Humanities 2113
The Humanities in Early Western Culture


Richard A. Voeltz, Ph.D.
Professor of History and Humanities
Department of History and Humanities)




West Hall 216

Office Phone:

(580) 581-2493, or History Department (580) 581-2499

Office Hours:

MWF 10:00 am -12:00 Noon; TTH 2:00-4:00 pm


Matthews and Platt, The Western Humanities, Volume I, Third Edition
Wildhaber, Engelberg, and Hays, Readings in the Western Humanities, Volume I, Third Edition
Hodges, Campbell, and Keene, Mayfield's Quick View Guide to the Internet

Course Description and Objectives

This course is a study of Western culture from its origins to the Renaissance with emphasis on the following themes:

  1. The relationship between the individual and the community.
  2. Changing conceptions of the Great Person or Hero.
  3. The good life, or the meaning and purpose of life.
  4. The changing importance of wealth and property.
  5. Humankind's relation to God or the gods.
  6. The Arts as reflection of a single culture or universal human conditions.
  7. The importance of legal and political institutions.
  8. The changing views of the physical cosmos and attitudes toward nature.
  9. Theories of historical causation and developmen
  10. The daily lives of men, women and children from all walks of life.

In addition, this course is primarily organized to provide you with a broader exposure to the humanities than is the case in conventional humanities classes. The typical humanities course is concerned with just one branch of the humanities. But this course aims at an integrated presentation of the humanities as a whole, particularly history, philosophy, religion, visual art, literature, and music. In this way, it is hoped, the humanities will be rendered more accessible, and the study of them more enriching, to students whose exposure to the humanities might otherwise be relatively limited. This course limits itself, in the main, to Western culture without denying the interest and importance of other cultures.

The course is also intended to help you develop your abilities to read, speak, write, and listen effectively and critically.

For the sake of achieving these goals, you are expected to:

  1. Read the assigned texts (specific reading assignments will be given as the course progresses).
  2. Regularly participate in class discussion.
  3. Write four in-class essay exams (tentative dates are indicated on the accompanying page). The first three exams will be worth 75% of your final grade, while the final will constitute the other 25% of your final grade. You will of course have the full two hours of the final exam period to complete your exam.

Attendance Policy

You are not required to come to class. But if you do not attend class regularly, you cannot participate in class discussion, and important material will only be presented in class. Your reward for regular class attendance will be reflected in improved exam performance.

Classroom Etiquette

Please do not hold conversations with classmates whenever the professor or another student is speaking. Also refrain from writing and passing notes or participating in other distractive behavior. Your undivided attention in class is a must. An atmosphere of mutual respect is in order. The professor reserves the right to request that you leave if you engage in disrespectful conduct.

Grading Policy

Final grades will be determined by the average of the letter grade that you receive on your exams. Normal procedure will be to have no make-up exams. However, if a student misses one of the first three exams for a valid reason, a substitute assignment will be worked out between the instructor and the student. ABSOLUTELY NO MAKE-UP FOR THE FINAL EXAM. Normally I do not provide for any extra-credit work. Students must complete the official administrative process to withdraw from this class.

Special Note

If you believe you have a disability and think you need special accommodations, please advise the professor immediately. The professor will work with you and the University's Office of Multicultural and Disabled Services to provide you with reasonable accommodations.

Tentative Schedule and Outline of Topics

Introduction to the Course/The Dawn of History

The Humanities in the Ancient Near East and Aegean Civilization

Matthews and Platt, Introduction, Why Study Cultural History? Chapters 1-2.

Readings in the Western Humanities, Vol. I: Chapters 1-2. Since the purpose of this anthology is "to bring the student into contact with as many diverse and representative voices as possible," you will be responsible for all of the reading selections in each chapter of Readings in the Western Humanities. The selections are quite brief for the most part, and some of the authors and their writings will receive close attention in class discussion, others less so. The chapters in Readings in the Western Humanities correspond directly to the chapters in your text, Matthews and Platt.

First Exam

The Humanities in Hellenic and Hellenistic Greece
Matthews and Platt, Chapters 3-4.
Readings in the Western Humanities, Vol. I: Chapters 3-4

Second Exam

The Humanities in Rome and the Byzantine Empire.
Judaism and the Rise of Christianity and Islam.
Matthews and Platt, Chapters 5-8.
Readings in the Western Humanities, Vol. I, Chapters 5-8.

Third Exam

The Early Medieval West.
The Humanities in the High and Late Middle Ages.
Matthews and Platt, Chapters 9-10, pp. 198-207.
Readings in the Western Humanities, Vol. I, Chapter 9-10.

Final Exam

Check the Final Exam Schedule.

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This page is maintained by Richard Voeltz, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1999, Cameron University.
Last updated 1/22/98.