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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robin C Stacey
HSTAM 332
Seattle Campus

Central Middle Ages

Europe in the central Middle Ages: culture of cathedrals and universities, formation of national states, development of urban society.

Class description

A survey of western European history between 1000-1300 of the Common Era. Topics and themes include the relationship between church and state, and between religion and politics; the rise of the state; women and gender; the "persecuting society" and attitudes towards social and religious minorities; medieval court culture; the crusades over the course of two quarters. This is a W course. The course will culminate in a game called "Reacting to the Past," the idea for which was originally developed for students at Barnard and Columbia. Reacting to the Past games are designed to immerse students in the complexities of an actual historical situation by asking them to make decisions, enter into negotiations, forge compromises, and devise strategies designed to enable them to achieve their character's primary objectives. The focus for the game this quarter will be the dramatic showdown in 1302 between two of the greatest figures in Christendom, King Phillip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII.

Student learning goals

Students should acquire a reasonably detailed knowledge of the main political, social, cultural, and intellectual developments in medieval Europe between c. 1000-1300 C.E.

Learning how to read and analyze primary texts: reading between the lines and thinking about how historians account for personal bias (both their own and the author's) in making use of that evidence

Practice in developing good historical questions and in marshalling the sources that will allow one to answer them

Learning the various steps of writing a persuasive historical essay: how to organize an argument, how to support that argument from primary sources, how to integrate secondary historical literature into one's own argument, how to write introductions and conclusions, how to articulate transitions, how to outline

Learn to edit and comment on the work of others in workshop format

Teamwork and negotiating strategies, the art of persuasive communication (oral and written), leadership.

General method of instruction

With the exception of the final week, when all sessions will be devoted to the game, I plan to lecture three days a week, use Fridays for slide lectures, movies, or exams, and use Thursdays for discussions of primary source readings. Discussion is an essential part of the course, and will count a significant percentage of the grade. Readings will be 100-150 pages a week, including textbook and primary sources. In addition to class meetings and discussions, students will be asked to write two papers and do a final exam.

Recommended preparation

An entry level survey course in medieval history is recommended, but not required.

Class assignments and grading

In addition to class meetings and discussions, students will be asked to write two short primary source papers (3-4 pages and 6-8), the first of which will have a mandatory rewrite. Rough drafts of the first paper will be commented on by peers in an in-class writer's workshop, and students will then use those comments to produce a final graded draft of each paper. Students will have a choice for the second paper: either another 3-4 page primary source paper with mandatory rewrite, or a 6-8 page research paper developing the character they will assume in the game. In addition, all students will complete a short (2 page maximum) written version of their oral presentation for the game.

Discussion; two short papers, one with a mandatory rewrite; a short character summary and presentation; a final exam. Participation in a writers' workshop and in the Reacting to the Past game.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Robin C Stacey
Date: 12/31/2013