History 3312: Medieval Civilization

Spring 2011 (online)



Dr. Laura A. Smoller



Office hours: MW, 3:00-4:00 p.m.

tel: (501) 569-8389

Office: SH 604K


                  This course introduces students to the world of medieval Europe, roughly 500-1500 C.E. Students will be exposed to some of the principal historiographical debates about the period, as well as the major types of primary sources available in English translation, and will develop facility in reading, analyzing, and interpreting both primary and secondary sources. Religion will be a central theme in this study of the so-called "Christian Middle Ages," as well as the ordering structures borrowed and adapted from Roman and so-called barbarian cultures. We will examine how medieval Europeans dealt with social, cultural, and economic change and will study reactions to the "Others" on the margins and in their midst: heretics, Muslims, and Jews.


                  This is an online class that will take place entirely within the UALR Blackboard course shell. Each week, students will listen to audio lectures, take a quiz on the lectures, read from the textbook and selected primary sources, and post to the Discussion topic for that week. In addition, students will take a midterm and final exam and will write an article review and a primary-source based paper.


Week 1 (1/18-21)


textbook, pp. 1-3


The Roman Heritage

textbook, pp. 4-8







Week 2 (1/24-/28)

The Christian Inheritance

textbook, pp. 8-18


The World of the Barbarians

textbook, pp. 19-27



Tacitus, Germania (online); The Passion of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas (online)




Week 3 (1/31-2/4)

The East Transformed

textbook, pp. 51-69


The West Transformed

textbook, pp. 28-40



Sulpicius Severus, Life of St. Martin of Tours (online); Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks (excerpts online)




Week 4 (2/7-11)

Monks, Missionaries, and Popes

textbook, pp. 40-50


Charlemagne: A New Augustus?

textbook, pp. 80-101



Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People (excerpts online); Einhard, Life of Charlemagne (online)




Week 5 (2/14-18)

An Age of Invasions

textbook, pp. 102-11


Lords and Vassals

textbook, pp. 118-22



The Song of Roland (purchase)




Week 6 (2/21-25)

Political Recovery

textbook, pp. 111-18, 123-30


The World of Church Reform

textbook, pp. 167-72


Midterm exam

Must be completed by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time Zone) on Friday, February 25.




Week 7 (2/28-3/4)

The Investiture Controversy

textbook, pp. 172-89



Tierney, Crisis of Church and State, excerpts (ER)




Week 8 (3/7-11)

Byzantium and Islam around 1000

textbook, pp. 63-65, 70-79, 131-39


The First Crusade

textbook, pp. 217-31



Four accounts of the Crusades (ER)




Week 9 (3/14-18)

The Growth of Urban Life

textbook, pp. 139-41, 150-61


The 12th Century Renaissance

textbook, pp. 290-96



Abelard, Historia calamitatum (History of My Misfortunes--online




 Break (3/21-25)

 Spring Break



Week 10 (3/28-4/1)

The Birth of Popular Heresy

textbook, pp. 190-205, 231-35



Henry of Le Mans (ER); Thomas de Cantimpre, Life of Christina Mirabilis [the Astonishing] (ER)


Article review

Article review due Friday, April 1, by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time Zone).

Week 11 (4/4-8)

Courtly Culture

textbook, pp. 162-66, 269-71, 283-90


Bureaucrats and Politics: The New Monarchies of the High Middle Ages

textbook, pp. 236-68



Marie de France, La Fresne (ER); Odericus Vitails, "On Henry I" (selections online)




Week 12 (4/11-15)

The Rise of the Mendicants

textbook, pp. 205-10


Universities and Scholasticism

textbook, pp. 271-83



Thomas of Celano, Life of St. Francis (online); regulations of the University of Paris (ER); Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologia (selections--ER)




Week 13 (4/18-22)

Inquisitors and Heretics

textbook, pp. 231-35


Marriage, Family, and Everyday Life

textbook, pp. 141-50



Bernard Gui, Manual for Inquisitors (selections--ER); Inquisition records for Arnaud Gelis, Barthelemy Amilhac, and Beatrice de Planissoles




Week 14 (4/25-29)

Paper due

Primary source paper due by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time Zone) on Monday, April 25.


A society on the borderlands: Medieval Spain

textbook, p. 211-16, 267-69, 332-35



Code of Cuenca (ER); Las siete partidas, On Jews (online); Ordinance of Jews in Aragon (online)




Week 15 (5/2-5/6)

Political crises of the later Middle Ages

textbook, pp. 297-301, 322-32, 335-43


The Black Death

textbook, pp. 301-13



Henry Knighton, Chronicle (ER); trial of Joan of Arc (ER)




Week 16 (5/9)

Crisis in the Church

textbook, pp. 313-21, 354-61




May 13

Final exam

Final exam must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time Zone) on Friday, May 13.


Learning objectives: At the end of this course, students will be able to


Required materials: The following books are required for the course and are available in the UALR bookstore.


Judith M. Bennett, Medieval Europe: A Short History, 11th ed. (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011). ISBN-13: 978-0-07-338550-1. (Abbreviated in the syllabus as textbook.)


Glyn Burgess, trans., The Song of Roland (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990). ISBN-13: 978-0140445329.


Any additional readings, including articles for the article review, will be posted on electronic reserve via Blackboard. [Abbreviated in the syllabus as (ER).]


Assignments and grading: Written assignments are weighted as follows:


Quizzes on lectures--20%

Midterm (March 4)---15%

Article review (due April 1)---15%

Primary source-based paper (due April 25)---15%

Final exam (due May 13, by 11:59 p.m.)--15%



Grading scale: A=90-100%     B=80-89%          C=70-79%          D=60-69%         F=0-59%


In case of some mix-up, it is a good idea to save all returned work until you receive your grade at the end of the semester.


About the quizzes:  Weekly quizzes on the lecture material must be completed each week by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday (with the exception of the first week, when the quiz must be completed by Friday at 11:59 p.m.).  Quizzes will be available from Monday through Wednesday, and students will have 30 minutes to complete each quiz. 

About the discussions: All discussions are graded on a ten point scale. To receive at least 8 points credit for a discussion, students must make at least three substantive postings in the course of the week in response to both the posted questions and to other students' comments. (A week ends on Friday at 11:59 p.m., at which point the discussion will be locked.) Postings must be at least eight hours apart to receive credit as separate postings. To receive 9 or 10 points credit, at least one posting must include a specific citation or, ideally, a quotation from the reading that backs up the point being made.


Late work: No discussion postings will be allowed after the official close of the week on Friday at 11:59 p.m. For other assignments, late work will be penalized 10 points per calendar day late, and I will not accept late papers after the graded assignment has already been returned to the class.


Make-up exams: Make-up exams will be allowed only by special arrangement with the instructor and only for students with a valid excuse. In all cases, students wishing to make up an exam must contact the instructor before the missed exam.


Students with disabilities:  It is the policy and practice of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments.  If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or to accurate assessment of achievement--such as time-limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos--please notify the instructor as soon as possible.  Students are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center, telephone 501-569-3143 (v/tty). For more information, visit the DRC website at http://www.ualr.edu/disability.  


Cheating and plagiarism: Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses and will be treated as such. ("Plagiarism" means "to adopt and reproduce as one's own, to appropriate to one's use, and incorporate in one's own work without acknowledgment the ideas of others or passages from their writings and works." See Section VI, Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Behavior, Student Handbook, p. 39. Copying directly from the textbook or an encyclopedia article without quotation marks or an identifying citation, for example, constitutes plagiarism.) Anyone who engages in such activities will receive no credit for that assignment and may in addition be turned over to the Academic Integrity and Grievance Committee for University disciplinary action, which may include separation from the University.


Objectives for majors in the Department of History:

1. Demonstrate a significant degree of knowledge about both United States and World history through completion of a broad selection of courses in history.

2.  Ask appropriate historical questions that demonstrate an understanding of the discipline of history and distinguish it from those of other disciplines.

3.  Distinguish between primary sources and secondary sources used in the writing of history and know how to use and analyze each appropriately. Students will thus be able to:

                  a. Analyze a primary source as a product of a particular historical context

                  b. Respond critically to a secondary source, taking into account the primary sources used by the historian, the historian's methodology, the logic of the argument, and other major interpretations in the field.

4. Present historical analysis and arguments in a clear written form, including the ability to construct an argument by marshalling evidence in an appropriate and logical fashion.

5. Write a research paper that asks a significant historical question, answers it with a clear thesis and a logical argument, supports it with both primary and secondary sources documented according to the standards of the Chicago Manual of Style, and is written in clear and artful prose with the grammar and spelling associated with formal composition.


Copyright notice: Copyright by Laura Smoller as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students and auditors are prohibited from selling notes during this course to (or being paid for taking notes by) any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course.


Disclaimer: The instructor reserves the right to change topics and assignments on the syllabus at any point in the semester.