Spring Semester 2013 (MWF 1:30-2:35, SE 107)

Professor George Dameron (Department of History); Library 306 (x2318)

Office Hours:   Wednesdays, 10-12, and by appointment



Interior of the Abbey of Pontigny, France (Photo:  George Dameron) Copyright 2006



Humanities 101 is an interdisciplinary, 4-credit writing-intensive course that fulfills either the Literary Studies or the Historical Studies requirement of the Liberal Studies Curriculum.  It is a companion course to Humanities 102 (Modern Civilization).  Humanities 101 surveys issues and problems in pre-modern European intellectual and cultural development by focusing on some of the most influential, well written, and provocative texts from Antiquity and the Middle Ages (c. 500 BCE-1400 CE).



The purposes of this interdisciplinary course are as follows: 1) to improve and enhance critical thinking and writing, 2)  introduce students to some of the most significant and influential texts in European culture in the pre-modern (ancient and medieval) period, 3) explore selected intellectual and cultural issues associated with the ancient and medieval periods, 4)  stimulate student interest in the study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 5) explore and examine how Roman, Christian, Germanic, Celtic, and Islamic traditions interacted to produce a distinctive culture in Europe during the Middle Ages; 6) require students to produce a short research paper, 7) explore and compare the principal religious traditions of the period (Greco-Roman religion, Christianity, Islam), and 8)  fulfill one of two Liberal Studies Curriculum requirements.



Class meetings will meet three times a week and focus on the discussion of assigned texts (both in hard copy and online).   Lectures are infrequent,  as the course relies primarily on discussion.  Students will take turns bringing questions or comments to the class for discussion.  The course will rely on a eCollege Web site.  Accompanying the course is a list of study questions, which will be posted at the eCollege site. 



·         Attendance and participation in discussions (20% of final grade).  

·         Focus papers (10% of final grade) and quizzes (10%) will alternate every Friday.  All focus papers will be typed, one-page, and handed in during class.  The lowest quiz score will be dropped. 

·         One hour examination (10% of final grade) on February 13.  It will focus on objective and essay questions. 

·         A research paper on either the letters of Abelard and Heloise or the tales of Marie de France (20%), due April 5; 9-11 pages, excluding footnotes and bibliography.  Late papers may be penalized half a letter grade for every day they are late.  Students will choose from a list of topics (to be distributed shortly after the hour examination).

·         Final Exam on May 4 (30% of final grade).  It will also focus on objective and essay questions.

·         Except for compelling personal and medical reasons, no make-ups or late submissions will be allowed. 



Pending funding, the Humanities Program will sponsor a Humanities Program Concert Series at the College on March 25, 7:30 pm, McCarthy Recital Hall.  Students are required to attend.  The concert will feature medieval music, performed by the vocal ensemble, Blue Heron, and students will write a short (ungraded) response paper (focus paper) on the concert.



eCollege is web based course management system that we will use for this course.   Accessible through eCollege are the syllabus, announcements about upcoming events, any documents or texts, study questions, and any other communication that I deem important to the management of the course.  



At my personal web site students will find another online copy of the course syllabus.   My web site also includes links to some of the most important internet sites associated with Medieval Studies.  Sometime during the semester, the Medieval Studies Minor will launch its own Web site.



Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.  According to the Academic Integrity Policy of Saint Michael’s College plagiarism is the presentation of “another person's ideas as your own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source.  This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources."  The penalties for plagiarism can range from receiving a failing grade for the plagiarized assignment to receiving a failing grade in the course.  In some cases plagiarism can result in suspension or expulsion from the college. 



Students with documented learning difference should speak with me about any appropriate accommodations that are needed for the completion of assignments.   Special documentation of such needs should be obtained through the office of the Coordinator of Academic Compliance (Ms. Toni Messuri).




Humanities 101A






·         Einhard, Life of Charlemagne and The Wars of Charlemagne (Internet Medieval Sourcebook)

·         Ibn Ishaq (d. 773), Selections from the Life of Muhammed

·         The Qur’an (Surahs 1 and 47)

·         Tacitus, Annals (excerpt, Internet Ancient History Sourcebook)

·         The World of Dante (Dante, Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso)






Week One :  Introduction to Course; Ancient Philosophy (Plato)


·         January 14:  Orientation to course;  Sappho, “Invocation to Aphrodite” (online; in-class reading and discussion)

·         January 16 and 18 (quiz):  Plato, The Apology (in Last Days)


Week Two:  Ancient Philosophy; Roman Politics


·         January 21, 23:  Plato, Phaedo

·         January 25 (focus paper):  Res Gestae (Internet Ancient History Sourcebook); Tacitus, Annals (excerpt, Internet Ancient History Sourcebook)


Week Three:  Roman Literature


·         January 28:  Virgil, Aeneid, Book 1

·         January 30:  Virgil, Aeneid, Book 2, 3

·         February 1 (quiz):  Virgil, Books 4, 5


Week Four:  Roman Literature (Virgil)


·         February 4:  Virgil, Book 6

·         February 6:  Virgil, Book 7, 8

·         February 8 (focus paper):  Virgil, Books 9, 10


Week Five:  Roman Literature (Virgil)


·         February 11:  Virgil, Books 11, 12

·         **February 13:  Hour Examination**

·         February 15:  no class (February Break)


Week Six:  Early Christianity

·         February 18:  The Gospel of Saint Mathew (use a personal Bible or one in library)

·         February 22 (focus paper):  Augustine, Book 1







Week Seven:  Early Christianity

·         February 25:  Augustine, Books 2, 3

·         February 27:  Augustine, Books 4, 5

·         March 1 (quiz):  Augustine, Books 6, 7



Week Eight:  Early Christianity and Islam

·         March 4:  Augustine, Book 8, 9

·         March 6:  The Rule of Saint Benedict




Week Eight:  Early Islam

·         March 8 (focus paper):  Ibn Ishaq (d. 773), Selections from the Life of Muhammed; The Qur’an (Surahs 1 and 47)


Week Nine:  March Break

·         March 9-17


Week Ten:  Early Medieval Christianity

·         March 18 :  Einhard, Life of Charlemagne and The Wars of Charlemagne (Internet Medieval Sourcebook)

·         March 20:  The Life of Liutberga (Internet Medieval Sourcebook)




Week Ten and Eleven:  Self and Society in the Twelfth Century

·         March 22 (quiz):  Abelard, Historia calamitatum (Letter 1)


Week Eleven:  Self and Society in the Twelfth Century

·         March 25:  The Humanities Program Concert (Blue Heron); 7:30 McCarthy Recital Hall (no class at regular time)

·         March 27:  The Personal Letters:  Heloise (Letter 2) and Abelard (Letter 3)

·         March 28 (Thursday, 6 pm)/make up for April 3:  Heloise (Letter 4) and Abelard (Letter 5) (focus paper on concert due)

·         March 29:  no class (Easter Break)


Week Twelve:  Literature and Society in the Twelfth Century

·         April 1:  no class (Easter Break)

·         April 2 (make-up for April 5):  The Lais of Marie de France, lays 1-4

·         April 3 (no class; make-up was March 28)

·         April 5 (Research Paper Due at office):  no class (make-up was April 2)


Week Thirteen:  Literature and Society in the Twelfth Century

·         April 8:  The Lais of Marie de France, lays 5-12

·         April 10:  Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, 1-60

·         April 12 (quiz):  Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, 61-120


Week Fourteen:  Literature and Society in the Twelfth and Fourteenth Centuries

·         April 15:  Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, 121-180

·         April 17:  Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, 181-244

·         April 19 (focus paper):  Dante,  Inferno, cantos 1-8

o   Focus paper assignment using The World of Dante:

§  Read introductory remarks at Inferno site,

§  Pick one canto,

§  Locate that canto on one of the maps at the site (print, if possible, and attach to focus paper),

§  Choose two categories (people, places, creatures, structures, images, or music),

§  Pick one item from each of the two categories, and

§  Write the focus paper on the two items from the two categories, describing their roles or meaning in the canto you have chosen


Week Fifteen:  Literature and Society in the Fourteenth Century

·         April 22:  Dante, Inferno, cantos 9-16

·         April 24:  Dante, Inferno, cantos 17-24

·         April 26 (quiz):  Dante,  Inferno, cantos 25-33


Week Sixteen:  Conclusion to Course

·         April 29:  Dante,  Purgatorio, canto 32; Paradiso, canto 32 (both found at The World of Dante)

·         May 1:  Conclusion to Course (focus paper)



·         Humanities 101A (Saturday, May 4, 1:00-3:30)