Minot State University College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Humanities

Minot State University College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Humanities

Minot State University College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Humanities

Humanities 251: Classical to Early Medieval Western Civilization

11-12:15 Tuesdays and Thursdays, 330 West Hartnett Hall

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Dyplon Crater, Winged VictoryPericles of Athens

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Course Info

Instructor: Robert E. Kibler

Office: 229 West Hartnett Hall

Office Hours: 10-11, T/Th, 12-1 MWF


Work: 858 3876

Cell: 720 2716


Required Texts (on E-Res or In Bookstore)

L. Cunningham, Culture and Values

Homer’s Iliad

Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars (Book 5 on E-Res)
Sappho, Poems
Sophocles, Antigone
Catullus, Poems
Tacitus, Agricola and Germania
Heaney, Beowulf
Heaney, Beowulf CD

Course Overview

Humanities 251 helps fulfill Minot State University’s General Education requirement, and is the first in a three-course sequence designed to introduce us to the tremendous intellectual, artistic, and cultural heritage left by those who have already had their day in the sun. As such, its primary goal is to afford us the opportunity to critically evaluate past thought and culture both for itself and as it relates to life and culture now, here in Minot, in the year 2008.

During the Fall 2008 term we will explore enduring aspects of Western civilization as we find them beginning about the 8th century BCE in the land of the Greeks—of Aristotle, Homer, Sappho, and others-- then moving westward through space and onwards through time, passing through the ancient Roman world of Caesar, Catullus, and Tacitus-- from thence into early medieval Europe, the land and time of Beowulf and other warring people. We will read what is currently known about these Western people and their worlds, and more importantly, will read what they actually say themselves, through their art, music, diaries, diatribes, philosophies, and poems. In such a way, by term’s end, we will have acquired the intellectual resources necessary to evaluate the merit of many aspects of the ongoing human story in terms of the classical Western past, and to know a little bit more about the world we today call our own as a result of that past.

Because this course is part of the General Education program at MSU, it has five goals, called “strands.” When you complete this course, you should be able to:

  1. Analyze art and culture of the period in historical, formal, and personal ways.
  2. Identify or define the things necessary to understand the art and culture of the period.
  3. Trace the general influences and lines of development of the art and culture of this period.
  4. Understand how cultures—including non-Western ones—express values and perceptions in artistic and philosophic forms appropriate to our own contemporary cultures.
  5. Understand what constitutes sublimity or beauty in the arts and culture of the period.

Humanities 251 is constituted as a mix of lecture and class discussion, so come prepared to contribute to the great adventure in learning! It is what is called an “enquiry-based” course, because we search for questions and answers through dialogue, often live, in the classroom.


You have to be in class. When you miss a class, you probably miss a quiz or a test and you will definitely miss information for which you will be responsible later. I also lower your course grade by one letter for every ‘fourth’ absence. Expect short reading quizzes almost daily—especially at first.

Course Specifics

Our work is divided into three geo-historic sections—Greece, Rome, Northern Europe, and is of two types—informational and analytical. That is to say, expect to simply have to know/memorize some dates, facts, bits of information about the periods and their prevalent art, literature, and philosophy. Also expect to read both secondary and primary sources related to these three periods, and to draw thoughtful conclusions from what we read, supported by specific proofs from the texts.

Formal evaluation of our term’s work will come in three forms: quizzes, exams, and short response papers. We will have many of these—quizzes will happen almost daily. Exams will always been announced, and have double the weight of a quiz. Response papers have double the weight of exams. The cumulative quizzes, exams, and papers for any given geo-historic period will result in one 25% grade for that period, even though the number of quizzes, exams, and papers will probably vary from period to period, depending on the level and quality of classroom discussion. As a result, we will have four (4) big grades for the term, and roughly the following amount of work per section:

Greece25% (5-10 quizzes, 1test, 2-3 two-page typed papers)

Rome25% (same)

Europe25% (same)

Cumulative final 25% (comprehensive, 2-3 short essays, 20-30 identifications

of dates, distances, directions, persons, events, ideas, artworks, based on all

that we have done during the term.

There will be no make up quizzes or exams, and no late papers accepted without a good reason given.


***keep in mind that this syllabus is a rough map of where we hope to go this term and when. As a rough map, it is subject to change, and we will likely change it as the need arises. Bring this syllabus with you to class so that you can record the changes as they are likely to happen.

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Ancient Greece

Week 1 Aug 25-29

Introductions, dates, distances, directions, gods and goddesses, Pre-Socratics

Film on ancient Greece

Quiz on syllabus

Week 2 Sept 1-5

Cunningham Chapters 2 and 3

Read Thucydides’ “Melian Dialogue” (on E-Res)


Week 3 Sept 8-12


Week 4 Sept 15-19


Week 5Sept 22-27

Sophocles’ Antigone


Week 6Sept 29-October 3

Exam on Classical Aniquity

Introduction to Rome


Week 7 Oct 6-10

Cunningham Chapter 4, pages 89-119.

Introduction to Rome: Movie

Dates, places, gods and goddesses for Roman World

Week 8 Oct 13-17

Catullus, Propertius, Sulpicia, and Roman Love Elegy

Week 9 Oct 20-24

Tacitus’ Germania (on E-Res)

Week 10 Oct 27-31

Exam on Ancient Rome

Introduction Early Medieval Europe

Early Medieval Europe

Week 11 Novembeer 3-7

Cunningham Chapter 9

“Battle of Maldon”

Week 12 Nov 9-14

Maldon, Dream of the Rood, Deor, Widsith

Parable of the Sparrow


Week 13 Nov 17-21


Week 14 Nov 24-28 Thanksgiving

Week 15


Early Medieval Europe Exam

Week 16

Final Exam Prep

Final Exam to be held at _____, on December ______, in 330 Hartnett Hall West.

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