Marymount University

  2807 North Glebe Road  Arlington, Virginia  22207-4299      (703) 284-1560        FAX (703) 284-3859


                School  of

Arts and Sciences



 Course Number

HU 202

Course Title

Western Tradition II

 Fall Semester


 Spring Semester


Summer Semester




Name of Instructor

William Miller


Meeting Day, Time, and Room Number

Tuesdays-Fridays, 12:15-1:30, Gailhac G110


Final Exam Day, Time, and Room Number

The final exam will be given in our regular classroom at the time listed in the University Final Exam calendar: Tuesday, May 5th, 2:00pm.


Office Hours, Location, Phone

Tuesdays and Fridays 2:00pm to 4:00pm; Wednesdays 3:00 to 4:00pm & by appointment. My office in Ireton G107, my telephone number is 703 284 1687, but always email ahead of time!

 E-mail & Website (Email is the best way to reach me!)

 (All announcements and assignments are posted here, not on Blackboard.)




Academic Integrity

By accepting this syllabus, you pledge to uphold the principles of Academic Integrity expressed by the Marymount University Community. You agree to observe these principles yourself and to defend them against abuse by others.

Special Needs and Accommodations

Please advise the instructor of any special problems or needs at the beginning of the semester.  If you seek accommodation based on disabilities, you should provide a Faculty Contact Sheet obtained through the Office of Student Access Services, located in Rowley Hall.

Access to Student Work

Copies of your work in this course including copies of any submitted papers and your portfolios may be kept on file for institutional research, assessment and accreditation purposes. All work used for these purposes will be submitted anonymously. 

Student Copyright Authorization

For the benefit of current and future students, work in this course may be used for educational critique, demonstrations, samples, presentations, and verification.  Outside of these uses, work shall not be sold, copied, broadcast, or distributed for profit without student consent. 

University Policy on Snow Closings

Snow closings are generally announced on area radio stations. For bulletins concerning Marymount snow or weather closings, call (703) 526-6888. Unless otherwise advised by radio announcement or by official bulletins on the number listed above, students are expected to report for class as near normal time as possible on days when weather conditions are adverse. Decisions as to snow closing or delayed opening are not generally made before 5:00 AM of the working day. Students are expected to attend class if the University is not officially closed. 


1.    BROAD PURPOSE OF COURSE   (Include the catalog description)


This is the second half of an interdisciplinary humanities survey. It will focus on the seminal works (literary and artistic), figures, and ideas of Western Civilization, from the Reformation to the end of the Cold War. In particular, it will examine the works, historical figures, and ideas that caused and reflected the development of the modern national states in Europe.



2.    COURSE OBJECTIVES  (For core courses, include writing, critical reasoning, and information literacy as appropriate)

      Upon successful completion of this course students will be expected to:

1.      be familiar with the conventional periodization of Western history: the ancient, medieval, and modern eras;

2.      demonstrate an understanding of the essential characteristics of this High Middle Ages;

3.      demonstrate an understanding of selected works of art, literature, philosophy, and theology of the Renaissance and following periods;

4.      demonstrate a basic understanding of the concept of “modernity” as it applies to the period of Western culture beginning in the Sixteenth Century;

5.      demonstrate familiarity with Western cultural developments since the modern era began;

6.      demonstrate a basic ability to read texts in political theory with critical understanding—i.e., to grasp the author's main points, to identify his supporting arguments and rationales, and to offer cogent internal and external criticism of the readings; and,

7.      engage in the practice of writing and critical reasoning by composing well organized, acceptably written, logically argued essays and papers on issues of political theory.


3.    TEACHING METHOD   (lecture, laboratory, audio-visual, clinical experience, discussion, seminar, tutorial)

The course will consist primarily of guided discussions of the readings and secondarily of lectures and background information by the instructor.


4.    GRADING POLICY  (i.e., number of graded assignments, weight given to each)


The final grade is based on a possible total of 100 points that includes grades for class assignments (which includes answering questions in class and participating in class discussions) and quizzes, two short graded papers, two mid-term essay exams, and a final essay exam, as follows:


20% = Two one-page papers (each is worth 10%)


15% = Lower mid-term exam


20% = Higher mid-term exam


30% = Final exam


15% = Class assignments, quizzes, constructive contributions to class discussions.


The usual scale of 90-100%=A, 80-89%=B, 70-79%=C, 60-69%=D, and 59% and below=F will be used for all graded work.


The exams and the papers are all based on the primary readings of the course: not on the class lectures, which are intended to help you understand the readings and not to substitute for the readings. No grade of "I" or "Incomplete" will be given. If possible, papers and exams will be graded and returned within two weeks. No late papers will be accepted. Papers emailed to me by the due date and time will be accepted as long as you give me a hard copy by the next class. Students must retain a copy of each paper on their hard drive, thumb drive, or the cloud. 




Attendance: Beginning with the second week of classes, students are allowed a total of nine absences, excused and/or unexcused. Students who miss ten classes or more will receive an “F” in the course.    


Each unexcused absence beyond three—up to the absolute limit of nine—will result in a lowering of the final grade by one percentage point. To be excused, an absence must be explained to and approved by me, preferably before it occurs. Excused absences are typically those that are documented, such as medical-, legal-, or job-related excuses. Note: Occasionally coming to class late—even real late once or twice—is not considered an absence. Coming to class without hard copies of the text for the day, leaving class after taking an announced quiz without the prior permission of the instructor, or spending time on internet sources unrelated to class, however, shall be considered unexcused absences.


Merely informing me ahead of time that you will be absent from class does not mean I excuse the absence, though I appreciate your courtesy. I will not excuse your absence because you are simply not feeling well or because you choose to do something worthwhile other than come to class even if you inform me ahead of time. If you are coughing and sneezing and coming down with a cold or the flu, and you don't want to spread your virus to your classmates, your fellow students and I salute you! Staying home may be the right thing to do, but it is not an excused absence. You all get three unexcused absences to use as you see fit, and it is your decision to use them to stay home when you don't feel well or want to attend some other event or need to prepare for another class instead of going to my class. Use them for good reasons: that's what they are for.


The limit of nine total absences recognizes that excessive excused absences may also be a problem. You should discuss such situations with me well before the last month of the semester. This is not a distance learning class. Any absence prevents you from participating in the class, but if your job or an illness keeps you away from class, it will significantly affect the class participation component of your grade and may be a good reason to drop the course and take it another time. All of us find ourselves in these situations from time to time and have to deal with them appropriately. You also have an obligation to report this to a University office (see the section on “Absenteeism in the 2014-2015 University Catalogue).


When in doubt about any of these policies, please come and talk to me. They have been formulated with our substantial commuter and working student population in mind and are intended to be fair to everyone. You should also review the University's policies on “Absenteeism” in the 2014-2015 University Catalogue.


Make-up Exams: The same basic rules about excused absences apply to taking mid-terms. My policy of giving makeup exams on the same day as the final does NOT mean that you may choose to take the mid-term exam on that day rather than on the regularly scheduled day: it is not an alternative test date. To be eligible for a makeup, you must qualify for an excused absence, and this you should do a reasonable time before the day of the mid-term, if that is at all possible. You may be excused from taking a mid-term if you are certifiably sick or your job prevents you from attending class or you have a serious family or personal or employment emergency on the day of the test. If one of these applies and I am informed in a reasonable time before the exam and you have written documentation to support your request, you may take the exam on the same day as the final exam. If none of these reasons apply, you may not take the exam at another time, and you will get a zero for the exam. If you are late for the exam because of events outside of your control, let me know immediately or as soon as possible that day, and I will let you take the exam later that same day if possible.


5.    CLASS SCHEDULE   (List topics likely to be covered with approximate dates of presentation. Snow, wind, hail, power outages, and so on may make adjustments necessary)


This schedule is approximate and subject to changes because of weather and other factors: see the link to "Western Tradition II (Spring 2015)" in the Weekly Assignments section of the webpage before each class for an updated schedule and specific assignments. 


Week I (1/13-16): Introduction to the course; Palmer and Colton “The Rise of Europe.”

Week II (1/20-23):  Palmer and Colton; Bobbitt on the development of the modern state.

Week III (1/27-30): Readings from the High Middle Ages

      Week IV (2/3-6): Readings from the Renaissance; art of the High Middle Ages and Renaissance (Michael Wood)


February 6 - Last day to withdraw from a class without academic record!


Week V (2/10-13): The Early Modern Period.

Week VI (2/17-20):  The Early Modern Period. First Mid-term Exam.

Week VII (2/24-27): The Early Modern Period.

Week VIII (3/3-6): The Seventeenth Century.


Spring Break!


Week IX (3/17-20): The Enlightenment.


March 20 - Last day to withdraw from a class with a grade of W!


Week X (3/24-27): The Age of Science.


Modern Ideologies


Week XI (3/31): Second Mid-term Exam.

Week XII (4/7-10): The Age of Nationalism.

Week XIII (4/14-17): The Age of Ideology.

Week XIV (4/21-24): The Cold War.

      Week XV (4/28-5/1): The contemporary West.


The final exam will be given only at the date and time prescribed by the University Final Exam Schedule: Tuesday, May 5th, at 2:00pm. Also, any permitted make-ups of mid-term exams will take place on the 5th. Make your travel plans accordingly!




Though not required, it is highly recommended that you obtain a copy of any edition of R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton’s A History of the Modern World. Earlier editions were in one volume; later editions were published in two volumes, and we will only need volume one (until 1815).


We shall also use materials from Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History. New York: Anchor, 2002.


We will be using Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook extensively for the readings in the course, and the course will essentially consist of the reading of primary sources.


For art history, we will use the Annenberg Art of the Western World, narrated by Michael Wood.


As a general framework for the course, Eugen Weber’s lectures on The Western Traditon, also an Annenberg series, will be useful.




The following books provide the framework for the first semester of this sequence, HU 201, which is assumed in the early materials of the present course, HU 202.


Christopher Dawson. Religion and the Rise of Western Culture. New York: Image Books, 1950.


________. The Making of Europe. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1932, 2002.


________. The Formation of Christendom. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1965.


________. The Dividing of Christendom. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1965.



1.   Turn your cell phone ringer off during the class. If you are expecting an important call, put your phone on “Vibrate,” sit near the door, and, when the call comes, answer it outside the classroom.

2.   It follows from the foregoing rule, but it must be separately stated: no talking and no texting on cell phones during class. If you do not follow this rule, I will publicly ask you to leave the room for the remainder of the class and will do my best to have you removed from the course for the rest of the semester.

3.   No open lap-top or other computers are allowed in class without my prior permission. Devices such as smart phones, tablets, Ipads, Kindles, Kobos, and Nooks that lie flat on the desk and on to which the readings can be loaded are permitted if approved by me, but hard copies of the readings are better. You can mark them up and take notes on them in class.

4.   Be sure to check your Marymount email address regularly! This is Marymount’s and my principal way of contacting you with important information. Perhaps you rely mostly on Yahoo, gmail, or some other provider, but check your mail daily to make sure you do not miss school information.

5.   Save copies of all of your papers and written assignments until at least a week after the end of the semester.


These rules are necessary to foster a suitable learning environment in the classroom during class. There are enough distractions with lawnmowers, air conditioners, and other outside forces to combat during lectures and discussions without these controllable distractions within the room.