Syllabus: HISTORY 4322/6322


HISTORY 4068/6068, Mondays & Wednesdays
12:40 – 2:05 PM MITCHELL HALL 209
Dr. Peter J. Brand
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Course Description: In this course, we will examine the history and culture of Ancient Rome’s imperial age from the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey at the end of the Republic to the end of the 4th Century after Christ (49 BCE – 400 CE). Along the way, we will examine a number of key historical issues including: the end of the Republic and the establishment of the imperial system:  religion in the Roman world including polytheistic mystery cults, the place of Judaism and the rise of Christianity in the shadow of Rome; social structures and practices in the Roman Empire’s multi-cultural empire such as sexuality and family life, slavery and freedmen, life in Roman cities, and economic conditions in the empire. Imperial policy and the Roman military as Rome transition from active expansion to the maintenance of its far flung borders in the face of external threats from Barbarians and the Parthian Empire is another subject we will examine. We will also experience the high and low culture of Rome’s teeming cities: gladiatorial combat and chariot racing in the arena, bathing palaces and leisure amenities where all levels of society intermixed, exclusive dinner parties at the rural and seaside villas of the wealthy, low wine bars and fast food shops where patrons could drink, eat, gamble followed by a visit to the local brothel. In the first three centuries CE, we will trace the rise of Christianity from a tiny offshoot of Judaism poorly understood but quickly vilified by most Romans and their government to the official faith of the Roman Empire when the pagan cults were abolished around 400 CE. Along the way, we will see how apostles, church fathers and the far-flung adherents of the new faith in scattered pockets across the empire shaped the essential doctrines of Christianity at a time when many highly different and competitive visions of who Christ was and what Christians should believe were held by different groups of early Christians.

1) Required Texts: (buy at the University Bookstore):

Boatwright et al., The Romans. (Oxford University Press).

Graves, R. F. Suetonius– The 12 Caesars. (Penguin).

Plutarch, Fall of the Roman Republic.

Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Struggle for the Faiths We Never Knew

2) Attendance:

The lectures will present much new material that is not covered in the textbook and it is important that you attend class regularly. Un-excused absences will result in the lowering of your grade. Pop quizzes may be given if general attendance slips. Excused absences may be granted with a doctor’s note or for athletes with an athletic department note. Repeated absences will result in your being crucified.

3) Grading:

The +/- (plus/minus) grading scale will be used in this course. I do not grade on a curve. If you got it, you earned it! Grades will be determined by the following Criteria:

Undergraduate Students:

1) Class participation = 40%

  • Quizzes
  • Class discussions
  • In-class written responses

2) Mid-Term and Final Essays = 40%

  • Mid-term 5 page essay = 20%
  • Final 5 page essay = 20%

3 Book Reiview or Research Project (choose one) = 20%

  • Book & Primary source review 5-8 pages or
  • Research paper 5-10 pages

Graduate Students:

1) Class participation = 40%

  • Quizzes
  • Class discussions
  • In-class written responses

2) Mid-Term and Final Essays = 40%

  • Mid-term 10-12 page essay = 20%
  • Final 10-12 page essay = 20%

3 Book Reiview or Research Project (choose one) = 20%

  • Book & Primary source review 10-15 pages or
  • Research paper 10-15 pages

Class Participation:

Class discussions will center around assigned readings including book assignments and readings of primary sources (= ancient Roman documents translated into English). To encourage most students to do the readings and to make them able to participate in the class discussions, we will have regular pop-quizzes and in-class written assignments based on the assigned readings for the class. The sum total of all of these will be 20% of your final grade.

Mid Term and Final Essays:

All Students: will produce two take-home essays synthesizing the material we have covered in class. These essays, instead of exams and term papers, will represent the largest portion of your grade (= 40%). Each essay will be worth 20% of your final grade and each should be about 5 pages long and be based on a choice of broad historical questions. The first essay is due in mid term. The second is due near the end of term. The exact due dates will be announced in class and will be strictly enforced. Missing one will be the same as missing an in-class exam and penalties will be incurred if essays are late without good reason & without my approval. The questions and topics for both essays are posted on the main homepage of the class website. Graduate student papers should be longer and will be held to a higher standard for the quality of writing and the depth of analysis of the issues covered.

Book Review/Research Project:

All students will do an additional written assignment worth a total of 40% of your grade. You will choose either a Book and Primary Source review paper or a mini-research paper. Whichever you choose, you will produce a 5-8 page essay (10-15 pages for graduate students only). Review papers will examine a book length work on some aspect of Roman imperial history, either a secondary source or a primary source in translation. Secondary source works should include some component of primary source material for analysis. Primary source works should also include some modern secondary source analysis of the primary source itself. I can supply you with a list of possible books or subjects.

Mini research papers will examine a particular topic or issue in Roman imperial history and analyze it by examining several primary and secondary sources instead of just one or two as in the case of the review essay.  Either paper should be between 5-10 pages long and all should be critical, analytical essays, not merely descriptive or narrative ones.

Submitting Assignments:

All assignments for this class MUST be submitted both electronically via the website AND as a copy submitted directly to the professor through the e-courseware system for this
course. Failure to submit any assignments by both methods will result in the assignment not being accepted and not being graded.

4) Reading Assignments: Readings are due on the day for which they are assigned.

5) Plagiarism:

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA.: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983) defines “to plagiarize” as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own…without crediting the source.” Thus, plagiarism is a serious issue, and it can result in severe penalties. For students this could be a failing grade for the work containing the plagiarized material. In some
cases it could result in a failing grade for the course or, in flagrant circumstances, even permanent expulsion from the university. It is important to emphasize that paraphrased ideas must also be credited the same as if they were a direct quote. Students can avoid the risk of plagiarizing the source material by using an acceptable citation style guide. There are several acceptable styles so the student should check with the professor while preparing the paper to learn which one is preferred. In all cases, if the student has any question about plagiarism he/she should check with
their professor before submitting the final copy. Plagiarism is committed when the plagiarized material is submitted for class credit.

Work Eligible for Class Credit:

Any papers, reviews, and projects submitted for credit in another class at this university or any other institution are not eligible for credit in this class or any other class in The University of Memphis History Department. The submission of such work will result in a grade of zero and, in some cases, can be referred to the appropriate office for possibly more severe penalties.

Student statement of Academic Honesty

All students must read and sign a statement of Academic Honesty where they will pledge not to commit any form of plagiarism. Until this statement is signed and turned in to the instructor, no work that they shall submit for this class shall be accepted or graded. The statement can be found HERE.

6) Office Hourse and Contact Information:

My regular office hours are posted on the door of Room 133 in Mitchell Hall. Feel free to come and see me if you are having any sort of problem or if you would like to discuss something with me. If my office hours are inconvenient, call me at 678-2521 for an appointment or this can be set up by e-mail. My e-mail address is: