History

Philosophy

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.

Form III: Western Civilization

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. 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, Volume 1

Spring Term: Rome, Christianity, and the Making of Europe. Students analyze the rise of the Roman Republic and its transition into Empire, the emergence of the great monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam. This class also traces the growth and expansion of France, Portugal, Spain and England into the Americas and India and their participation in the African slave trade. The role of the European Reformation in increasing divisions in European society is also analyzed.  A variety of primary and secondary sources are used, including film, especially Zinneman’s A Man for All Seasons. Text: McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, Volume 1

Form IV: World History

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, Volume 2

Spring Term: China and Japan and the Coming of World War II. This sequence analyzes the rise of Nazi Germany, international communism in the Soviet Union, the weakness of the great democracies, and the coming of World War II in 1939. It also examines 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; McKay, Hill, and Buckler, A History of Western Society, Volume 2

Form V: Advanced United States History
United States History will cover major political, economic, social and cultural developments in American history from first contact to the end of the Cold War. The course is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the challenges of United States history. Students will learn to assess primary sources – their relevance to a given interpretive problem, their reliability and their importance – and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. In addition, the course will emphasize essay writing and defending a strong thesis, as well as comparing similar themes across various time periods in American history. Attention is also given to practice with multiple-choice, short answer and document-based questions.

The Advanced section of this course will emphasize preparation for the Advanced Placement examination; the other section will examine key issues in American history in greater depth.

Form VI: Advanced European History
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 Advanced Placement 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 in the course is placed on essay writing under time constraints. 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 the causes of the French Revolution.

Spring Term: From Vienna to the fall of the Berlin Wall. 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. Students also 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.

Form VI: Introduction to Philosophy
It is said there are three questions all human beings ask. Who am I? What is the world?  What is my relationship to the world? This course invites students to ponder these questions in company with the writings of some of the world’s greatest thinkers. After reading selected texts, students share their questions and understanding in class discussion. Students are expected to examine the practical implications of these philosophies in their daily lives. Each unit concludes with an assignment, often in the form of an essay that discusses what the unit has revealed to them. The culminating activity for the course is a project in which each student designs a universe of their own choosing, explaining their rationale for the laws that govern it. Throughout the course, the aim is to enhance reasoning capacity, refine the ability to express views in writing and speech; to be respectful of opposing views; and to employ all forms of communication to discover truth.

Fall Term: The Western Philosophic Tradition – Platonism, Stoicism and Epicureanism.
The year begins with an exploration of Plato and the beginnings of the Western philosophic tradition. Students read Plato’s trilogy, the Apology, Crito and Phaedo, which examine the trial, imprisonment and last day of Socrates’ life. Excerpts from The Republic, which include the Ring of Gyges, the Tripartite Soul, the Myth of Er and the Cave Allegory, provide a laboratory for the consideration of justice, happiness and the nature of reality. Two films, The Matrix and Twelve Angry Men present modern adaptations of Socratic questions concerning levels of awareness and the dialectic process. Next, we examine Stoicism. The Enchiridion of Epictetus and the The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius serve as primary texts. The biographies of these philosophers illustrate the concept of unity in diversity as the former slave and Roman emperor embrace a single teaching. Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale illustrates how an American prisoner of war applied Stoic principles to survive brutal treatment during his confinement. Finally, the Selected Writings and Testimonia of Epicurus acquaints students with an important school of thought in Ancient Greece, one that emphasized moderation, self-reliance and friendship.

Spring Term: The Eastern Tradition – Vedanta, Buddhism, and Taoism.
The study of Eastern philosophy begins with an examination of Vedanta, one of the world’s oldest philosophies. Ancient and modern exponents such as Shankara, Vivekananda, and Dayananda discuss the basic tenets of this school of Indian philosophy. The Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita are the two foundational texts that examine the underlying nature of the individual and the world. Next, the life and teachings of Siddhartha, also known as the Buddha, are studied to understand his path to the elimination of suffering. The two primary texts are The Dhammapada, which consists of sayings attributed to the Buddha, and Thich Nhat Hahn’s The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, which offers a contemporary discussion of the Noble Eightfold Path. David Grubin’s award-winning film The Buddha is viewed. Finally, the course turns to China. The teaching of Lao Tzu as presented in the Tao Te Ching focuses on the Tao, wu wei or effortless action and inner tranquility. The 1951 documentary film portraying Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia, Kon-Tiki, presents a practical example of wu wei.