History of Western Civ: HIST 100

Foundations of Western Civilization (HIST 100)

To many people, history might seem like a boring subject. And the way many people teach it, it can be. But to me, if history is taught by the right person, it can be an adventure and a chance to learn more about all different types of cultures and their evolution over time. This is why I was so glad to discover that the professor for my Foundations of Western Civilization class, Dr. William Holliday, thinks of history the same way.

Foundations of Western Civilizations is one of two classes that can fulfil Longwood’s history of western civilization goal, the other being its counterpart, Modern Western Civilizations. I chose to take the foundations class because older history has always intrigued me. More modern time periods are easier to imagine, as they are closer to our life today, but what would it be like living France during the dark ages? In the Italian Peninsula during the Roman empire during its height? In Mesopotamia during the earliest civilizations?

We can learn a surprising amount of information about humans as a whole by looking back to our earliest recorded days, information that is applicable to humans across all of time. Foundations of Western Civilizations helped to further cement this in me. As we learned about civilizations growing and progressing, traces of the earliest civilizations were still evident in the way the more advanced cultures wrote, talked, built, and thought.

However, cultures can be just as different as some can be similar. We got to examine the differences between two cultures in a paper (see below) where we read two different accounts of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. One was from narratives of the native Mexicans; the other, from the journals of the Spanish invaders. I found it really intriguing how the same events had different accounts, different consequences, different emotional interpretations, and even different religious explanations for the events from the two different cultures. I found that this paper really helped me to put extra effort and thought into the class, not only from the two books I read, but from all the other information I learned as well. Because, in the end, all of history is linked together in some way.

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