall, 2007        

OSU Department of History, Reading Yesterday, Writing Today: A Student Guide to the Study of History at Oklahoma State University (2006)

            Penguin Custom Editions: The Western World.

Course Objectives:

1. To develop an understanding of the principal ideas and beliefs that have shaped Western culture since 1500.

2.  To achieve mastery of the appropriate, relevant historical data.

3.  To develop the fundamental skills of reading and comprehension necessary to interpret the data.

4.  (A full set of directions/reflections on the study of History can be found in Reading Yesterday, Writing Today, chapters 1 and 2).


Directives for class participation:

1.  On principle, everyone is expected to actively participate in the class and to respond when reflective response is invited.

2.  Clear, complete, and refined note-taking is required.  Notes will be examined by the instructor at least once during the term.  Notes will not be evaluated for a mark, but on occasion corrective measures will be insisted upon. 

3.  Readings, primary sources contained in the Custom Editions text prepared for this class, are assigned for class discussion (on Thursday of the week assigned).  The assignment includes (1) a balanced summary of the reading, (2) vital supplementary information for interpreting the reading from the textbook and from one appropriate Internet source (criteria for use of Internet will be discussed at the beginning of the semester), and finally (3) a record of the class discussion of the reading.  The student’s written preparation for this discussion, and record of the discussion, will be submitted at the end of the class.  There will major deductions from the mark for late submissions, and an outline will not be considered “on time” if a student is not present for classroom discussion.   Note in particular chapters 6 and 7 (sections IV, V, and VI) of Reading Yesterday, Writing Today for advice on refining the work to be submitted.

Schedule of Class Sessions and Readings:  week of--

Jan. 8             

The Age of Reformation

Jan. 15            

The Age of Religious Wars

Erasmus: The Unity of Classical and Christian Learning

Jan. 22            

England and France in the Seventeenth Century

James I: The Divine Right of Kings

Jan. 29            

New Directions in Science and Thought in the

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Galileo Galilei: Science and Scripture                       

Feb. 5              

TEST (Feb. 6)

Successful and Unsuccessful Paths to Power (1686-1740)

Society and Economy Under the Old Regime in the Eighteenth Century

Empire, War, and Colonial Rebellion

Elaudah Equiano: Horrors of a Slave Ship

Feb. 12              

The Age of Enlightenment:  Eighteenth-Century Thought

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Slaves in Faith

Feb. 19              

The French Revolution

Edmund Burke: Monarchy and Democracy

Feb. 26              

The Age of Napoleon and the Triumph of Romanticism

Mar. 5                  

Restoration, Reaction, and Reform (1815-1832)

The Quadruple Alliance         

Heinrich von Sybel: Carlsbad Decrees 

Mar. 12                  

Economic Advance and Social Unrest (1830-1850)

TEST (Mar. 15)           

Mar. 26                  

The Age of Nation-States

The term paper project begins with a presentation of topics and format for a paper on any aspect of politics, culture, or the economy in a modern European nation.  Students choose their topics in consultation with the professor and prepare a paper following the guidelines of the History Department booklet, Reading Yesterday, Writing Today, especially chapters 8 and 9.  Use of the OSU library resources for bibliographical access will be demonstrated in class. An outline and bibliography is due one week after mid-term, a first version after three weeks, and a corrected version at the end of five weeks.

Giuseppi Mazzini: Europe: Its Condition and Its Prospects [read only]           

Apr. 2                          

The Building of European Supremacy (1860-1914): Society and Politics to World War I

Term paper outline and bibliography due April 4

Apr. 9                          

The Birth of Modern European Thought

Charles Darwin: Natural Selection [Read only]

Apr. 16                        

Imperialism, Alliances, and War

Weimar Republic/Rise of Mussolini

First version of term paper due April 18

Apr. 23                        

German and Russian Totalitarianism

The New Europe

Apr. 30                        

FINAL TEST (May 1, 2:00-3:30)

Final version of term paper due the day of the exam