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California State University, Fresno

Department of History


Dr. Maritere López   Office: Social Science Bldg. 120
Office hours: T/Th 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.   Phone #: 278-6021


Course Description:            The aim of this course is to examine the nature and developments of world

history to approximately 1500 C.E. We will concentrate on two broad themes: 1) man's relationship to nature and the divine, that is, science and religion; and 2) man's relationship to other men, in terms of political norms, social order, and selective cross-cultural borrowing/rejection (acculturation). To investigate these topics efficiently, the course is divided into six modules, each focusing on two geographical areas explored in turn. For each module, we then turn our attention to a bridge experience or theme, broadening our examination to encompass the ways in which peoples across the globe interacted with, reacted to, and learned from one another.

For Student Learning Outcomes, see pp. 6-7 below.

Required readings: All required books are available at the Kennel Bookstore.

Duiker, William J and Jackson J. Spielvogel. World History to 1500, 5th edition. United States:

Wadsworth, 2007.

Mascaro, Juan, trans. The Bhagavad-Gita. London, New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

Note: Several additional required readings are available solely through our BlackBoard site. These readings include:

For Module #1:           

— Selections from The Epic of Gilgamesh. N.K. Sandars, trans. New York: Penguin Books, 1972.
— Selections from The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Available at Internet Ancient History Sourcebook (
— Selections from The Book of Genesis. Available at Exploring Ancient World Cultures (

For Module #2

— Selections from Confucius' Analects. Available at Internet East Asian History Sourcebook (
— Foltz, Richard C. "Buddhism and the Silk Road." In Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 37-59. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999.

For Module #3

— Selections from Homer's The Odyssey. Robert Fagles, trans. London, New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
— Selections from Virgil's The Aeneid. Available at Internet Ancient History Sourcebook (
— Selections from Plutarch's Life of Alexander. Available at Internet Ancient History Sourcebook (

For Module #4

— Selections from Al-Bakari's Descriptions of Ghana. Available at Boston University's Africa Studies Center website (
— Selections from Al-Umari's Description of Mansa Musa's 1324 Visit to Cairo. Available at Boston University's African Studies Center website (
— Selections from The Q'uran.
— Selections from Abû Ûthmân al-Jâhiz's The Essays (Arab Muslim views on the Zanj, Black Africans). Available at Internet Medieval History Sourcebook (

For Module #5

— Selections from The New Testament.
— Selections from The Song of Roland. Dorothy L. Sayers, trans. New York: Penguin, 1957.
— Selections from "A Christian/Moslem Debate of the Twelfth Century." Available at The Internet Medieval Sourcebook (

For Module #6

— Alberti, Leon Battista. "Self-Portrait of a Universal Man." In James B. Ross and Mary M. McLaughlin, eds. The Portable Renaissance Reader, 480-492. New York: Penguin, 1953.
— Selections from Christopher Columbus's Journal of the First Voyage to America. Available at Internet Medieval History Sourcebook (
— Selections from Amerigo Vespucci's Letters. Available at Internet Modern History Sourcebook (
— Selections from The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Miguel Leon-Portilla, ed. And Lysander Kemp, trans. Boston: Beacon Press: 1962.

Course Policies:

I realize that many of you are taking more than one class and are probably working as well. However, enrolling in this course means that you and I have a contractual obligation to one another: I am obligated to teach you to the best of my ability, to be available during office hours, and to answer your questions whenever possible; you are obligated to complete the readings and writing assignments in a timely manner, and to participate actively in the process of learning. The course policies were designed with this in mind, and include:

Specific instructions for each assignment will be made available in class. However, general guidelines are as follows:

— Attendance

Attendance in this course is absolutely critical, especially because class lectures are not solely based on your textbook. Since all exams and paper assignments will be based on my lectures and class discussions, missing class will surely lead to a failing grade in the course. You are allowed only three (3) absences without penalty. After that, your final grade will decrease by 50 points with every absence. For example, if you miss five classes during the session and your cumulative grade was an 840, you will receive a C (790) for your final grade.

— Participation

Your participation is crucial to the success of this course.  Therefore, you are expected to 'chip in' as much as possible, both in discussion sessions and lectures.  Note: coming to class is NOT enough.  You must have read and critically thought about the material, and must be willing to participate in class discussion.  Shyness is not an excuse; learning to share your ideas is part of the exercise!  Note: if you are not prepared for class (i.e. if you have not done the readings or thought critically about them), you will be asked to leave the room - and this will count as an absence!

Participating successfully does not mean knowing all the answers; it means engaging the material to the best of your ability at all times. You may, of course, answer questions either I or your classmates pose. However, asking relevant questions, presenting pertinent arguments that link the materials covered, and/or any other appropriate expression of your engagement of the material counts towards participation.

Your active participation in the learning process is of such importance that Participation counts for 200 points. Yes, it counts twice as much as any other assignment! For specifics, see the Participation Rubric (available on BlackBoard).

— Exams

You will have to take two online exams. These exams are meant to test your knowledge of basic historical facts and debates. Since all other course assignments measure your analytical understanding of the course's themes through written essays, these exams are solely composed of multiple choice questions. However, please be aware that the questions are not always simple and/or basic! Pay particular attention in class to comparative data and historiographical considerations.

Exam dates are noted in the Schedule (handed out separately).

Each exam will consist of twenty-five multiple choice questions. Each exam will account for 100 points of your final grade. I will make a review sheet available on BlackBoard in advance of each test date.

Exams are timed. You will have one hour to complete the multiple choice and identifications. For each minute beyond the allotted sixty, you will be penalized 5 points. You must complete the exam by the designated time, after which the exam will be automatically removed. EXAMS NOT COMPLETED ON TIME WILL RECEIVE A GRADE OF ZERO.

— Comparative Assignments

As part of your course requirements, you must also complete six short comparative assignments. I will hand out separately specific instructions for each assignment, but general guidelines are as follows:

1.      As per the very descriptive title of this section, your essays must be comparative. This means that you must first analyze critically each assigned source individually, and then evaluate it in the context of the other sources for the module.
2.      Remember to think of the sources in the context of our lectures and discussions. What sort of issues have we been investigating? What sort of theme are we probing? Think of the ways in which the sources reflect the myriad ways in which cultures and societies interact with and learn from one another.
3.      It is crucial to answer the unspoken "So what?" What does the comparison of the sources tell us about each of the cultures/societies studied, and what do they tell us about World History more generally?
4.      All comparative assignments are to be submitted in correct essay form, with an introduction and thesis, body, and conclusion.
5.      Essays should be 2-3 pages in length, in 12 pt. font and with 1-inch margins. Give yourself sufficient time and space to develop and prove your arguments. Don't cheat yourself for the sake of saving a page of work!
6.      To support your assertions about the assigned readings, you must correctly quote from and annotate them. Remember: when in doubt, annotate! For correct annotation style, see the Footnote "Cheat Sheet" (available on BlackBoard)

For information on assignment grading, see the Assignment Grading Rubric (also available on BlackBoard).


— Grading Scale



Possible Points

Exam #1


Exam #2


Comparative Analysis:

Flood Stories


Comparative Analysis:

Statues of the Buddha


Comparative Analysis:

Ancient Western Heroisms


Comparative Analysis:

African Trade Maps


Comparative Analysis:

Christian and Moslem Views


Comparative Analysis:

European and Aztec Views of Conquest




Total Possible Points


1000 - 900 = A
899 - 800 = B
799 - 700 = C
699 - 600 = D
599 - 0 = F

Late papers and missed exams:

Let me reiterate: exams and comparative assignments must be completed/submitted on time (as designated on the schedule below). I WILL NOT ACCEPT LATE ASSIGNMENTS. Failure to complete an assignment will result in a grade of zero for the assignment.

The exception to the rule above is failure to complete an assignment due to a serious and unavoidable cause, such as a documented medical condition or family emergency. In such cases, I will assign you a new due-date.

Office hours:

I will be available for consultation during regular office hours, as listed above. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions, ask for clarifications, or just to chat: using office hours will allow you to get a better feel for the class and will give you the opportunity to make sure what I expect from you and what you understand I expect from you are the same thing!

University Policies:

This class will follow University guidelines as described in the University Catalog.

Academic honesty:

Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses that could have extremely serious consequences such as probation, suspension, or expulsion from the University. At the very least, cheating in this class will result in an immediate F for the assignment, and such cases will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

As defined in University's Policies webpage (, "cheating is the actual or attempted practice of fraudulent or deceptive acts for the purpose of improving a grade or obtaining course credit. Typically, such acts occur in relation to examinations. It is the intent of this definition that the term cheating not be limited to examinations situations only, but that it include any and all actions by a student that are intended to gain an unearned academic advantage by fraudulent or deceptive means." Cheating includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism. This is "a specific form of cheating that consists of the misuse of the published and/or unpublished works of others by misrepresenting the material so used as one's own work."

Remember: Using someone else's work without giving them credit (that is, annotating) is plagiarism. This includes downloading information from the Internet and presenting it as your own, as well as getting someone else to write a paper or assignment for you.

Students with Disabilities:

Upon identifying themselves to me and to the university, students with disabilities will receive reasonable accommodation for learning and evaluation. For more information, contact Services to Students with Disabilities in Madden Library 1049 (278-2811).

Disruptive Behavior:

You are expected to be respectful of the professor and your classmates. Pagers, cellular phones, and personal stereo systems must be turned off and put away prior to the beginning of class. Talking to your classmates while I am trying to lecture is unacceptable. Reading the newspaper or any material not related to class is also unacceptable. The use of any tobacco products is prohibited by law, and smoking or chewing tobacco are not allowed in the classroom. If you do not comply with the regulations above, you will be asked to leave the room and will be held responsible for any material you might have missed. For further information on what is considered disruptive behavior in the classroom, see the University Policy on Disruptive Classroom Behavior (APM 419).


"At California State University, Fresno, computers and communications links to remote resources are recognized as being integral to the education and research experience. Every student is required to have his/her own computer or have other personal access to a workstation (including a modem and a printer) with all of the recommended software….In the curriculum and class assignments, students are presumed to have 24 hour access to a computer workstation and the necessary communications links to the University's information resources." (From the University Catalog)

Copyright policy:

Copyright laws and fair use policies protect the rights of those who have produced the material. The copy in this course has been provided for private study, scholarship, or research. Other uses may require permission from the copyright holder. The user of this work is responsible for adhering to copyright law of the U.S. (Title 17, U.S. Code). To help you familiarize yourself with copyright and fair use policies, the University encourages you to visit its copyright we page.

Digital Campus course web sites contain material protected by copyrights held by the instructor, other individuals or institutions. Such material is used for educational purposes in accord with copyright law and/or with permission given by the owners of the original material. You may download one copy of the materials on any single computer for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes only, provided that you (1) do not modify it, (2) use it only for the duration of this course, and (3) include both this notice and any copyright notice originally included with the material. Beyond this use, no material from the course web site may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted or transmitted or distributed in any way without the permission of the original copyright holder. The instructor assumes no responsibility for individuals who improperly use copyrighted material placed on the web site.

Student Learning Outcomes:

1. General Education Fulfillment:

This course fulfills the requirement for Area D, Social Science (D3), which aims to help students analyze and understand the basic principles underlying human social behavior. Students successfully completing courses in Area D3 will be able to:

A. Apply the methodologies and analytical concepts necessary to evaluate society today and promote more effective participation in the human community; and
B. Explain the influence of major social, cultural, economic and political forces on societal behavior and institutions; or
C. Demonstrate an understanding of different cultures and ethnic diversity through the use of comparative methods and cross-cultural perspectives.

2. Development of writing, communication and critical thinking skills:

This class fulfills the University's General Education Program by encouraging the development of student's communication and writing skills and by fostering disciplined thinking and sustained reflection on complex questions. Every lower division general education course requires that students write and submit formal essays of at least 2,000 words (approximately 7-8 double spaced typed pages). According to university policy, this portion of your grade may be distributed among several written assignments. This course will also challenge you to conduct high-level discussions related to the discipline of history.

3. Historical literacy and knowledge in the following broad subject areas:

At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

— Trace the impact of physical geography on ancient civilizations, especially the use of water and the potential for invasion (Content Domain for Subject Understanding 1.1.1).
— Identify the intellectual contributions, artistic forms, and traditions (including the religious beliefs) of these civilizations (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 1.1.2)
— Recognize patterns of trade and commerce that influenced these civilizations (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 1.1.3)
— Trace the decline of the Western Roman Empire and the development of feudalism as a social and economic system in Europe and Japan (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 1.2.2).
— Discuss the role of Christianity in medieval and early modern Europe, its expansion beyond Europe (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 1.2.5).
— Discuss the role of Islam and its impact on Arabia, Africa, Europe and Asia (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 1.2.6)
— Identify the patterns of the early modern Age of Discovery

4. Critical Thinking and Writing Skills:

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to

— Describe the cultural, historical, economic and political characteristics of world regions, including human features of the regions such as population, land use patterns and settlement patterns (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 4.5) .
— Analyze interpret and evaluate research evidence in history and the social sciences (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 4.7).
— Interpret primary and secondary sources, including written documents, narratives, photographs, art and artifacts revealed through archeology (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 4.8).
— Assess textbooks and contrast differing points of view on historic and current events in relation to confirmed research evidence (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 4.9).
— Identify and discuss in the interpretation of historical and current events multiple causes and effects (Content Domain for Subject Matter Understanding 4.10).

5. Specialized historical knowledge for Liberal Studies Majors:

In successfully completing the assigned readings, lectures, quizzes, examinations and essays for this course, students will analyze and understand historical subjects comprising nearly all of the specific sixth- and seventh-grade content standards that are required knowledge for all history and social science teachers in California's public schools. This will especially benefit student participating in CSU Fresno's Liberal Studies Program. In order to avoid needless repetition of the grade-specific standards, this syllabus will indicate by number the content standards covered each week of the course in the Tentative Course Schedule. Liberal Studies students may obtain the grade-specific standards covered in this course by visiting the website of the California Department of Education, which is available at

Follow the links to the sixth-grade and eighth-grade content standards that are referenced in this syllabus. You will not be able to understand the content standard's numbering system without referencing the California Department of Education's website.

6.      Technology.

At the conclusion of this course students will have used a variety of word processing programs, some kind of presentation software, Blackboard, and Internet resources. Students should have a basic familiarity with the operation of the programs as well as their uses in obtaining historical information.

California Department of Education Sixth and Seventh Grade Content Standards

Duiker and Spielvogel, World History to 1400: Table of Contents Correlated to Content Standards

Part I: The First Civilizations and the Rise of Empires

Chapter 1: The First Civilizations: The People of Western Asia and Egypt

The First Humans
The Hunter-Gatherers of the Old Stone Age
The Agricultural Revolution
The Emergence of Civilization
Civilization in Mesopotamia
Egyptian Civilization: "The Gift of the Nile"
New Centers of Civilization
The Rise of New Empires

Domain 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3

Chapter 2: Ancient India

Background to the Emergence of Civilization in India
Harappan Civilization: A Fascinating Enigma
The Arrival of the Aryans
Escaping the Wheel of Life: The Religious World of Ancient India
The Rule of the Fishes: India after the Mauryas
The Exuberant World of Indian Culture

            Domain 1.2.2, 1.2.6, 1.1.2

Chapter 3: China in Antiquity

The Land and People of China
The Dawn of Chinese Civilization: The Shang Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty
The Rise of the Chinese Empire: The Qin and the Han
Daily Life in Ancient China
The World of Culture

Chapter 4: The Civilization of the Greeks

Early Greece
The Greeks in a Dark Age (c. 1100 – c. 750 B.C.E.)
The World of the Greek City-States (c. 750 – c. 500 B.C.E.)
The High Point of Greek Civilization: Classical Greece
The Rise of Macedonia and the Conquests of Alexander
The World of the Hellenistic Kingdoms
Culture in the Hellenistic World

Domain 1.2.1

Chapter 5: The Roman World

The Emergence of Rome
The Roman Republic
The Roman Conquest of the Mediterranean (264 – 133 B.C.E.)
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Republic (133 – 31 B.C.E.)
The Age of Augustus (31 B.C.E. – 14 C.E.)
The Early Empire (14 – 180)
Culture and Society in the Roman World
Religion in the Roman World: The Rise of Christianity

Domain 1.2.2

Part II: New Patterns of Civilization

Chapter 6: The New World

The First Americans
Early Civilization in Central America
The First Civilizations on South America
Stateless Societies in the New World

Chapter 7: The World of Islam

The Rise of Islam
The Teachings of Muhammad
The Arab Empire and its Successors
Islamic Civilization

Domain 1.2.6

Chapter 8: Early Civilizations in Africa

The Land
The Emergence of Civilization
The Coming of Islam
East Africa and the Indian Ocean Trade
State Building in West Africa
States and Stateless Societies in Southern Africa
Aspects of African Society
Religious Beliefs in Traditional Africa
African Culture

Domain 1.2.6

Chapter 9: The Expansion of Civilization in Southern Asia

India from the Mauryas to the Mughals
The Golden Region: Early Southeast Asia

Chapter 10: From the Tang to the Mongols: The Flowering of Traditional China

China after the Han
China Reunified: The Sui, the Tang, and the Song
Explosion in Central Asia: The Mongol Empire
The Ming Dynasty
In Search of the Way (Buddhism and Daoism)
The Apogee of Chinese Culture

Domain 1.2.1, 1.2.5, 1.2.6, 1.2.8

Chapter 11: The East Asian Rimlands: Early Japan, Korea, and Vietnam

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun
Vietnam: The Smaller Dragon

Chapter 12: The Making of Europe and the World of the Byzantine Empire, 500-1300

The Transformation of the Roman World
The World of Feudalism
The Growth of European Kingdoms
The World of the Peasants
The New World of Trade and Cities
Christianity and Medieval Civilization
The Intellectual and Artistic World of the High Middle Ages
The Byzantine Empire and the Crusades

Domain 1.2.5, 1.2.6, 1.2.8

Chapter 13: Crisis and Rebirth: Europe in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

A Time of Trouble: Black Death and Social Crisis
Political Instability and Political Renewal
The Decline of the Church
Meaning and Characteristics of the Italian Renaissance
Social Changes in the Renaissance
The Intellectual Renaissance in Italy
The Artistic Renaissance

* I reserve the right to modify this syllabus. You will be notified of all changes, and will be given notice with enough time to complete your assignments as required. If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to check on announcements made while you were absent.



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