Historians are the guardians of memory.
-Warren H. Carroll
This dictum of the College’s founding president Warren H. Carroll aptly indicates the spirit and the purpose of the courses offered in the History Department. Dr. Carroll reminds us that cultures, like individuals, derive their identity in large measure from their memories. Historians are a civilization’s designated rememberers, those who introduce new generations to their heritage and encourage a vision that expands one’s awareness beyond his own age, and therefore makes him aware of the fundamental issues of human life and the ways in which different societies have grappled with them.
In particular, both in the Core Curriculum and in the Advanced Courses offered to History majors and other interested students, the History faculty at Christendom College seeks to hand on a Catholic vision of the human past. It seeks to clarify the difference made by the Incarnation in time and how its successor, the Church, has influenced history both as an institution and through the actions of its members. It therefore presents a point of view informed by the Catholic orthodoxy that engages both substantive material and historical interpretation in an effort to integrate faith and reason, and also to show the relationship in time between faith and culture.
This Catholic vision of history is what makes the History Department at Christendom distinctive. Within the context of the College, however, the department seeks to serve the broader goal of educating the whole man in Christ. As every department at Christendom seeks to develop in its students the skills fundamental to a liberal education, so also the History Department labors to pass on excellence in reading, writing, and public speaking. For these reasons, and for the breadth of cultural literacy offered by historical studies, the major in History is an excellent preparation for graduate or professional studies, teaching, and work in government and commerce.
The history major at Christendom College requires 27 credit hours of advanced courses, including Senior Seminar and Thesis (HIST 512), Historiography (HIST 399), and the following distribution requirements: one course in European History before 1500, one course in early modern history, one course in modern European History, and one course in American History. The history minor requires 18 credit hours of advanced courses. A course grade of at least C-minus is required to fulfill the requirements of the major or minor.
HIST 101 History of Western Civilization I: The Ancient and Biblical World This course presents the historical reality of Old Testament history, the rise and decline of classical Greece, and the building of the Macedonian, Hellenistic, and Roman empires, the wars of the Maccabees, the age of Herod, and the Incarnation as an historical event. Primary texts include substantial portions of the Old Testament, Plutarch’s Lives, and essays by Cicero. Required of all students.
HIST 102 History of Western Civilization II: The Formation of Christendom The course treats the rise and development of Christian Europe, from the foundation of the Church at Pentecost through the end of the Crusade to the Holy Land in 1291. Topics covered include the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the triumph of Christianity, the challenge of the great heresies and how the Church overcame them, the conversion of the barbarians, the assault of Islam, the founding of the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, and the development of medieval Christendom. Primary texts include St. Athanasius’ Life of St. Anthony, St. Augustine’s Confessions, the Rule of St. Benedict, and the Song of Roland. Required of all students.
HIST 201 History of Western Civilization III: The Division of Christendom This course treats the division of Western Europe by the rise of incipient nationalism in the late-medieval period and the Protestant revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. Topics covered include Spain and Portugal in the Age of Discovery, late-medieval religious culture, The Renaissance, the causes and character of the Protestant Revolt and the Catholic Reform, and the division of Western Europe into confessional kingdoms. Primary texts include William Langland, Piers Plowman; Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty; Francis Bacon, New Atlantis; and Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Life is a Dream. Required of all students.
HIST 202 History of Western Civilization IV: Church & World in the Modern Age This course treats the secularization and dechristianization of Europe and the rise of the culture of death. Topics covered include the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, the growth of modern science, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, the Second Vatican Council, and the Pontificate of John Paul II. Primary texts include Voltaire, Letters concerning the English Nation; Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto; Pius XI, Quas Primas; and John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae. Required of all students.
HIST 301 Art & Architecture of Rome and Florence This course studies the development of architecture and the related arts from Classical Antiquity through the Age of the Baroque as exhibited in the monuments and masterpieces of Rome and Florence. Required for all Semester-in-Rome-Program students.
HIST/CECS 309 History of Ancient Greece This course examines ancient Greek culture from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period with a special interest in the Heroic Age of Homer, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, Periclean Athens, and the establishment of Hellenistic order. This course is built around the reading and discussion of primary texts by writers such as Hesiod, Homer, Aeschylus, Thucydides, Isocrates, Aristotle, Xenophon, Polybius, and Philo. The course concludes with a reflection upon the Hellenistic influence on the Greek Fathers of the Church. (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies)
HIST/CECS 310 History of Ancient Rome This course examines ancient Roman culture from its legendary origins through the Republic and Empire to the conversion of Constantine the Great with a special emphasis on the Punic Wars, the impact of thought of Cicero on western society, the reorganization of the Roman world under Augustus, provincial life in the empire, and the chief factors leading to the transformation of Roman political power in the West. This course is built around the reading and discussion of primary texts by writers such as Cato the Elder, Polybius, Cicero, Sallust, Quintillian, Tacitus, Julian the Apostate, and Eusebius. The course concludes with a reflection on history and political life by Saint Augustine. (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies)
HIST/CECS 311 History of the Byzantine Empire This course examines late Roman and Byzantine culture from the conversion of Constantine into the Middle Ages with a special interest in the establishment of an enduring Christian empire, the impact of the Fathers on Christian culture, the Age of Justinian, the variety of Eastern Christianity, and the confrontation between Byzantium and Islam. This course is built around the reading and discussion of primary texts by writers and works such as St. Ephrem the Syrian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Libanius, St. John Chrysostom, John Cassian, The Theodosian Code, John Lydus, Procopius, George of Pisidia, St. John Damascene, the Digenis Akritas, Anna Comnena, and Demetrius Cydones. The course concludes with a reflection on the various attempts to reunite the two halves of Christendom. (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies)
HIST 312 The Medieval World A seminar treating community life, worship, and a variety of forms of artistic expression in the Latin West between the Carolingian Age and the early 16th century. Special attention is given to the contribution of Benedictine monasticism to the formation of Medieval Christian culture. Students read sources such as the Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela and the Golden Legend and works by St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Suger of St. Denis, while considering works of art ranging from icons and panel paintings to sculpture and church architecture.
HIST 322 History of Modern Britain British history from the accession of Henry VII (1485) to the present. Focus on Tudor-Stuart absolutism and the Protestant Revolt; the rise of the British Empire and industrialism; the resurgence of the Catholic Church during the Victorian period led by John Henry Newman and other converts from the Oxford Movement; Britain’s role in World War II; and the decline and disappearance of the British empire in the second half of the twentieth century.
HIST 331 History of Ireland This course examines the character of Irish Catholic culture in the Golden Age, with special emphasis on the role of the early Irish monasteries; the English penetration and conquest, and the Irish resistance culminating in the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603); the oppression and persecution of the Irish Catholics in the 17th and 18th centuries; the building of an independent Ireland; and the great emigration from Ireland since 1845.
HIST 341 American History and American Catholicism to 1860 This course combines a basic survey of American history with a detailed study of the experience of Catholics in North America. Against the background of American political history are studied such Catholic elements as early missionary activity, the development of colonial Maryland, the expansion of the American Church, Catholic immigration, and anti-Catholic prejudice.
HIST 342 American History and American Catholicism, since 1860 This course presents the development of the United States into a major industrial and world power while concurrently surveying the presence of Catholics in American life. Of particular concern are Catholic immigration from Europe, the transplanting of Catholic ethnic traditions onto American soil, the decline of Catholic identity in the face of industrialization and secularization, and the more recent phenomenon of Latin-American immigration to the United States.
HIST 351 Renaissance, Revolt, and Reformation An introduction to the intellectual history of early-modern Europe, with particular attention to Martin Luther’s new theology, the variations of the Protestant churches, and Catholic responses to the heresy of salvation by faith alone. Figures or topics to be studied include Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, the Council of Trent, and St. John of the Cross.
HIST 352 The Enlightenment and its Critics The Enlightenment, as the attempt of European and North American thinkers in the 18th century to found a secular and rationalist social order is typically called, met with eloquent and sustained criticism from Catholics in the 19th century and since. This course considers the writings of such partisans of modernity as Bayle, Voltaire, d’Alembert and Kant, as well as defenders of tradition such as Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald, Jane Austen, John Henry Newman, and, from our own time, of the Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre.
HIST 361 Religion and Culture in Early-Modern France France under the first three Bourbon kings was the scene of a struggle for cultural dominance between Renaissance Humanism and the resurgent Catholic faith of the post-Tridentine era. The course begins by considering the opposition between Montaigne and St. Francis de Sales as representative of that struggle and then follows their respective influences throughout the century, as seen in the plays of Corneille, Molière, and Racine; the religious essays of Pascal; and the sermons of Bossuet.
HIST 399 Historiography Historiography is the study of the methods and goals of the writing of history. Taken in the student’s junior year, this course will introduce students to the major figures and schools of historical interpretation from Ancient Greece through the modern period. The course will also involve the critical analysis of differing interpretations of persons, events, and trends by modern historians. The chief goal of the course is to assist students in articulating a Catholic vision of history, informed by the reading of selections of St. Augustine’s City of God. (Required for Major)
HIST/THEO 401 History of the Papacy A survey of the development of the Papacy and its impact on history from St. Peter to the present. Emphasis is placed on institutional growth, the advancement of papal ecclesiology, major challenges to the Papacy, and both the elements and effects of papal leadership in the Church as a whole. (Cross-listed in Theology)
HIST 411 Reconquista and Crusade This course treats the relations between Christianity and Islam from the 7th century to the 15th, placing particular emphasis upon the Reconquista, that is, the war for the reconquest of Christian Spain from Pelayo to Isabel la catolica, and the Crusades to the Holy Land between 1095 and 1291. Students will read sources such as the Koran, the relations of the sermon of Urban II at the Council of Clermont, the Poem of El Cid, and Jean de Joinville’s Life of St. Louis.
HIST 412 Spain, Portugal, and the New World since 1492 This course begins with the reign of the Catholic kings of Spain, Fernando and Isabel, and then charts the rise of the Spanish colonial empire, paying special attention to the reigns of Carlos I (the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and Philip II. The second half of the course treats the influence of the Enlightenment and French Revolution upon the Iberian peninsula and Latin America and culminates in a consideration of the Cristero rebellion in Mexico, the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, and the Catholic victory in the Spanish Civil War.
HIST 431 Causes and Effects of the French Revolution A study of the pivotal political event of modern Western history, with special attention to its antagonism to the Christian Faith, the Catholic Church, and Christian moral teachings. Its causes and essential character as manifested in its principal events are carefully examined and its consequences traced in detail to the fall of Napoleon and, somewhat more briefly, to the Paris Commune in 1871, with emphasis on the causes and manner of its apparent defeat by 1815 and its subsequent revival.
HIST 432 Causes and Effects of the Communist Revolution This course studies the totalitarian movements so fundamental to the history of the twentieth century. It traces their roots in the history of Western civilization and focuses in particular on the communist seizure of power in Russia, and the rule of Stalin. It also pays substantial attention to the emergence of fascism, and to the response of the Church to totalitarianism.
HIST/THEO 451 The General Councils The history and theology of the ecumenical councils from Nicaea I to Vatican I. A knowledge of Latin is recommended. (Cross-listed in Theology)
HIST/ENGL 460 The Catholic Literary Revival This course examines the revival of orthodox Catholicism in modern Britain. It treats a wide variety of genres, including realistic fiction, fantasy literature, poetry, history, and social criticism. Students discuss texts in seminar discussions and conduct original research on the work of a modern Catholic author. Among the writers studied are G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, David Jones, Christopher Dawson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and such members of high Anglo-Catholic circles as T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, and Dorothy L. Sayers. (Cross-listed in English)
HIST 463 History of Germany and Austria, 1648-1991 The political and intellectual history of the German-speaking peoples from the end of the Thirty Years War to the reunification of West and East Germany, including coverage of major thinkers such as Goethe, Kant, and Marx, as well as German and Austrian political leaders, including Frederick II, Maria Theresa, Bismarck, Franz Josef, Dollfuss, Hitler, Adenauer and Kohl.
HIST 480 The Pontificate of John Paul II An in-depth study of one of the most important pontificates in the history of the Church, based on George Weigel’s biography, Witness to Hope, which is the text for the course. The course covers the teachings and theology of Pope John Paul II in an historical framework, with particular emphasis on the steps he has taken toward the destruction of the Modernist heresy which had come to dominate much of the Church in the twentieth century, and the building of a vibrant youth movement in the Church in preparation for the third Christian millennium. The course also includes a study of Pope John Paul II’s episcopal appointments and their consequences in the Church.
HIST 489 Honors Seminar A seminar on a special topic in history to be determined by the department chairman in consultation with interested and qualified students. Prerequisites: Minimum 3.25 GPA and permission of the Department Chairman. (3 or 4 credit hours)
HIST 490-99 Special Topics or Directed Studies in History Specially designed courses of readings in areas not sufficiently covered by another course already in the curriculum.
HIST 512 Senior Seminar and Thesis Senior History majors prepare their senior thesis in this course. Students are required to defend their theses in an oral examination.