Rachel Fulton

Department of History

The University of Chicago


Autumn 2005




 “The Americans have no past….  They buy the pasts of other people and sell the images” (from Jean-Luc Godard’s Eloge de l’Amour)

--Opinion of French elites cited by Nicholas Fraser, “Le Divorce: Do Europe and America have irreconcilable differences?” (Harper’s, September 2002, p. 60)


“European history is of profound importance to Americans.  We may at times appear more mindful of Europe’s material indebtedness to us than of our spiritual indebtedness to Europe; we may in our pharisaic moods express our thanks that we are not even as these sinners of another hemisphere; but such moments cannot set us loose from the world’s history.  Whether we look at Europe genetically as the course of our civilization, or pragmatically as a large part of the world in which we live, we cannot ignore the vital connections between Europe and America, their histories ultimately but one.”

--Charles Homer Haskins, Presidential address to the American Historical Association on December 27, 1922 (American Historical Review 28 [January 1923]: 215)


“It is the general condition of the world that the diversity of forms, ideas, and principles struggle toward a certain unity, an ideal, perhaps never attained, but toward which the human species moves by liberty and work.  European civilization is thus the true image of the world: like the course of things in this world, it is neither narrow, nor exclusive, nor stationary.  For the first time, I believe, the character of particularity has disappeared from civilization; for the first time it has become as diverse, as rich, as laborious as the theater of the universe.  If it is permitted to say this, European civilization has entered into the eternal verity, into the plan of Providence; it moves along God’s ways.  Therein lies the rational principle of its superiority.”

--Franćois Pierre Guillaume Guizot, Histoire générale de la civilization en Europe depuis la chute de l’empire romain jusqu’ą la Révolution franćaise, 3rd ed. (Paris: Didier, 1840), p. 42 (trans. K.J. Weintraub, Visions of Culture [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966], pp. 89-90)



RB1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, ed. Timothy Horner (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1982)  [ISBN 0814612725]

Beowulf, trans. Burton Raffel (Harmondsworth: Signet Classics, 1999) [ISBN 0451527402]

The Song of Roland, trans. Dorothy Sayers (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978) [ISBN 0140440755]

Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, trans. A.T. Hatto (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980) [ISBN 0140443614]

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Paradise, trans. Mark Musa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980) [ISBN 0140444432]

Niccolė Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. David Wootton (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995) [ISBN 0872203166]

Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty, trans. W.A. Lambert and Harold J. Grimm (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1957) [ISBN 0800636074]

René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Donald Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1999) [ISBN 0872204200]



Readings in Medieval History, ed. Patrick Geary, 2nd ed. (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1997) [D113.R422 1998] = Geary

Readings in Western Civilization 4: Medieval Europe, eds. Julius Kirshner and Karl F. Morrison (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986) [CB245. U640 1986 vol. 4] =RWC 4

Readings in Western Civilization 5: The Renaissance, eds. Eric Cochrane and Julius Kirshner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986) [CB245.U640 1986 vol. 5] = RWC 5

Readings in Western Civilization 6: Early Modern Europe, eds. Eric Cochrane, Charles M. Gray and Mark A. Kishlansky (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986) [CB245.U640 1986 vol. 6] = RWC 6



1.     Careful study of the assigned readings.  As one of the main purposes of this course is to enable you to read different kinds of texts from different historical periods and to develop your confidence in approaching unfamiliar texts in the future, it is very important that you read each of the assigned selections as carefully as possible before coming to class each day.   As you read, keep in mind not only our larger questions about the nature and development of European civilization, but also what makes the particular text you are reading distinct.  It will help if you ask yourself the following questions: what does the author tell us about why he or she was writing?  Why was the author’s subject so important that he or she considered it worth writing about?  What does the author’s interest in the subject tell us about the historical circumstances in which he or she was writing? 


2.     Participation in class discussion and comments on the texts discussed (30% of your final grade).  To help you prepare for the discussions and to give me some indication of how you are reading, you will be required over the course of the quarter to post to the Chalk discussion board eight comments (about 300 words each) by 8am on the day we discuss the text.  NO EXCEPTIONS, so be sure to keep track of your postings over the course of the quarter.  (Hint: it’s best just to plan to do one a week.)  These comments should address questions that occurred to you in the course of your reading (e.g. about the problems you had understanding the text, about things that surprised you in the text, about issues or particulars about which you would like to know more having read the text), as well as answers to the general questions posed above concerning the author’s purpose and interest.  I will also at times suggest further questions specific to particular assignments depending on how our discussion is going. 


3.     Two textual analyses (5-6 pages, each 20% of your final grade).  These will each consist of a formal analysis of one of the texts (or sets of texts) that we will have already read and discussed in class.  The first will be due October 20.  The second will be due November 22. 


4.     Final exam (30% of your final grade).




September 27  Cultures and creeds


September 29  A little rule for beginners

Rule of St. Benedict (ed. Horner) [BX3004.E5 1982]


October 4   Monsters of God

Beowulf (trans. Raffel)


October 6  Fighting for God I

The Song of Roland (trans. Sayers), stanzas 1-92, 112-15, 127-37, 142-51, 171-81, 226-39, 258-62, 266-68, 277-91 [PQ1521.E5S3]


October 11  Reading in the Book of Experience I

Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs I, trans. Kilian Walsh, Cistercian Fathers Series 4 (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian Publications, 1971), sermons 1-4, 20 (pp. 1-24, 147-55)  [BS1485.B5 1971]


October 13  Fighting for God II

Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival (trans. Hatto), chapters 3-6, 9, 15-16 (pp. 68-175, 222-55, 366-411)


October 18  Defining Christendom I

Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (Geary, pp. 421-46)

[Eyewitness Account of the Fourth Lateran Council (RWC 4, pp. 369-76)]


October 20  Keeping count I

Enquźts of King Louis IX (Geary, pp. 672-82)

The Manor of Alwaton (1279) (RWC 4, pp. 82-84)


October 25  Contemplating the Rose

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso (trans. Musa), cantos 1-4, 11-12, 16, 19, 22-24, 28, 31-33


October 27  Defining Christendom II

Marsilius of Padua, Discourses, chaps. 3 and 13 (Geary, pp. 520-40)


November 1  Keeping count II

Diary of Gregorio Dati (Geary, pp. 787-801)

Alessandra Macinghi negli Strozzi, “Letters to Filippo degli Strozzi” (RWC 5, pp. 104-17)


November 3  Keeping count III

Niccolė Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. Wootton)


November 8  Defining Christendom III

Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (trans. Lambert, pp. 6-40) [BR332.D554 1967]


November 10  Defining Christendom IV

Council of Trent (RWC 5, pp. 386-409)

Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works, ed. George Ganss et al. (New York: Paulist Press, 1991), Introductory Explanations and First Week (pp. 121-45) [BX4700.L7A250 1991]


November 15  Defining Christendom V

Bartolomé de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians, trans. and ed. Stafford Poole (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1992), Preliminaries, Chaps. 1-5, 7-8, 10, 34-37 (pp. 7-53, 63-79, 85-92, 221-43)   [F1411.C4250 1992]

Michel de Montaigne, On Cannibals (RWC 5, pp. 285-96)


November 17  Keeping count IV

Jean Bodin, Six Books of a Commonweale (RWC 6, pp. 222-67)


November 22  Reading in the Book of Experience II

René Descartes, Discourse on Method (trans. Cress) [B1848.E5 C73 1998b]




November 29  Keeping count V

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Selected Letters, ed. Isobel Grundy (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997), Letters 12-16, 19, 48-51, 56-60, 102-3, 107-9, 111, 155, 170-71, 178-79, 193, 206, 213, 217-18, 239-42, 251, 261-62, 307-15 [PR3604.Z5A4 1997]


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