Dr. George Dameron (Professor of History)

Office:  Library 306.  Phone: x2318

Office Hours: Monday, 2-4; Wednesday 2:30-3:30; also by appointment/Email:  gdameron@smcvt.edu

Webpage:  http://academics.smcvt.edu/gdameron

Photo:  Monastery on Iona/George Dameron (copyright 2007)


History 109 (Europe in the Early Middle Ages) is an introductory, 3-credit course that surveys the history of Europe (within a global context) from the end of the Roman Empire to the economic expansion of the eleventh century.


PURPOSES AND GOALS.  The primary goals of the course are the following:  1) to examine and understand some of the origins of modern society by providing a broad and interdisciplinary survey of the history of Europe between 200 and 1000 (Late Antiquity, 200-600; Early Middle Ages, 600-1000); 2) to introduce students to the study of history, and, in particular, to the critical study of primary sources; 3) to familiarize students with the principal issues and debates among scholars that are associated with the study of the Early Middle Ages; 4) to stimulate student interest in the study of Early Medieval Europe, in Medieval Studies, and in the study of History; 5) to encourage a global understanding of historical change by studying European medieval history within a global perspective; 6) to dispel the negative myths regarding the Middle Ages; 7) to explore the early origins of Islam and to understand and appreciate the cooperative legacy of Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations in Iberia before the eleventh century; 8) to assist students to learn to write and read critically, clearly, and analytically; 9) to fulfill the Liberal Studies requirement in Historical Studies; 10) to help the student learn how to write a research paper associated with a topic related to the Early Middle Ages; 11) to promote an understanding of the principal geographical and topographical features of Europe, and 12) to familiarize students with the use of reserve readings, online readings, library resources, and the academic integrity policy.


COURSE FORMAT.  The course consists of lectures, PowerPoint presentations, small group work (in class), debates, films, and class discussions about the readings.  The syllabus proceeds chronologically and topically.  Lectures will help prepare the student for a discussion of the primary sources.   Intensive study of the primary sources is the principal focus of the course.  Every two weeks on Friday there will be a short quiz on the textbook reading for that week, and on alternate Fridays students will turn in a one-page, un-graded focus paper on assigned readings or in response to a study question. 



eCollege is web based course management system that we will use for this course.   Accessible through eCollege are the syllabus, study questions, announcements about upcoming events, any documents or texts, links to maps and web sites, and any other communication or documents deemed important to the management of the course.   The URL location for eCollege is www.smcvtonline.org, and students should place it in their Favorites folder.   Students can gain access to eCollege by using their Login ID (the mikenet name) and College ID#, which functions as the password.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS.  There are no prerequisites for the course. The requirements are the following:  1) required readings per week; 2) a research paper of seven (7) to nine (9) pages in length (excluding notes and bibliography) on a topic relating to early medieval Spain (al-Andalus) (20% of final grade, due November 2), 3) one hourly examination on October 3 (10% of grade), 4) a final examination on December 11 (109A) or December 10 (109B) (30% of grade); 5) class participation (attendance, involvement in class discussions, debates; 20% of grade); 6) quizzes (10% of final grade); and 7) focus papers (10% of final grade). 



As a courtesy, students should inform me in advance of any anticipated absence. Please arrange all travel arrangements so that you do not miss any scheduled classes and exams.   Note the dates of the final exam.  There will be no make-ups for the quizzes, the focus papers, or the midterm examination except for verifiable medical and personal reasons that are cleared through the Associate Dean’s Office. 


Focus Papers

Throughout the semester on every other Friday students will turn in seven (7) one-page, typed, double-spaced focus papers that respond to a study question or are related to specific readings.  The questions are posted at my web site and accessible through eCollege.  The papers will not be graded.  Hard copy focus papers are to be turned in during the class meeting when they are due; they are not to be emailed.   No late submissions are acceptable.  Students have the option of not submitting one focus paper without penalty.  Dates they are due are designated by “fp” next to the date on the syllabus.


The Paper

The paper is due at my office on Friday, November 2There will be a half a letter grade penalty (5 points) for every day the paper is late.   For a topic, students will be able to choose from a variety of historical problems associated with Muslim Spain, distributed after the hourly examination.  Students are required to use at least three primary sources and three secondary sources.  Primary sources may include documents in the Rosenwein reader or online at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.  Secondary sources will be available on reserve at the Circulation Desk (you can also use your text book and Fletcher as secondary sources).


The paper must follow the required methods of citing primary and secondary sources, and it must also include a formal bibliography.  History Department policy requires students to use footnotes or endnotes in the proper format.   In-text citations (notes within parentheses inside the text) are unacceptable.  For information on citing sources and creating bibliographies, see my Guide for Papers (posted at the eCollege site and at my web site).    See also the citation guides posted at the Durick Library web site under “Student Services” (Documenting and Citing). 



There will be seven (7) very brief short answer quizzes (short answer, five minutues) on Fridays during the semester.  The lowest quiz score will be dropped.  Due dates are designated by “q” next to the date.



No student may use cell phones or send or check text messages during class.  Any student wishing to use a personal computer in class must get permission from me in advance.  Unless it is absolutely necessary for health reasons, students will refrain from leaving the classroom during class.  The student is responsible for familiarizing herself or himself with the Academic Integrity Policy of the College.   Violations of academic integrity (plagiarism, multiple submission, unauthorized assistance, interference, interference using information technology) can result in sanctions ranging from failure for the assignment, failure of the course, the obligation to repeat the assignment with a lower grade, or dismissal from the course.  The Judicial Review Board may impose other sanctions as well.  Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.   According to the Policy on Academic Integrity included in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct and posted online, 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.”   



Students with documented learning disabilities should feel free to discuss with me special accommodations that they may require.  I am happy to make whatever accommodations are necessary for any student who is working with Ms. Toni Messuri, Liaison for Students with Special Needs (x2818).




Beowulf, trans. Burton Raffel (Signet, 1999).  ISBN-10: 0451527402.  ISBN-13: 978-0451527400


Barbara Rosenwein, Reading the Middle Ages (Broadview Press 2006).   ISBN-10: 1551116936 ISBN-13: 978-1551116938 ($42.00 but try to get it cheaper) 


Richard Fletcher, Moorish Spain, 2nd edition (University of California Press, 2006).  Two ISBN numbers:  ISBN-10: 0520248406, ISBN-13: 978-0520248403


C. Warren Hollister and Judith Bennett, Medieval Europe: A Short History (10th edition, McGraw Hill, 2005).  ISBN 10: 0072955155


Aside from the printed primary and secondary texts for purchase, we will also be drawing on sources posted at various internet web sites, including the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.  You can gain access to online readings by going to the online syllabus at the eCollege site.  Most readings should also be available through the syllabus posted at my web site.


Reserve and Online Readings:  There will be two types of reserve readings for this course.  I will place one hard copy essay on reserve at the Circulation Desk in the Durick Library: 

         Lisa Bitel, “Women in Early Medieval Northern Europe,” in Becoming Visible:  Women in European History, Renate Bridenthal et al., editors, 3rd edition (1998).  On reserve, Circulation Desk (Durick Library)

         Three other readings, The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity , the Germania of Tacitus, and Ibn Abd-el Haken, “Islamic Conquest of Spain”, all from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, will be also be accessible through a link to this syllabus.


Web Resources for the Study of the Middle Ages:

Principal web resources for the study of the Early Middle Ages include the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, the Internet Medieval History Sourcebook, Labyrinth, NetSerf, and Orb.  For access, you can go to the list of significant web sites posted at the eCollege site for this course or at my personal web site.



Introduction to course:  “The Middle Ages and Its Myths”                     

Review of syllabus; in-class reading (Minucius Felix)                                      August 27



Lecture:  “The Roman Empire and Christianity”                                                   

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 1                                                                       August 29

Primary sources:

Rosenwein, 1.1-1.2                                                                                          August 31fp

The Passion of Saints Perpetua  And Felicity (online)                                              September 3

Rosenwein, 1.3, 1.4                                                                                         September 5

Rosenwein, 1.5, 1.6                                                                                         September 7q

Rosenwein, 1.7-1.9                                                                                          September 10


Lecture:  “Crisis in the West and the German Migrations”                                      

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 2                                                                       September 12

Primary sources:

Rosenwein, 1.14, 1.15; Tacitus, Germania                                                       September 14fp

Rosenwein,1.16,1.17                                                                                       September 17                                                                                                                                     


Lecture:  “The Early Medieval West”

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 3                                                                       September 19

Primary sources: 

Rosenwein, 2.11                                                                                              September 21q

Rosenwein, 2.12-2.16                                                                                      September 24

Film:  “The Art of Celtic Manuscripts”                                                           September 26

Reading (Bitel, on reserve, Circulation Desk)                                                 September 28fp

Film:  “The Lindisfarne Gospels”                                                                    October 1

**Hourly Examination**                                                                                    October 3



Lecture:  “Byzantium”                                                          

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 4, 68-81                                                            October 5q

Primary sources: 

**October Break**                                                                                          October 8-9

Rosenwein, 2.1-2.5                                                                                          October 10

Presentation:  The Mosaics of Ravenna                                                          October 12fp

Rosenwein, 3.3, Map 3.1, 3.4                                                                          October 15

Rosenwein, 3.5, 3.6, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8                                                                    October 17



Lecture:  “The Emergence of Islam”

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 4, 81-96                                                            October 19q

Primary sources:                                                                                             

Rosenwein, 2.6-2.10                                                                           

Ibn Abd-el Haken, “Islamic Conquest of Spain” (online)                                      October 22                 

Rosenwein, 3.7-3.14                                                                                        October 24

Fletcher, chapters 1-3                                                                                      October 26fp

Fletcher, chapters 4-6                                                                                      October 29

Fletcher, chapters 7-9                                                                                      October 31

Rosenwein, 4.1, 4.9, 4.10                                                                                November 2q

**Research Paper Due**                                                                                     November 2



Lecture:  “The Carolingians”

Textbook:  Hollister, chapter 5                                                                        November 5

Rosenwein, 3.1, 3.4, 3.15-3.18                                                                        November 7

Einhard (online)                                                                                              November 9fp

Rosenwein, 3.19                                                                                              November 12



Lecture:  “Fragmentation and Recovery in the Tenth Century”

Textbook:  Hollister:  chapter 6                                                                      November 14

Rosenwein, 4.3-4.6                                                                                          November 16q

Rosenwein, 4.15-4.17                                                                                      November 19

**Thanksgiving Break**                                                                                  November 21-25

Beowulf , first half                                                                                             November 26

Beowulf , second half                                                                                        November 28

Beowulf (video performance on dvd; Benjamin Bagby)                                    November 30fp

Rosenwein, 4.11-4.14, Plate 4.1, 4.18                                                             December 3

Roswitha of Gandersheim, Dulcitius    (in-class reading)                                 December 5


COURSE SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION                                          December 7q



         History 109A:  December 11, 1:00-3:30 pm (Tuesday)

         History 109B:  December 10, 1:00-3:30 pm (Monday)