Classical, Medieval History

Taught by Tony Boisvert

Taught by Tony Boisvert

  • historical span: ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Late Antiquity, High and Late Middle Ages
  • engage primary source texts throughout the course
  • develop research skills and produce several research papers, in addition to smaller writing assignments

Western Civ 1: The Classical and Medieval Worlds, taught by Antoine (“Tony”) Boisvert, covers the great sweep of Western history, roughly along a similar scale as the Classical Literature course, with a reading list designed to complement and reinforce the experience of both courses. How did the ancient approach the divine in Mesopotamian ziggurats, Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples, Roman forums, Byzantine basilicas, Romanesque monasteries and Gothic cathedrals? Did the ancient Greeks really invent democracy? How did the Christian church develop in the context of Jewish, Greek, and Roman society? Did its message change over time as the Roman Empire crumbled? And speaking of the Roman Empire, did it actually fall? How did the questions about God in the High Middle Ages give rise to Protestantism? How did medieval civilization come to an end—and was that end a rise or fall of its own? 

Beginning with the earliest settlements in ancient Mesopotamia, students will quickly progress to the ancient Greeks and consider the foundations of Western history, philosophy, government, ethics, historiography, science and medicine. As we delve into these topics and questions, students will constantly be doing their best to let the texts speak for themselves and trying to account for subjectivity in making historical judgments, as well as learning the discipline involved in doing original research and historical writing.