Carol G Thomas
Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.
Cleopatra VII: "Antiquity's Most Controversial Woman." Why?
The seminar will search for the person behind the legend in four main ways: understanding the historical context of Cleopatra's life and position as the Last Pharaoh of Egypt; examining in detail her role as ruler of Egypt; identifying the woman behind the legend by reading vastly differing accounts of her; reaching a conclusion about the question of why Cleopatra VII is antiquity's most controversial woman.
Student learning goals
Understand the nature and problems of working with primary sources;
Reconcile different conclusion of secondary sources;
Appreciate the role of an individual in historical change;
Explore forces at work in an individual's life and career;
Debate your conclusions with conclusions of others;
Expand your writing skills.
General method of instruction
After introductory discussion on the framework of this period of history and sources available for study, most of the meetings will be seminars of collective contributions.
Some knowledge of ancient Greek history is useful but is not a prerequisite. More important are a desire to practice the skills of being an historian, a readiness to attend and participate actively in every class, and some curiosity about Cleopatra VII.
Class assignments and grading
Class format in participatory sharing of information and opinions. The role of the instructor will be more prominent at the start but will yield to presentations of members of the seminar as the quarter progresses. Students will write four short analytical papers (ca. 3-5 pages) and one longer capstone essay drawing together the answers to the basic question of the seminar - Why is she antiquity's most controversial woman?
Grades are based on written work and on participation in the seminar - not only attendance but contribution to discussion. This is a writing course.