Western Civ I/II – These course are intended to familiarize students with the historian’s craft and introduce students to the cultures that helped shape the world in which we live today. Student Learning Outcomes include (1) to learn how to read and analyze primary sources, and (2) to use primary sources to formulate a critical argument about the past. Special attention is given to the following topic:
- the role of heroes
- forms of law and order
- intellectual, artistic, and scientific achievements
- the development of religious sensibilities and ethical systems
- the the rise of the nation-state, development of empire and imperial ambitions
Europe and the World, 1200–1680 – This course examines the dynamic transformation of European culture across four centuries of social, religious, political, and commercial change. It begins in the High Middle Ages during a period of urban expansion and intellectual revival. It then delves into the major catastrophes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—disease, famine, war, and rebellion. Emerging from this time of crisis, it looks at the new cultural and political currents of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the age of Global Convergence. Finally, it examines the challenge posed to the Western Church by the Protestant Reformation and the religious conflicts that wracked Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The course ends with a role playing game and religious debate.
Sex in the Middle Ages – The Middle Ages played a critical role in the construction of modern Western sexual and gender identities as well as our conception of love and romance. This course explores the treatment of sex and sexuality in the Middle Ages. Topics discussed will include love and romance, gender relations, homosexuality, marriage and adultery, gynecology and medicine, prostitution, masturbation, sexual deviancy, and eroticism.
Note: This is a project-based course; in lieu of daily readings, students complete several written and visual projects engaging with classmates and the community. Example: Getty Center Visit and Art Fair. Please contact me, if you are interested in learning more about other projects.
Medieval Europe, 1000–1500 – culture has been the subject of popular fascination for hundreds of years. Why? This course explores the vibrant and dynamic world of medieval Europe with special emphasis on the social, political, and economic changes that transformed European culture and geography helping to shape the world we live in today.
The Crusades – This course examines the crusading movement in the context of the medieval world: Why did medieval people go on crusade? What were the motives and experiences of the crusaders? How did the Muslims view the crusaders? How have scholars interpreted the crusades? What is the legacy of the crusades today? Assignments include critical evaluation of primary sources as well as a creative-writing exercise—a first-person narrative told from the point of view of a crusader.
The Mediterranean, 1000 BCE –600CE – This course explores the interaction of Mediterranean cultures in the ancient world. It begins with developments in the Fertile Crescent and the eastern Mediterranean, particularly the rise of Greek culture, and its legacy in Eurasia. It then moves westward to the Italian peninsula examining the development of Roman culture, its assimilation of Greek cultural modes, emphasis on civic institutions, and imperial policy. Finally, it considers the place of Christianity in the Roman Empire and the many challenges faced by the world of late antiquity. The midterm examination is a role-playing game and political debate.
World History, Prehistory-600 C.E. – Moments in which different peoples and cultures encountered each other were often violent, but also generated new cultural forms. Such encounters transcended geographical space and facilitated the exchange of new ideas, products, and technologies. This course is intended to introduce students to the history of mankind from the beginning of our species to around 600 C.E. by focusing on times of conflict, collaboration, and cross-cultural exchange.
Note: This course was taught in two parts: lecture plus discussion section. The attached syllabus includes a week-by-week assignment and activity guide for section.
Research and Writing Seminars
Body Matters: Life, Death, and the Body in the Middle Ages – The human body has fascinated and perplexed cultures throughout time. The body and its condition as a source of pleasure and pain, health and disease, birth and death, success and failure, reward and punishment is the subject of imagination, literature, scientific inquiry, philosophy, and religion. This courses examines perceptions of the human body in the context of medieval intellectual cultural. It explores the importance of the body in the conception of self, attitudes toward physical appearance, pain, torture, sexuality, the handling of corpses, cannibalism, and ghosts. The main objective of this course is to familiarize students with the skills of deconstructive historical analysis through the examination of secondary literature. Students will discuss current historiographical trends and learn to critically review and evaluate historical arguments.
Encounters of the Third Kind: Exploring the Unknown in Medieval and Early Modern Europe – Humans are curious creatures always driven to explore the world around us. This course examines the role of travel narratives and adventure stories in shaping Western ideas and fantasies of peoples, lands, and possibilities beyond Europe. The course is guided by the following research question: What do Western (European) accounts of non-Western places and peoples (real or imagined) reveal about Western society and the intellectual culture of medieval and early modern Europe?
Note: While the weekly readings in the course focused on the Middle Ages, students could choose to research any time period as long as their primary source described an encounter between a Western traveler and a world yet unknown to the West. Research Paper topics ranged from ancient and medieval travel narratives to Gulliver’s Travels and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Negotiating Difference: Gender, Ethnicity, and Religion in the Middle Ages – In the Middle Ages, much like today, human beings created order by dividing the world into clearly delineated, and often opposing, social and cultural categories. This course explores processes of identity formation that structured medieval societies along lines of division and collaboration, inclusion and exclusion.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to history-specific writing methods. Each week students will read a “Primary Source Packet” designed by the instructor with primary source excerpts, introductory notes, and commentary. Occasionally students will also read secondary sources. All assigned secondary sources engage with the primary sources in the packet. Students will be asked to parse these texts in class in order to determine the structure of the author’s argument and consider the author’s use of source evidence. Example “Primary Source Packet”- Men I
General Teaching Resources
What is history? – This worksheet is intended to introduce students to history as a discipline and describe the job of a historian.
Summary: As a historian, you are a detective. You must use clues to solve a mystery. In other words, you must use primary sources (clues) in order to understand the society that produced those texts (mystery). Once you have solved the mystery you must share your results and convince your audience of their validity.
Why study history? – This worksheet introduces students to the transferable skills that they will learn in history courses—verbal and written communication skills, the ability to interpret and evaluate information from a variety of sources, and the ability to transform information into knowledge, take a stance, and craft a written argument. Before distributing this worksheet, it is advisable to ask students to research the latest data on “Top Skills that Get You Hired.” Students will be surprised to discover that the skills they will learn in history courses align with employer needs.
“Framing Evidence”: Making Evidence Meaningful – This worksheet introduces students to analytical paragraph structure.
Summary: The greatest part of being a detective is sharing your finding with others. Your audience is an educated group of men and women, but they are NOT detectives like yourself. In order for your audience to understand how you came to your conclusions, you must explain your interpretation of each clue in a logical and coherent way. Then, you must tie these interpretations together in a logical and coherent narrative. Most importantly, you must explain your reasoning step-by-step. If you do not properly contextualize your evidence (who, where, when, what), clearly explain how you arrived at your conclusions (how), and state why your conclusion solves the mystery (why), then your audience will not be able to follow your explanation.
K-12: Preparing for College Writing
This workshop is intended to introduce high school students to history as a discipline and explain the job duties of a historian. Students are encouraged to use the analogy of a crime scene investigation to reflect on the process of historical research and writing.
The Mystery: Why was Martin Luther King’s speech appealing to the American public in the 1960s? (2) What qualities did MLK have that made him a successful leader in the 1960s?
The Clue: King, Martin L., Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Speech. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. 28 Aug. 1963. (Note: MLK’s speech is used as a case study. This is not a lesson plan on MLK. The same lesson can be done with any primary source.)
For homework, students will read and annotate MLK’s speech looking for words and phrases that would have been attractive and/or provocative to people in the 1960s (A basic overview of political, social, and economic trends of the 1960s is included in the packet and will have been discussed in class prior to the reading assignment).
In class, students will re-read MLK’s speech as part of an instructor-modeled close reading exercise. Then, students will work in groups of four to find one quote from the text that can be used to solve the “mystery.” Each group will present their findings and explain (1) what the quote means, (2) how it answers/addresses the “mystery,” and (3) what it can tell us about society in the 1960s.
This workshop is intended to reinforce the skills developed in Workshop #1 and reflect on their importance. Students are once again encouraged to use the analogy of a crime scene investigation to understand the steps involved in the process of historical research and writing.
After completing the instructor-modeled close reading and group exercise as part of Workshop #1, students should be prepared to begin communicating their interpretation of the MLK’s speech. In class, students will complete a chart that models the step-by-step process of primary source analysis.
For homework, students will transform the chart into a paragraph and then reflect on their experience. In particular, students will consider what about history is objective and what is subjective, as well as how the historian is involved in the creation of history.
This workshop is intended to introduce students to argumentative essay structure by building upon and integrating the skills acquired and ideas discussed in the previous two workshops.
Using the chart from Workshop #2, students will complete a “fill-in-the-blank” essay with instructor assistance. The essay contains transitions, but expects students to provide the content.
For homework, students will reflect on the role of correlating and coordinating conjunctions in creating a convincing argument.
This workshop is intended to introduce students to the two main components of an academic thesis: falsifiability and specificity. Using examples, students are asked (1) to consider the difference between a summary statement, opinion statement, and an academic thesis, and (2) how to avoid the trap of a summary and opinion statement.