Schedule of Readings, Assignments, and Topics                                                        Instructions for Formal Writings

Required Texts                                                    Course Requirements                      General Policies

History 1113 - Fall 2008

Early World History, Prehistory to 1400

Section 0728: TTH, 9:30-10:45 a.m.; Room: Sciences Complex 103

Section 0729: TTh, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Room: Sciences Complex 101

Instructor: Doug Catterall
Office: 634 South Shepler Tower
Office Hours: TTh, 1-2 and 3:30-4:30 p.m.; W,  10 a.m.-12 p.m.; and by appointment.
work telephone: 581-2949


Goals and Approach:

As its title suggests, the purpose of this course is to give you a broad background in world historical events that unfolded from the emergence of human beings as a species to the late 14th century, the era in which human societies began to link the globe together using the world's oceans. I intend the course to familiarize you with the big picture while at the same time giving you the opportunity to look at some societies in depth.

Obviously with a task so large at hand and only one semester to work with, we will need some organizing principles and main themes to guide us. The most central concept in this course is that of culture. Rather than nations or peoples (though we will use these terms as well), this course emphasizes thinking about societies in terms of what people at all levels of all societies have done and do every day to get on. Thus while we must not and cannot ignore events, we will look at events in the context of a culture's development, rather than simply studying the events for their own sake. To understand past cultures in this course we will do two things: 1) look at how they developed practices and institutions to sustain themselves (traditions) and 2) examine their response to problems and their relationships with other cultures and peoples (i.e. their place in the world). Though we will quite literally cover the world in this term, we will give most of our attention to the places where most of the world's peoples were interacting: Eurasia and Africa.

In addition to learning about past societies and how they worked, the purpose of this course is also to teach you some skills that historians (and many who are not historians such as lawyers, doctors, and computer scientists) use all the time: critical thinking and critical reading; writing and effective oral communication; and interpretation.

To see the CU General Education Skills this course emphasizes click on the hypetext in this sentence.

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Textbook (Required):

J.R. McNeill and William H. McNeill, The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004)

Reader (Required):

Kevin Reilly, ed., Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, edited by Kevin Reilly, 3rd edition, Volume I: to 1550 (New York & Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007)

Primary Sources and Other Materials (Required):

Stewart Gordon, When Asia was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the "Riches of the East" (Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press, 2008)

Web Sources (Some Required, Some Optional): Finally I will link sources and also helpful web sites to the online syllabus.  Sometimes I will ask you to analyze these. At other times the web site in question is merely provided to give you additional useful information but is not required reading.  The list of assignments below will clarify which sites must be read.  Please note, that where a ** appears next to a web-site address (URL) the site in question may not be in the public domain and you may be in violation of copyright if you download and print off pages from the site.  In these cases please read through the material and take notes, but you are not advised to print off the materials.

All of the above readings (apart from the textbook) will be required for the course and (with the exception of the online materials) are available at the CU bookstore (though I do not require that you buy them there) and all are essential to the course so do purchase them.  With a few exceptions all web-based source materials will be available at the following web-site:, an internet site that provides a variety of internet source-books. Feel free to explore the site if you wish.

On-line Reference Books and Helpful Resources:You may find that you have questions that the readings, lectures, and class activities do not answer. As you know, this course does not have a standard textbook. I chose not to use such a textbook mainly to save students money as textbooks are generally $50 or more per copy when new. Nevertheless, I understand (and am happy to hear) if there are things you want to look up and do not think you ought to have to make a trip to the campus library for a simple reference check. For these I would recommend using the online resources below by clicking on the appropriate hypertext following this sentence:

Columbia Encyclopedia and more!:
Encarta (n.b. this is the free version, so you only have access to some of what Encarta offers):

Please note, you may also access Encylopedia Britannica through the CU Library's Homepage but to do this off-campus you will need an authorization code from the CU Library staff.

CIA Factbook (country maps for geographic placement):**

There is also a web-site that accompanies the textbook, and which anyone can use if you find it helpful.  The web contains an extensive glossary, other learning aids, and many many web sites with extra information on the topics covered in the course.  The web site can be found by clicking on the hypertext following this sentence:

A tutorial on using web-based primary sources as well as some guides to those sources:

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Course work consists of three major elements: participation in classroom and online discussions as well as class activities, formal writings, and quizzes and examinations.

Participation (150 points):
a. Attendance (100 points) : Except during the day occupied by the Role-Playing Game in November, its preparation days, and the first and last regular day of class, you will receive 4 points for every COMPLETE class that you attend for a total of 100 points.  No partial credit will be given.  You were either in class for the full time or you were not, and no excuses will be accepted.  In addition, should this be necessary, I will add enough points to everyone's score to make it possible for each individual to gain 100 points if he or she attends all sessions of class.

b. Discussion (40 points): Participation in discussion is required.  I will gauge your discussion grade by your performance on particular days indicated with a *** in the schedule of assignments and readings.  On these days you can earn up to 4 points beyond your attendance mark for a total of 40 points over the course of the semester.

c. Informal Writings (up to 20 points): Occasionally I may assign short writing exercises to help focus our discussions.  These are extra-credit opportunities.  They are offered solely at the instructor's discretion and only to the class as a whole, NOT on an individual basis. 

d. Online Discussion (40 points): Beginning in week two or three, and each week thereafter for the rest of the semester, you will have the opportunity to participate in online discussion.  You can earn up to 5 points of participation credit for each week in which you make at least three contributions to the discussion board spread across two discussion threads.  You can earn a maximum of 40 participation points for the semester in this way.  I will start things off with two discussion threads in week two.  In order to count, contributions need to be posted within a calendar week, i.e. by Saturday.  Remember, you need to participate in multiple threads to gain maximum credit.  Also, don't repeat anything that's already been said and plan your comments carefully and be thorough.  Finally, use proper etiquette.  Don't write anything you would not state aloud in class, i.e. among polite company.

Instructions for accessing the discussion board may be found by clicking on the hyptext in this sentence.

e. Credit for Participation: A perfect scorce in participation is 150 points, meaning that an A requires 135 points, a B 120 points, a C 105 points, a D 90 points, with anything below that an F.

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b. Formal Writings:

Reaction Papers (300 points): You will have to write four reaction papers in this course, each of which will be based on an online source or one of the three major outside readings for the course.  Each of these papers will be worth 100 points and I will drop the lowest score.  All papers must be double-spaced, typed, and in Times New Roman font with a 12-pt. pitch (type-size).  In addition, all papers must be footnoted using the style appropriate to historical work, which means that the MLA parenthetical style will not be acceptable.  If you want a general tutorial on footnoting using a computer see: general guidelines.  Detailed instructions for the different papers may be found by clicking on the title of each of the works that will be used for the different papers, but please note that ALL reaction papers must be submitted online through a portal managed by Turn It In (I will provide instructions on how this is to be done):

Paper #1: A Collection of Mesopotamian Laws
Paper #2: Worlds of History: Whose Athens? (follow the instructions for Paper #2c)
Paper #3:When Asia was the World (follow the instructions for Paper #3b)
Paper #4:Defining Your Own Intercultural Zone (follow the instructions for Paper # 4c).

Quizzes and Final Examination (300 points):

Quizzes (150 points):  There will be 4 quizzes, each of which is worth 50 points. The quizzes, which will entail analytical writing, will increase in complexity as the term progresses and will prepare you for the final examination.  I will drop the lowest of your three quiz scores.

Final Examination (150 points): There will be a comprehensive final examination consisting of short-answer and essay components.

Grading Standards: General guidelines for my Grading standards for all written work (including the reaction papers listed above) are available by clicking the hypertext in this sentence. Guidelines specific to a given writing assignment, quiz, or examination are available in on-line descriptions/review sheets.

Grading Breakdown:

Course Component
Component Point Value
Reaction Papers
Final Examination
Total of All Categories

Calculation of your mark: In this course 750 points is a perfect score.  Thus an A requires a minimum of 675 points, a B at least 600 points, a C at least 525 points, a D at least 450 points.  Anyone earning less than 450 points fails the course and earns a mark of F.

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General Policies:

Classroom Environment: Talking to your classmates or others outside the context of classroom activities is rude and will not be tolerated.  Reading outside materials, listening to music, taking telephone calls on your cell-phone, and similar non-class related activities are equally unacceptable.  I expect all students to be respectful of one another's right to speak and express opinions.  Disagreements and different viewpoints are welcome, but debates should not involve insults.  Finally, food and drink are permitted in class as long as courtesy is observed; e.g. if you haven't quite finished your cup of coffee, do bring it along to class, but turning the classroom into a cafeteria is not permissible.  Please note that this last policy is subject to revision depending on the rules imposed by the university for the use of each specific classroom.

Attendance: As noted above, regular attendance is crucial to your success in this class.  If you miss class regularly, your grade will suffer.  I would also like to note that frequent lateness in coming to class and frequent early departures will also be penalized as these habits are rude to your fellow classmates and to me as the instructor.  I will take attendance daily in this class and an absence is an absence and will be counted as such.  

Preparation: All assignments, whether reading or writing, for a given day are to be completed before the class meets on that day.  I also recommend that you take notes as you read and during lectures and dicussions as this will make studying for the quizzes and writing the papers for the class less of a challenge.

E-mail: I communicate a lot via e-mail, but I use Blackboard to do so.  It is your responsibility to register yourself on the class Blackboard web-site once it is up.  If you do not do so all e-mail messages from me will go to your CU e-mail account.  If this acceptable then just make sure you consult that account regularly.  If you prefer to have e-mail from me sent to another account, then go to the class Blackboard web-site.  Click the tools tab on the left-hand side of the course site.  Then select "Personal Information."  Next select "Edit Personal Information" and make the appropriate changes and click "OK" when done.  If you wish to specify whether or not people can see your e-mail return to the "Tools" page and select "Set Privacy Options" and click "OK" when you are finished.  When finished with the changes to your personal information click "OK" on the Personal Information page to complete the changes.

For those not aware of the basics of accessing student e-mail please read the following: "Student email accounts and other services may be found at The User Name Construction link provides information about user names and passwords. Students should check their Cameron email regularly regardless of whether or not they have other email accounts. A student who wishes to be contacted at an address other than Cameron email should be sure to keep a current preferred address on record in MyCU."

Paper Submission Procedure: All papers receiving academic grades (i.e. reaction papers or formal writings) for this course will be submitted via the CU Turn It In portal.  Instructions for how to do this will be forthcoming in good time for the submission of the first paper.  No paper submission of such work will be acceptable so do not ask.

Late Papers/Formal Writings: The following policy applies to all late papers or formal writings for this course that will receive a letter grade. All papers submitted at any time on the day that the paper is due will be considered on time. Papers submitted after that date, no matter what the reason may be, will be automatically marked down one grade. You will then have seven days from the original due date to turn in the paper. If in that time you are unable to complete the work, the paper will receive a zero.

Late Informal Writings: As they are extra credit, no late informal writings will be accepted, so don't ask. Remember, though, that your participation grade is a composite of your performance in class, discussion-board participation, and your performance on informal writings. As long as you manage to achieve the points sufficient for the participation mark you desire, it will not matter to me how you do so. Although I will obviously keep track of what you do by way of participation I would advise you to remain aware of where you stand for yourself so that you know whether or not you are achieving the necessary level of participation for which you are aiming.

Missed Quizzes and Examinations: As noted above, there are a number of quizzes for this course. There will be no make-ups for quizzes. I will, however, drop your lowest quiz score, so if you happen to miss a quiz, I will only count the scores on the other four quizzes that you do take.  A make-up for the final examination is granted to the student solely at the instructor's discretion and only with a legitimate (e.g. a medical emergency) and documented reason.

Academic Dishonesty: Each student is expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach.  Students are expected to maintain complete honesty
and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism, will be subject to disciplinary action.  Additional information is provided in the Cameron University Code of Student Conduct per Section 4.07 of the CU Student Handbook: "Each student is expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach.  Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty¦ will be subject to disciplinary action."  For examples of academic dishonesty please see the full version of Section 4.07 at:

Among the most serious offenses a student can commit is plagiarism, which is the representation of the work of another as your own. In all of the writing you do for this course you must make clear to me which ideas in a paper are your own and which come from someone else. This is especially important for any formal essays you write. In such essays you must cite all primary and secondary sources you use in accordance with the proper conventions.  Instructions on the basics of citation may be found under the general guidelines for papers and can and should be consulted before any formal essays come due.  If for some reason you do not choose to examine this page, know that you will not be exempt from following its guidelines.  In cases of plagiarism, the Department of History and Government at CU follows the plagiarism policy in the current "Student Handbook," as described in Sections 4.07 and 4.08 of the CU Code of Student Conduct.  Penalties for plagiarism as defined by the Student Code of Conduct include:

1) The student may be required to perform additional academic work/project not required of other students in the course;

2) The student may be required to withdraw from the course with a grade of "W" or "F"; or

3) The student's grade in the course or on the examination or other academic work affected by the dishonesty may be reduced to any extent, including a reduction to failure. 

Please heed this warning as I am quite serious about it.

Disability Statement: As per the Office of Student Development, "It is the policy of Cameron University to accommodate students with disabilities, pursuant to federal and state law.  Students with disabilities who need classroom accommodations must make their requests by contacting the Office of Student Development at (580) 581-2209, North Shepler Room 314."

Website for this office:

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Schedule of Readings, Lecture Topics, Assignments, and Activities

Click on the unit or week for which you wish to access details.

Weeks 1-2: From Prehistory to History: the Emergence of Human Societies

Weeks 2-4: Interchange in the Ancient World, 5000 B.C.E.-500 B.C.E.
B.C.E. = Before Common Era

Weeks 5-10: The Classical Period 500 B.C.E.-500 C.E.

Weeks 11-16: The Rise of the Muslim World, 500-1400 (C.E.)

Weeks 16-17: Review and Final Examination

Please note, the syllabus is subject to change if I judge that this is necessary
and that the web-syllabus is the syllabus of record.

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