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Civilization of the West


Blocks 5 and 6: Tip Ragan

This two-block course fulfills the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement.

This course explores the history of Mediterranean and European peoples.  It poses a central historical question: how did the people of the past construct their individual and community identities?  We will also interrogate the concept of “European civilization” from a wide variety of perspectives, including political, social, cultural, religious, and gendered by critically examining historical texts, from ancient philosophical discourses to novels of the contemporary period.  Finally, we will engage in knowledge production through writing essays analyzing primary sources.

Class discussions as well as student writing and presentations will be centered on the texts and artifacts left behind by ancients, medievals, and moderns.   Films, readings, and classroom discussion will suggest the ways in which others of our times have understood prior European cultures, but emphasis here will be for this group—its students and teacher working together—to build a common sense of the Western past from the raw materials of historical literature and documents.

A two-block course with one instructor; one grade will be given for the course as a whole.


• This course serves as a gateway to the History major.

• Class will have some afternoon activities, such as visiting the College Press, Special Collections at Tutt Library, the Learning Commons, and so forth.