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Syllabus HIS 246

Civilizations of the Ancient World

"History is philosophy teaching by examples." — THUCYDIDES

Course Info

HIS 246, section 01W
Fall 2014
Room CA-209
Tuesdays and Thursdays
9:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Instructor
Mark Wilson
MARK.WILSON@lehman.cuny.edu
http://markbwilson.com
(718) 960-8288

Office Hours
Room CA-292
Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Drop in Thursdays 12–6 p.m.

Rationale

Our entire lives are conditioned by concepts like civilization and society, yet we seldom stop to think about how they shape our behaviors and expectations. By traveling back to the very emergence of civilization, we can experience both the revolution in how humans related to each other and the proliferation of new kinds of societies-each with their own distinct ideas about communities and individuals, communication, trade, protection, gender, mortality, and the wild, unbounded realms of the gods. All of this forms not just the background but the substance of the modern world-how we think, and what others think of us. The everyday hubbub of ancient worlds vibrates in the bones of our own societies.

Aims

In this course we will explore the Mediterranean world, beginning with the first humans and tracing the development of civilization from Mesopotamia and Egypt to the ancient Greek city-states and the rise and fall of Rome. Our plan will be to compare the principles and practices of these societies, toward a stronger understanding of human society in general.

Specific Learning Objectives

In this course we'll be pursuing a number of goals, including:

Course Readings

The following three books are required:

Mathisen, Ralph W.
Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations:
From Prehistory to 640 CE
,
Second Edition.
Oxford University Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9780199384457.

George, Andrew R.
The Epic of Gilgamesh.
London: Penguin Books, 2003.
ISBN: 9780140449198.

Aristophanes, and Peter Meineck.
Clouds.
Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.
ISBN: 9780872205161.

  • Make sure you get the right edition. The second edition is brand new, so there won't be used copies; but you can buy or rent both print and digital versions. See the “Getting the Books” page for more info.
  • I strongly recommend the Andrew George edition of Gilgamesh because he translated directly from the source. It also has a useful introduction.
  • If you get another edition, make sure it is based on the Standard Version of the epic. There is not a good version online, so you're best off with the Penguin.
  • The Clouds itself is widely available, but we'll also be working with the translator's annotations and interpretations, so you'll want to get this version if possible.
  • Another possibility (used previously for this class) is the translation by Marie Marianetti, ISBN: 978-0-761-80588-5.

All are available from Lehman College Bookstore, either in person or online. (The website URL for the bookstore is http://www.lehmancollege.bkstr.com.)

All three are also available from Amazon and other online retailers. If you order online, make sure you do so enough in advance that you'll receive the books in time for the assignments. For more info on getting the books and direct links for buying online or getting the digital editions, click here.

Attendance

Class attendance is required. Missing classes will damage your grade. The textbook is designed to give you the basics; it's in class that we try to make sense of things and sift out what's important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together. Plus, if you miss classes or habitually arrive late, you'll miss quizzes, which will put a big crimp in your grade for the course.

Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.

Make-up exams are given only in cases of documented medical emergencies.

Assignments

Your grade for the course will be determined from the following:

Quizzes   15%
Interpretive Essays   30%
Midterm   20%
Final Exam   35%

I do not give extra credit opportunities except to the entire class. I do not grade on a curve.

Quizzes

Interpretive Essays

Midterm Exam

Final Exam

Submitting Assignments

You may email me your written assignments, but it doesn't "count" unless you get an email back from me saying I received it. Unless I reply back to you, I didn't receive it. If there's any question about whether I'm receiving your emails, please talk to me about it in class. I will accept only the following file formats: DOCX, DOC, RTF, ODT, and PDF.

Late assignments will be marked down. Written assignments will be marked down one letter grade per class meeting after the assignment due date, up to a maximum of 30 points. That means you're still better off turning in your paper late, and having it be marked down, than not turning it in at all.

Guidelines

Don't waste this opportunity! Make the most out of this class.

Please use me as a resource. Come to my office hours, talk to me after class, or send me emails with any questions you have-whether they relate to the requirements of the course or ideas we're reading about or discussing in class.

Be on time and prepared. By prepared, I mean you should come into class having done the readings for that day and thought about them. Come in ready to talk about your reactions to the readings and the questions they raised in your mind.

Check your email. Make sure I have a good email address for you and check it, as I occasionally send information and updates by email. If you have not gotten an email from me within the first week after school begins, check your spam folders. If you can't find an email from me, email me to let me know.

Cell phones and electronics need to be silenced and stowed. A phone ringing during class is hugely disruptive. Texting during class is just as rude and insulting as talking on the phone.

Talk to me if you're struggling. Come to me in office hours or after class, and the sooner the better. Don't wait until it's too late to turn things around.

Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include-but are not limited to-plagiarism (in drafts, outlines, and examinations, as well as final papers), cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages in them is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action. Plagiarism includes the incorporation of any material that is not original with you without attribution, whether from a book, article, web site, or fellow student, in any paper or assignment. Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero and the offending student will be subject to additional action by the College. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action. For more: http://www.lehman.edu/undergraduate-bulletin/academicintegrity.htm

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238; phone number: (718) 960-8441.