Please note: Cell phones must be put away during class unless being 

used to consult course readings. 

COURSE SYLLABUS (also available on Canvas)
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RUBRIC ONE: The First Civilizations and the Classical Legacy

Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 

Rubric focus: ethics philosophy

Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Group Discussion prompt:

How do artistic works (music, visual representations, dance, literature, etc.) reflect the culture(s) from 

which they come?

Chapter 1

"Mesopotamia: Crash Course World History #3"  

STUDY QUESTIONS for the "Epic of Gilgamesh" 

1. What is Gilgamesh's position in society?

2. How would you describe Gilgamesh (parents, qualities, flaws)? 

3. Who creates Enkidu and why? What changes does Enkidu undergo before he meets with Gilgamesh?

4. What is the nature of the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh? Why do they go on a quest? What 

kind of quest is it?

5. What does the story of Inanna-Ishtar and Gilgamesh tell us about the Sumerian-Babylonian attitudes to love 

and women?

6. Why must Enkidu die? 

7. Why does Gilgamesh react to Enkidu's death in the way that he does?

8. Who is Utnapishtim-the-Faraway? Where does he live? 


9. Why do the gods send the Flood and why does Utnapishtim escape? 

10. What does the behavior of the gods during the Great Flood tell you about the nature of the Mesopotamian 


11. What is Utnapishtim's eventual fate? 

12. What is Utnapishtim's message for Gilgamesh? 

13. What is the nature of the plant with the flower?

14. What does Gilgamesh plan to do with the plant?

15. What is Gilgamesh's fate? What has he learned from his quest?



Chapter 2


Questions for the Book of the Dead, Ma'at, and the Negative Confessions  

1. Who was Ma'at? What concept did she represent?

2. What was the main purpose of a Book of the Dead?

3. What was the weighing of the heart ceremony? What is its significance?

4. Consult the list of Confessions in our textbook. (To consult the entire translated list, click here.)

5. According to the Negative Confessions, what kinds of actions did the Egyptians consider inappropriate?

6. Consider each confession as a law with a purpose. What is that purpose? 

7. Next consider what would motivate citizens to follow this code of behavior.

8. Which point(s) of the Negative Confessions do you find most important to maintaining harmony 

    within community?

9. How does the code outlined in the Negative Confessions compare to contemporary codes of morality 

    with which you are familiar? 

10. Choose 2 of the confessions and re-write them as positives instead of negatives.

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Chapter 6

View "The philosophy of Stoicism" with Massimo Pigliucci then respond to the following questions.

1. Which of the following is not a Stoic virtue:

A. Courage

B. Justice

C. Faith

D. Temperance

2. Around what time was Stoicism founded by Zeno of Citium?

A. 700 BCE

B. 300 BCE

C. 150 CE

D. 1450  

3. What is the Stoic idea of logos?

A. The law of universal reason

B. What the universe is made of

C. It means "the word"

D. One of the Stoic virtues

4. Which of the following historical figures was not a Stoic?

A. Epictetus

B. Seneca

C. Marcus Aurelius

D. Epicurus

5. Which of these philosophies and schools of personal therapy do not have strong commonalities with 


A. Freudian psychoanalysis

B. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

C. Buddhism

D. Logotherapy

Read the textbook excerpt from Roman philosopher Seneca's "On Tranquility of Mind" and respond to the 
        questions following the reading. Then respond to the questions below.

1. Who was Seneca?

2. Seneca states that it is necessary to correctly access our character, our strengths and our weaknesses. 

3. Seneca also states that it is essential to correctly access those with whom we interact. Why? 

4. What qualities does Seneca suggest we seek in our friends?

5. Seneca and Stoics in general maintain that one's disciplined use of a very specific human capacity is vital to one's peace of mind. What is that capacity?

6. Is Seneca's Stoic philosophy anchored in the past, the present, or the future? Explain.

7. What specifically does Seneca name as the "greatest source of affliction to humanity"? Why?

Interested in further exploration of Stoicism? Follow these links:

Pop philosopher Alain de Botton: "Seneca on Anger" 

Chapter 7

Follow this link.  

Medieval Europe and the World Beyond

Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14

Rubric focus : religious architecture

Chapter 8 

In-class viewing: Buddhism, from the series Heaven on Earth: Monuments to Belief 

(WCC Library website: "Films on Demand" / 26:14 minutes)


Chapter 9 


Define, identify, or explain the following:

  • the Byzantine Empire
  • Augustine of Hippo (also called Saint Augustine)
  • iconography
  • early Christian architecture
  • Constantine
  • Constantinople
  • Istanbul
  • Justinian and Theodora
  • Hagia Sophia
  • mosaics
  • the Iconoclastic Controversy

In-class viewing: Hagia Sophia: Istanbul's Ancient Mystery 

(WCC Library website: "Films on Demand" / 53:20 minutes)

Post-viewing questions for Hagia Sophia: Istanbul's Ancient Mystery

1. What is Hagia Sophia?

2. Where is Hagia Sophia?

3. When was Hagia Sophia built?

4. Who built Hagia Sophia? (name both the architect and the ruler)

5. What is the origin of some of the stones used in Hagia Sophia? (name several places)

6. What is the greatest geological threat to Hagia Sophia?

7. What cultural threats have impacted Hagia Sophia?

8. What is the purpose of the windows in the second dome designed and constructed for Hagia Sophia?

9. What religious groups have worshipped in Hagia Sophia?

10. What is Hagia Sophia's function today?

11. What is the purpose of the thin gold leafing in the mosaics? 

12. What is the purpose of building a model of Hagia Sophia?


Chapter 10

Religious architecture

Essential forms: the sacred mountain, post-and-lintel, the tower, the arch (and its combinations, called 

"vaults"), the dome of heaven

Essential terms: arch, vault, buttress

Sacred buildings: temple, shrine, stupa, church, mosque, pagoda

Islamic Mosque Architecture 


Mosque: the term for a Muslim place of worship.

Mecca: The birthplace of the prophet Mohammad (570–632CE), Mecca is a city in modern-day western Saudi 

           Arabia, considered by Muslims to be the holiest city of Islam.

Hajj: This Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca takes place in the last month of the year. All Muslims are expected to 

        make this trip at least once during their lifetime.

Kaaba: A square stone building in the center of the Great Mosque at Mecca, this is the most holy site in the 

           Muslim faith. It stands on the site of a pre-Islamic shrine said to have been built by Abraham. Muslims 

           worldwide are supposed to face in the direction of the Kaaba during prayer.

Qibla: the term for the direction of the Kaaba, to which Muslims turn at prayer. The qibla is indicated in a  

          mosque by the position of the mihrab.

Mihrab: A niche in the wall of each mosque at the point nearest to Mecca, the congregation faces the mihrab 

            to pray.

Minaret: A tall slender tower, typically part of a mosque, a minaret contains a balcony from which a muezzin 

            calls Muslims to prayer.

Muezzin: The muezzin is a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque.

Minbar: a raised podium from which a religious leader speaks to those gathered in the mosque

Ablution fountain: where those who gather to pray wash themselves first

Two well known examples of Islamic architecture that are not mosques

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem 

The Taj Mahal mausoleum in Agra, India 

The 3 principle architectural styles of Islamic mosques 

1. The hypostyle mosque

Mosque of Uqba (Kairouan, Tunisia)

Córdoba (Spain)

2. The four-iwan mosque

3. The centrally-planned mosque

[Example of contemporary mosque architecture, with a blending of styles: King Faisel Mosque in Islamabad, 


Useful references:


1. Islam rapidly spread east and west from the Middle East into both India and Spain. 

   Despite these geographic contrasts, what features do mosques typically have in common?

2. Islamic mosques are not decorated with images of people. 

    Instead, what decorative motifs and techniques are used?


Chapter 11

Video on medieval society by Ryan Reeves, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-

Conwell Theological Seminary (not required viewing)

Code of chivalry

To fear God and maintain His Church

To serve the liege lord in courage and faith

To protect the weak and defenseless

To aid widows and orphans

To refrain from the wanton giving of offense

To live by honor and for glory

To despise pecuniary (monetary) reward

To fight for the welfare of all

To obey those placed in authority

To guard the honor of fellow knights

To eschew (avoid/refrain from) unfairness, meanness and deceit

To keep faith

To speak the truth at all times

To persevere to the end in any task undertaken

To respect the honor of women

Never to refuse a challenge from an equal

Never to turn the back upon a foe

Questions: Song of Roland

1. What type of literature is the Song of Roland?

2. When did the historical event happen?

3. When was the Song of Roland composed? 

4. Who are the principle characters in the story?

5. What two groups oppose each other in the Song of Roland?

6. The representation of the conflict is not historically accurate. Propose reasons for the inaccuracies.

7. What are the main points of the story (what happens)?

8. What is the disagreement between Roland and Oliver?

9. Why does Roland refuse to call for help on his Olifant (horn)?

10. What do you think about Oliver's and Roland’s decisions? Would you have acted differently? Explain.

11. Both Roland and Oliver are presented as role models. Using the story's descriptions of the two, describe 

      the ideal knight (a balance between the characteristics of Roland and those of Oliver).

    Below left: West façade of Chartres Cathedral (Chartres)             Below right: West façade of Notre-Dame (Paris)

Review questions
1. Which of the following is not true about the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres?
a. The Gothic features of the cathedral emphasized the idea that the building was a divine space.
b. Gothic architects tried to maximize the space for stained glass windows. The development of rib vaults      and flying buttresses made this easier.
c. An important symbol in this church is the light, which was considered as a symbol of divine presence.
d. The architect used rounded arches, thick walls, and massive piers to support the weight of the                  building internally.
2. Why is a cathedral built so those who worship inside are facing the east?
3. From a bird's eye view a Gothic cathedral is what basic, symbolic shape?
4. Pointed arches, flying buttresses, and rib vaults are all features of Gothic architecture. What did these features allow architects to do? 


1. Name 4 people we studied in this rubric who made substantial contributions to the world in which they 

lived. Also: identify the contributions made by those 4 people.

2. Identify 2 factors that contributed to the spread of Christianity.

3. Identify 3 principle characteristics of each of the following:

a. Buddhist stupas

b. Islamic mosques

c. Christian Gothic cathedrals.

4. Identify 2-3 similarities between Islamic mosques and Christian cathedrals.

5. Identify 2-3 differences between Islamic mosques and Christian cathedrals.

6. Identify the name and location of at least one Buddhist stupa, one Islamic mosque, and one Christian 

Gothic cathedral referenced in this rubric.

7. Explain how the Song of Roland represents the medieval European feudal system. 

8. Identify 3 scientific or technological contributions made by Islamic or Arab civilizations.

9. Identify the date and significance of each of the following: 

a. the Edict of Milan 

b. the Norman Conquest (Battle of Hastings)

c. the Magna Carta

10. The teachings of the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammed share some common points. Identify at least 2.

Choose 1 answer:

RUBRIC THREE: The European Renaissance, the Reformation, and Global Encounter

Chapters 15, 16, 18 + supplemental material

Rubric focus: literature (oral and written)

Chapter 15

Group Discussion Questions:

1. How does literature reflect culture?

2. How can literature shape culture?

Video: "Christine de Pisan, the first feminist" (from the Irish Audio Project)

Chapter 16 

Group Discussion Questions:

1. During the European Middle Ages, is the focus on humankind or on a divine external force?

2. In the ancient Greek and Roman philosophies we studied, is the focus on humankind or on a divine external 


3. Where is the focus in the Buddhist, Islamic, and Confucian belief systems we've considered?

4. Why is it important to learn about context when studying different aspects of a culture?

5. What influences our perception and understanding of a culture?

Questions on Reading 16.5 (Marinella)

1. Marinella divides the false, slanderous accusations made against women into 2 categories. What are they?

2. Why won't Marinella respond to arguments based on "specious reasonings"?

3. How does Marinella explain the errors that intelligent, educated men make about women?

4. Identify the passage in the reading that discusses invalid, inductive reasoning.

5. How does Marinella use the arguments of men to prove her point (that women are better and less weak of 

    will than men)? 


→To explore further the topic of violence against women during the European Renaissance, follow these links:

2.  Joan of Arc  

To learn more about Machievelli's The Prince, you may enjoy watching a short video (22:54) available 

   through Films on Demand via the WCC Library website. In the search box, type Machievelli: The Prince.


Chapter 17 (not covered summer quarter)

To explore more about linear perspective, check out this video: "Understanding Linear Perspective"  


1. Share the image you've chosen for today's assignment with the members of your group: identify the type of 

    art work (painting, sculpture, etc.), the title, artist, and time period; then explain why you chose the work 

    of art. 

2. When your group has completed point 1, turn to page 410 of our textbook and study the painting  
   at the top of the page. Identify the artist, medium, and the time periods represented. 

3. Next study the iconography (= the imagery within an artwork). Make a detailed list of what you see, noting 

   images, colors, shapes, lines, etc.

4. Examine the clothing of each of the figures in the fresco. Which figures (people) appear more than once

    Consider possible reasons for those repetitions.

Come to a consensus about the primary theme of this art work. Then write a theme statement, using a 

    complete sentence (or sentences). Points to consider: historical context, subject matter and medium, 

    composition and line, shape, color, focal areas, balance and perspective.


Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance paintingThe Last Supper is a fresco commissioned by Ludovico 

Sforza, the Duke of Milan. It measures 15' by 29' and depicts a very particular moment in biblical history: 

the moment just seconds after Jesus explained to his disciples that one of them would betray him. 

Choosing this particular moment allowed the artist to explore the emotions and psyches of the figures in 

the painting as they react to the announcement of the central figure, Jesus.

6. Share your group's theme statement with the rest of the class.


1. Turn to page 400 of our textbook and study Donatello's sculpture David. Describe the figure, making a list 

    of what you see. 

2. Now turn to page 423 of our textbook and study Michelangelo's sculpture David. Describe this figure.

3. Compare the two sculptures of David. Which is more realistic? Explain your reasoning.

4. Which sculpture appeals to you more? Why? If neither sculpture appeals to you, explain why.


Chapter 18

Explore more about the Sundiata here and here.

Learn more about the role of the griot here and/or watch Keita: the Heritage of the Griot via the WCC Library's 

Films on Demand.

Film Description: 
In this story-within-a-story, Mabo Keita, a young boy living in contemporary Burkina Faso, receives a message from a traditional storyteller (griot) that he must “learn the meaning of his name.” Mabo is a descendent of Sundiata Keita, legendary founder of the Mali Empire and hero of The Epic of Sundiata. As Sundiata Keita comes to understand his role in Mandé history, so the younger Keita grasps the scope and significance of his heritage—a lesson that was not taught in his school’s Westernized curriculum. French and Jula with English subtitles. (94 minutes)

Listen to Malian musician Salif Keita performing "Folon" here.

Listen here to Sibo Bangoura play the kora and sing "Nan Fulie" about the importance of Western African griots.

Listen to Usifuh Jalloh explain the difference between a griot and a storyteller here.

Listen to the Sunjata Story (with musical illustrations) here.

Required reading and viewing

Maiden of Deception Pass, Guardian of Her Samish People (DVD viewed in class, also available on the Reserve 

shelf of the WCC Library)

[You can read and/or listen to the tale here and/or here. Note, however, that this will only familiarize you with 

the story, not the content of the documentary film Maiden of Deception Pass, Guardian of Her Samish People.]

Watch "Why do I make time capsules for my heritage?" by artist Kayla Briët (not required)

Learn more about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy here (not required).

Learn about the Narragansett Indian Tribe here (not required).

Watch "The Man, the Snake and the Fox" (not required).


The Haudenosaunee Confederacy and "Hodadenon: the last one left and the chestnut tree"

1. Who are the Haudenosaunee?

2. What is a confederacy?

3. What is a participatory democracy?

4. What kind of constitution did the Haudenosaunee Confederacy originally have?

5. What are the three principles of the Great Law?

6. What do you think is the meaning of "the power of the good mind"?

7. What is a clan? (give details pertaining to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy)

8. How do you interpret the statement, "peace is a state of mind"?

9. Read together as a group the Haudenosaunee values and ethics. 

10. Find examples of those values in the story, "Hodadenon: the last one left and the chestnut tree."


Post-viewing questions for Maiden of Deception Pass: Guardian of Her Samish People

1. What is the purpose of this documentary?

2. Who was Ko-kwal-alwoot?

3. What is the significance of the Ko-kwal-alwoot story to the Samish people?

4. What is the significance of the family in Samish culture?

5. Why was the story pole created?

6. Who carved the story pole?

7. For a long period of time, the Samish people were not recognized as a tribe by the United States federal
   government. Why?

8. Why did so many Samish people move away from the region where they had lived for so long?

9. What was Tracy Powell’s initial reaction when he saw the log for the story pole?

10. Where is the story pole located?

11. What do the two sides of the story pole represent?

12. What is the significance to the Samish Indian Nation of the Maiden of Deception Pass story pole 


Discussion Question

What do the Native American stories we’ve considered have in common? Identify at least three points and give 

specific references from the stories to support your ideas.


Chapter 19 (not covered summer quarter)

Discussion Prompts: Reading 19.5 excerpts from Montaigne's On Cannibals (1580)

Before discussing the reading:

1. Identify important movements, trends, discoveries, figures, and 

inventions that defined the period in which Montaigne wrote. 

2. Look up the definition of the term "barbarism."

Now focus on the reading: 

3. Why does Montaigne trust the knowledge of the man he presents in the first paragraph of the reading?

4. What does Montaigne say about direct experience compared to conjecture?

5. What does Montaigne indicate about the word "barbarian"?

6. How does Montaigne contrast the "natural" world and the "civilized" world?

7. How does Montaigne evaluate the practice of cannibalism in the society he describes? How does he 

compare it to certain European practices?

8. What does Montaigne's declaration that "we may well call these people barbarians, in respect of the rules of 

reason" tell us about whether he believes in moral absolutes?  (i.e. Moral absolutism is an ethical view that 

particular actions are intrinsically right or wrong, irrespective of culture.)

9. "'Each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice,' writes Montaigne. What illustrations does he 

offer? Does this claim hold true in our own day and age?" (Fiero, p.496)

10. Analyze how Montaigne set up his argument. What similarities do you notice between Montaigne's style of 

argument and Christine de Pisan's?

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