Philosophy | Form III: Western Civilization | Form IV: World History
Form V: United States History B | Form V: Advanced United States History
Form VI: Social and Political Change | Form VI: Advanced European History
Forms VI: Great Philosophic Ideas
The History Department program in Forms III through VI is designed to provide students with the skills needed to meet the challenges of even the most rigorous college education. Emphasis is placed on the development of comprehension and communication skills and facility with handling primary and secondary source evidence. Students master the craft of essay writing. Research techniques are stressed, in particular library skills and the judicious and careful use of the Internet as well as the use of proper bibliographic citations.
Fall Term: Religion and Culture in the Ancient World
This is a study of the African and Near Eastern origins of the first human beings; the evolution of small kingdoms and mighty empires in Egypt, Israel, Assyria, and Persia; and the great legacy of Greece to Western Civilization. There is an early visit to the American Museum of Natural History. Analysis of a wide range of primary and secondary sources is encouraged, including appropriate selections from the Old Testament, film, poetry, and literature. Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, vols. A and B.
Winter Term: Rome, Christianity, and the Making of Europe
Students analyze the fall of the Roman Republic and its transition into Empire, the rise of the great monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam, and the rediscovery of Empire under Charlemagne. Judicious use is made of a variety of sources, including Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, vols. A and B.
Spring Term: The Challenge of the West from the Renaissance to the French Revolution
This class traces the growth and expansion of France, Portugal, Spain, and England into the Americas and India; their role in the African slave trade; and the growing conflict between authoritarian and constitutional forms of government culminating in the French Revolution. The importance of the scientific revolution in increasing the power of the West is also analyzed. A variety of primary sources and secondary sources is used, including film, especially Zinneman’s A Man for All Seasons and Wajda’s Danton. Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, vols. B and C.
Fall Term: Ideology and Revolution from the French Revolution to World War I
The great forces unleashed by the French Revolution are analyzed in depth. Nationalism, liberalism, socialism, Marxism, and democracy are also seen within the context of 19th century Industrialization. Imperialism in Africa and Asia is also examined. World War I is seen as the culmination of the ‘isms.’ Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, vols. B and C.
Winter Term: The Rise of Single-Party Dictatorships, the Crisis of Democracy, and the Coming of World War II
This sequence analyses the rise of fascism and authoritarian government in Nazi Germany and Japan, international communism in the Soviet Union, the weakness of the great democracies, and the coming of World War II in 1939. Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, vols. B and C.
Spring Term: China and Japan
This course analyzes the cultural and social foundations of traditional Chinese and Japanese society. China and Japan’s interactions with the West in the early modern era are compared and contrasted, and their differing responses to Western imperialism are evaluated. The course also traces the rise of the communist party dictatorship in China under Mao Ze Dong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin. Texts: Moise, Modern China; Spence, The Search for Modern China; Duus, Modern Japan.
The goal of the non-AP section of United States history is an understanding of the key personalities and events in U.S. history from English colonization to the present day. The class makes extensive use of primary sources drawn from diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper, photographs and film. Secondary sources include a textbook, monographs, and documentaries.
Fall Term: From Jamestown to the New Republic.
The term begins with a study of the thirteen English colonies. The religious, economic, and political motives of the various groups are examined. The focus then turns to the tensions between the colonies and Britain and the ensuing war for American independence. The term ends with a close examination of the 1787 Constitutional Convention and the establishment of the republic.
Winter Term: Jacksonian Democracy to the Civil War.
The increasing democratization of American politics and society, the impact of the idea of Manifest Destiny on the settlement of the West, the increasing industrialization of the North and the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine are the first topics of the term. Next, students examine the sectional differences dividing the North and South in the antebellum period. Finally, students look at the key personalities and events in the American Civil War. Ken Burns’s documentary Civil War provides a visual portrayal of the key battles and personalities of the period.
Spring Term: The Gilded Age to the Present.
The term begins with an examination of the role of industrialists, labor unions, journalists, and reformers in shaping the latter part of the 19th century. The Spanish-American War leads into an examination of America’s role abroad. Next, the course focuses on World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the New Deal. Finally, U.S. involvement in World War II, the Cold War and civil rights are the final topics of investigation.
Advanced United States History is an intensive college preparatory course covering major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in American history from 1600 to the present. The course is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the intellectual challenges of United States history. Students will learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretative problem, their reliability, and their importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. In addition, there is a heavy emphasis on essay writing and defending a strong thesis. This course is the formal preparation for the AP exam given every May.
Fall Term: Settlement of the New World to the Era of Good Feelings
This course examines the religious, economic, and political motives of the first English settlements. In addition, students study how salutary neglect led to an independence movement, gain some understanding of the foundations of federalism, and explore the political and social changes resulting from Jacksonian democracy.
Winter Term: Sectionalism to the Gilded Age
Students study the idea of Manifest Destiny, its effects on both American politics and the Native Americans, and the significance of the “closing of the frontier.” The course also examines the different economies of the North and the South, the causes of the Civil War, and the congressional and presidential plans to reconstruct the wounded nation. During this term, the class discusses the rise of industrialism and how big business changed America’s landscape.
Spring Term: Progressivism to the Post-Cold War Era
Students continue to pay special attention to the democratizing of America. To accomplish this, emphasis is placed on the increasingly inclusive nature of the United States. Students read and analyze primary sources, such as Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech to the 1896 Democratic Convention, political cartoons by Thomas Nast, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s A Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and the Port Huron Statement written by the student activists of the 1960s. Finally, the course examines the causes of the Conservative movement in U.S. politics in the late twentieth century.
This course introduces seniors to major movements for social and political change in the United States since W.W. II, and allows them to think about current challenges facing our system today. The course is conducted mainly in a seminar format, with participation in discussions forming a considerable portion of the student’s grade. Additionally, writing is a major component of the course work. Students write reflections on readings, and respond to major thematic questions through longer essays.
Fall/Winter Term: Case Studies in Change
The course begins with a look into the civil rights movement, a strong foundation for the nonviolent protest that followed through much of the following decades. The documentary series Eyes on the Prize is used for its rich use of primary source interviews as the basis for garnering information about motives, inspirations, and frustrations of the movement. From there, the Vietnam War is investigated from the standpoint of the growing credibility gap between the American people and their government, and the resulting effects of this rift today.
Winter/Spring Term: Taking on the Challenge
After looking at several case studies, students are armed with knowledge of successful and unsuccessful movements for change, and can begin to investigate issues that they feel need to be addressed currently in our system.
Advanced European History is a rigorous college preparatory course covering major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in European history from 1450 to the present. This course is an effective vehicle for the acquisition of those skills of critical analysis needed for success in college. It is the formal preparation for the AP exam. The great breadth of content of this course necessitates considerable reading beyond the confines of the classroom. A significant interest in history itself is a prerequisite for success. Heavy emphasis is placed on essay writing under time constraints in the course. Texts: Palmer and Colton, A History of the Modern World; Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers; and a variety of primary texts and sources.
Fall Term: European History from the Renaissance to Napoleon
The significance of the Renaissance and Reformation in creating the European nation state is studied. Students also examine Europe in the 17th century, the great conflict of ideas brought about by the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, and factors leading to the French Revolution.
Winter Term: From Vienna to Versailles
Peacemaking efforts in Europe in 1815 and 1919 are compared and contrasted; revolutionary ideologies such as revolutionary nationalism, liberalism, socialism, Marxism, and anarchism are analyzed in great depth. Economic developments, especially Industrialization, are also examined. World War I is seen as the logical outcome of these cataclysmic forces.
Spring Term: From Versailles to the Fall of the Soviet Union
Students study the rise of fascism and communism, the collapse of capitalism, and the crisis of democracy leading to World War II. The collapse of European power as a result of World War II and the emergence of the superpowers and Europe’s resurgence after 1945 with the growth of the European Union are analyzed. Europe’s role in the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 complete the sequence.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and from its inception philosophy focused on asking important metaphysical questions: Who am I? What is the nature of the world? What is my relationship to the world? This course will introduce students to some of the great philosophic thinkers from the Eastern and Western traditions, emphasizing the commonality and practicality of their principles for everyday life.
Fall Term: The Western Tradition – Plato and the Stoics
he year begins with an exploration of the Western tradition. In the Cave Allegory, taken from The Republic, Plato asserts that many people live in a state of non-comprehension of reality. Dialogues drawn from The Apology, concerning Socrates’ trial, and his conversations in prison, Crito, provide the settings to explore the questions of man’s true nature and need for independent thinking. Students also examine Stoic philosophy emphasizing self-reliance expounded by the freed Greek slave Epictetus, and by the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius.
Winter Term: The Eastern Tradition – Buddha, Lao Tzu and Vedic Philosophy
The second trimester focuses on the Eastern tradition. The life and teachings of Siddhartha (the Buddha), the son of a king who gave up the throne to find freedom from suffering, brings forth the concepts of karma and reincarnation. The teachings of Lao Tzu provide an insight into Chinese philosophy with its emphasis on finding tranquility. Finally, modern exponents of Vedic philosophy are explored. Vivekananda’s Work and its Secret, and Rama Tirtha’s The Secret of Success help to provide timeless philosophic advice for meeting present day challenges.
Spring Term: Philosophy in Modern Literature and Film
The third trimester continues our exploration of Eastern philosophy and ends with an examination of philosophic ideas in modern literature and film. Several modern short stories and films underscore humanity’s never-ending effort to understand the meaning of its existence. Throughout the year, the principles and practice of Dialectic will be studied. Dialectic is a reasoning process that uses questions and answers to discover the truth of a topic. Unlike common debate that aims to persuade regardless of truth, the aim of dialectic is to move the conversation closer to truth while refining the intellect of participants. A number of classes will be devoted to the practice of dialectic.