History 104A, November 21: Where to From Here?
I do have the exams. I've been procrastinating giving them back.
I mean today, I wasn't procrastinating grading them, but I had to get
that tournament done. And since I do them on weekends, the weekend is
over and the papers are here. Since only have a few hours, I did it
the easy way, I flunked everybody. No. I didn't put any comments on
them. I'll try to go over them in class. Obviously for some of you,
as with last time, if you feel like you want some comments at the end
of the class, just give them back to me and say, please comment, and I
will give them back. How were they in general terms? So so. I think
we had more A's last time and they were a little better. This time
maybe the questions were a little trickier or more difficult. They're
within the range, so -- (passing them back).
Okay. Where are we at? Let's go through the questions to give
you a little basis of what I was looking for and hopefully that will
help you get a better idea of why the grade was where it was good or
Question A -- it really was a tough one. I was trying to getting
is what would tie it together. The end of chapter six was basically
the Hong dynasty, and then chapter seven and eight dealing with most
of the world besides south or Central America. It asked for outside
of Europe; and therefore, there was definitely a section on Africa in
there, in fact, a pretty good one. And so I think a lot of people
were hurt in getting their A's and wound up with B's or B pluses
because they left out Africa or/and the Americas. I didn't penalize
you dramatically like say, hey, you left out one-fourth of the world;
but I definitely had to take away some points in my head on the
grades. It makes a big difference not to cover the whole question.
It was a tough one to prepare for. I was a little disappointed that
there wasn't more -- since the question did ask migration, trade, and
spread of belief systems -- the book definitely had sections on the
Saharan trade routes, the silk as well as the Indian Ocean as an
international trade zone. I would have thought that we would have had
more dealing with those three areas for trade; and that was missing,
although I think a couple of people at least mentioned the silk route.
I would have touched a little more if you were you on the spread of
Buddhism. Some of you did. I think that certainly was somewhat
lacking. Some of you went ahead and took the Muslim and the expansion
of the Muslim religion and faith, and that was fine. It gives a lot
of leeway. There's no one right to approach it. Christianity was a
little touchy because that's mostly Europe. But certainly you could
have brought that over into the Americas, but that's beyond our
period. It's after 1,000. Although, you would have dealt with the
Irish monk having gone, in the sixth century to the new world, at
least the argument that he did. It was a little difficult there. And
certainly the restoration perhaps of Hinduism in India could have been
dealt with. I think we sort of lacked that extra little umph to give
it a solid A. Any questions on the A essay?
I think at least half of you took it. And that was more than I
think last time took the take home.
Explain what the instructor meant by and develop the historical
significance of each of the outlined title and subtitles that follow.
I would have thought this was a little easier, but most people didn't
take it. I think one or two people did. The sense of the universal
truth was that sense that there was one faith, one God in simple
terms. Disruption would have been the disruption perhaps of the
universality of Rome and then its renewal in the Christian church.
And you could have dealt with that. Now, revealed knowledge, what we
were talking about there was that truth came and knowledge came
through those individuals who God chose to select to give it to; and
therefore, authority was the truth, the church fathers and developed
it. Faith and reason -- there we get into, if you had done it, it
should have included the nominalist versus the rationalist. The
rationalists believes that knowledge was revealed only by God and that
you accepted it through faith. The nominalists believing that you
searched it out by examination, that the universals came into being
only because we saw the particulars versus the universals exists
beyond humans and we understood the particulars based on having it
revealed to us. Guilded of course was the guild system tied to the
university system tied to the educational system that I dealt with.
The crusading spirit -- well, we spent time on the crusades and that
spirit continued into some people, say the Don Quixote, the Spanish,
the Portuguese continuing the crusades to the Americas.
A number of people took C. At least one person misread what I
was saying here. Dr. Kirshner said that he really has no love like
other historians. What I meant by that is that other historians have
a love for Rome. I think my words wag a built fault. It doesn't have
a lot to do with the essay. Of the ancient Romans five years of the
republic, five years of the empire. Okay. I told you last time it
was lacking once again this time -- date, dates, dates, general dates.
I gave you 500 years, I gave you 500 years. When is it 500 years from
1500 to 2000 CE? You need to get those in within just a few of them
would make your essays be so much nicer to show me that you know the
period. You could have said from 500 BC or BCE to 500 AD or CE. At
least one person put down basically founding of the republic of Rome
came with Brutus in the year 507 or 509 depending on who you read,
BCE, and it is often given as 467 AD with Romulus Augustus sitting on
the throne of Rome, being the last Roman empire removed. Now, that
tells me that you're writing history papers. It's not a lot of ideas.
It's not a lot of concepts, but it does become necessary even though
the main thrust of the essay was like or dislike.
Now again, I didn't take a lot off for why I didn't say I like
it. A few of you actually apparently just weren't sure, which makes
me wonder if you ever listen to me, but you put in some of the reasons
I said I didn't like the Romans and that was okay. I sort of semi
accepted it, so that at least it showed me you were listening, I think
even if it didn't necessarily indicate, well, that's why Mr. Kirshner
didn't really have a great love for ancient Rome. One I started out
talking about the two-faced God, Janus, and identified the hypocrisy
that I found with a society identified that it keeps its doors closed
during times of peace and its doors open in times of war, that it
claimed peace but it was often at war even during the partial Romana.
Hypocrisy, I talked and some of you put it in there about the founding
of Rome of the one brother -- Romulus killing Remus, and then of
course built on rape and pillage as a foundation. You can have gone
into such things as the dole, the coliseum, the gladiators, the
slavery. There were many things that would have touched on it. What
about what you found positive? Yeah, there were a lot of positive
things. Ahmand always likes the military tactics.
A That's one of the reasons I listed for why you didn't like the
war. And I didn't talk about war being one of their positive aspects.
THE PROFESSOR: I noticed that. I guess you were playing
diplomat with me just in case I got pissed off.
A I just didn't think to put it.
THE PROFESSOR: I think I did figure out it was your handwriting.
It looked sort of like your handwriting.
The other elements, you could have certainly talked about Rome's
ability to absolve all nationalities, the diversity in Rome itself
certainly, that Roman citizenship was open not just to Italians. You
could have, in a sense, perhaps involved in Plebeians and said that
this was positive because they had their own assembly. But it could
have been anything because you really did have a strong patrician
class, to say the least, were aristocratic snobs and they play on that
in the HBO special Rome. You certainly could have dealt with the
justice system in being codified a number of times, finally, in the
2nd century, after the fall of Rome in the West, with Justians cove.
I understand that Dr. Dardell, a history teacher, dances to the
music. He's so straight looking. I never knew he was a dancer.
A He answers them too.
THE PROFESSOR: He picks them up and answers them?
A He'll take it from them and talk.
THE PROFESSOR: I like that, especially if it's a woman's phone.
It's like when notes are passed around the classroom in high school,
you read the notes. I miss that. That was the most fun in the world.
A What's the funniest note you ever found?
THE PROFESSOR: I don't real. Remember, we're talking 70 years
ago when I was teaching high school.
A You're not even 70 years old.
THE PROFESSOR: That's besides the point.
Q Why do people do that, they say that they're older than you
really are? Is it because you're surrounded by youth that you think,
oh my God, he's so old?
THE PROFESSOR: I know what I was 100 years ago when I was young,
I thought they were old.
Q So which one are you, 100 or 70?
THE PROFESSOR: No. I taught 70 years ago, and I would have to
be alive, so that would make me 100.
Any other questions on the exam? What was I talking about?
A Passing notes in high school.
THE PROFESSOR: No, no, no. I meant about the material of
course. I'll never forget though my son when I was in high school, my
oldest son had a fish bowl that he used to fill with the notes. I was
so tempted, but I really didn't not more than once I think. Okay.
Where am I at? Where there any other questions about the exam?
All right. As I said, if there's a need for me to comment further on
your papers, I'll be happy to be more throw thorough on it. There
where to from here is we've been talking about the waning, the
transformation of medieval Europe. Today what I'd like to talk about
is what separates medieval Europe from quote/unquote modern Europe.
As you already know historians are strange?
A You've proven that.
THE PROFESSOR: You've proven that yes. They answer your phone,
read your notes, dance in class, whatever, but we also are perhaps we
do that because we're also very anal structured. We need to have
things in nice little boxes all in a row. And therefore, we put these
patterns of dates on and titles on issues. I should say on history.
We break it up into names and patterns that have very little validity.
Tomorrow is of course one of those days when all history changed.
Well, it had an impact on our lives but I'm not sure it created any
tremendous movement. But then again, there are those who see and set
the specific date. What is tomorrow's date?
A November 22nd.
THE PROFESSOR: And what happened?
A You have to give me the year.
THE PROFESSOR: November 22nd doesn't do it?
THE PROFESSOR: 1963.
THE PROFESSOR: Russian did a skit. When he was doing his comedy
skits in school and he realized all these young women because nobody
knew what December 7th was.
THE PROFESSOR: December 7th would be to us like September 11th
may be or perhaps quote/unquote my generation we might say if I had a
generation, 1963, November 22nd.
A Why don't you just tell us. Obviously we don't know.
THE PROFESSOR: It was the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
THE PROFESSOR: Like December 7th which you did know.
A Yes, Pearl Harbor.
THE PROFESSOR: Yes.
A The date was kind of broad. We needed a subject.
THE PROFESSOR: When you learn them in history, you don't need a
subject such as 1492; right? I just throw that out and everybody
knows that was the Declaration of Independence; right?
A (laughing). That was a date that we learned in elementary
THE PROFESSOR: All right. So we got all these little poems that
you do. But in history, we end the middle ages in 1453 and we enter
modern history. Modern history in 1453 -- weird. If modern history
starts in the 1500s, what do we call our present history? And
historians refer to the history we are now living as contemporary
Q How come the year is so exact?
THE PROFESSOR: Well, in 1453 -- that's why I say historians are
definitely anal in that way. They use it because it was the year that
Constantinople fell. In other words, the Christian city fell to the
Ottoman Turks having existed for over a thousand years as a Christian
outpost constantly besieged. Now why would that be the change in
western or modern times? Well, before -- let me deal with it then.
In answering with that, it was believed at least the mythology, if you
will, the history books, that all of a sudden trade stopped with the
East. It closed off the ports. It prevented the Italian traders from
getting silk and spices and other goodies from the East. And so the
argument is, starting in 1453, western Europe began to look for
another way to get to the orient to get the goodies. And the argument
again being that it opened up a new round world with 1492 Columbus
sailing the blue to prove that the world was round. Now, we know
today that of course geographers knew the world was round. But again.
A Actually, it's more of an egg shape.
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah. And if we keep it up, we're going to crack
an egg. I'm talking about the way the world is going. Yes, you have
that kind of a social science teacher. Yes, it's spinning free in
sort of an egg shape. And Columbus was off by 3,000 miles, in any
case, in his belief on the circumference of the Earth.
However, once again, the myths of history create the reality. If
we believe it, it becomes real. We're going to talk later to point
out that the Portuguese actually began their journey around Africa
starting in 1385 basically and certainly with Henry the navigator in
1450 building certain pilot schools. We certainly have gotten around
basically the base of Africa or at least down to the base of Africa by
1453, at least the Portuguese have.
The point being that this new concept that the world is a world
and it is round and that we need to go around the world to get our
goodies or around Africa creates what's called the early modern period
of the modern period. That translates to that his historians talk
about the period from the 16th century, 1500s, to the nineteenth
century, 1800s, as early modern history, 1500 to 1700 actually to give
you actual dates, as early modern history. And 1700 to when as modern
history. When the when is a question. For me, I would say that
contemporary history began with World War II when I was in college.
The question is today, where do we start contemporary history? I
would say probably with September 11th. I think that had a tremendous
change and awakening to the world that communism was gone and that
there was another threat, fundamentalism, not just in the Muslim form,
which is of course the main one perhaps, but in many forms, be it
Christian, Jewish, or whatever, is that this is an attempt to revert
the world back to the medieval period, getting rid of, if you will,
the modern cultural, the modern technology world. In other words, we
have developed a world movement of Luddites. Jeopardy -- what are
Luddites? At around the 1800 there was a movement in England by
workers to destroy the mills and factories that had been inundated or
taken over with technology, where jobs were being lost by the workers.
They went out and became the Unibomber. They began destroying the
factories and the mills, and the movement was called Luddites, rage
against the machine, if you will. And that, I think, although again
while we can say September 11th, obviously the movement of Luddites,
the Unibomber, whomever, begin before 2001. It was fairly predicable
that with the fall of the Soviet Union's i.e. eastern Europeans,
communism, with the elimination of communism in China, no matter what
name they want to call it, and even Castro having the Pope come and
talk in Cuba, the reality was that the left had failed and that the
right, the desire to return to a past real or not was now
predominating the world. Translation, I grew up in a world looking to
the left, the left being a political movements that want something new
that look to a new society, to the betterment, to progress. The
themes of the enlightenment, the themes of the renaissance coming
forth. Men, people can do all things if they will, people making
themselves out to be as good if not better than God because they can
accomplish and not giving God credit for their values, for their
abilities. The world of the left looked to a new world. The world of
the right looks to the old world, to the past, and wants to restore
those values from tradition. And so basically from the end of World
War II, if you will, until 1990, we were a world of the left. In the
1960s and early 70s, the word conservative was an evil word. Today
the word liberal has become an evil word, although the last election
may have changed that a bit.
One element that really distinguishes the medieval world from the
modern world is nationalism. The nation state emerging out of the
medieval period continues to dominate. We're living in a world of
nations. But once again, the fundamentalist movements, especially the
Muslim movements, wants to return to the a world without nations, the
religious unity. Al Queda is made up of many different nationalities.
They do not see a Jordan. In fact, they'd like to eliminate it. They
do not see a Syria or a Saudi Arabia. What they see is a Muslim world
as they had in the 8th century to the 10th century CE. The
elimination then of national boundaries is the movement of the
present. Some see it from a different perspective. The left would
like to eliminate national boundaries and create a united federation
of planets, but that may take a while yet until we get a Spock to be
able to bring in the Romulans at least and the Clingons. In the
meantime, coming out of the medieval period I talked earlier about the
lion versus the unicorn, how the unicorn symbolized universality of
the church and the lion reflected the king, the monarchy, the selfish
nation. The lion being the enemy of the unicorn in heraldry in
I pointed out that we have a myth because of that, that these
nations came and were there forever. Now, it is true that language
existed but as I think I identified earlier, there was no unified
Germany until 1871, a little over 130 years ago, I guess. There was
no Italy as a nation until 1870. So we're talking about nations
because we live in a concept, we are bounded in an idea that nations
and nationalists are the world. The United Nations today recognizes
191 nations, I believe, as members. The post office recognizes some
260 nations. Of course some of them are nations that are no larger
than postage stamps. Did I mention San Marino in this class before?
Has anybody ever heard of San Marino?
A I heard that it's really tiny.
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah, postage stamp size. Do you know where it
THE PROFESSOR: It a nation in the Apennines in Italy and
it's independent. I'm not sure exactly how large it is, probably
about the size of Fremont, whose made most of its money historically
from postage stamps, literally.
THE PROFESSOR: No. That's another nation. Many of the small
nations make their money or did, until other countries like the U.S.
began making colorful stamps, by selling postage stamps and sometimes
violating copyrights. They used to sell lots of Disney stamps that
you could literally mail. There are other little countries like
Andorra. Luxembourg is a little bit better. Andorra is in the
Pyrenees between Spain and France. Yeah, there are lots of minor
nations included a recognized independent nation the Vatican. And in
Rome, there is a less than a block where the Knights Templar
have what is considered to be a separate nationality, national state,
if you will. They've got the independent of a nation. The point
being that when we view the world, we view it not in terms of the holy
Roman empire, but of a France, a Spain, a Germany a Poland, a Hungary.
In some recent years it has divided Czechoslovakia into the Czechs and
into the Slovaks. How far do we go to create the little lion cubs
and? The more we break apart into lion cubs rather than the lions,
the more there is no conception of unity being it in world federalism
or about it in the unity brought on by a religious faith or movement.
Q Was there -- because you said that Italy wasn't united as a
nation -- was that a lot because of Spain sometimes being inseminate
into the holy land empire through one of the Charles?
THE PROFESSOR: The Hapsburg family through Charles, you're
right, became holy Roman emperor and also the king of Spain which also
included, what's listed there as Roman principality, the two Sicilies
as well as the Netherlands, including Holland, were all part of this
holy Roman empire. And Spain had nominal control over the two
Sicilies. But no, the Pope controlled the large number of states in
central Italy. Austria -- this was the Hapsburg under Charles
included -- (see map) -- there were Italian cities into the area we
call Yugoslavia in here but that's gone too. And then we had Sardinia
here, some of this area here was, within limitations, French. And
this under the Hapsburgs in Austria. There was many reasons, many
areas there that would prevent, although they spoke basically the same
language within limitations, Italians sometimes have trouble
understanding and talking with people from Venice. But then again,
while TV has brought us together, again 300 years ago, when I traveled
to -- the south during college we used to go from New York to Fort
Lauderdale to the beach. And I got stopped by a cop in Georgia and he
said (mumbled). He was saying, "Are you all going to a fire?" So
again, language is, even in this country, sometimes more difficult to
translate, forget the Brooklyn-ease.
Another coming out of the medieval era into the modern era we
also find, as I identified before, something we now call capitalism,
and we touched on that earlier. We find a faith in human beings, that
men can do all things, people can do all things, if we will. The
medieval period of time is a period of community. The center is the
church. And during medieval times, we see paintings and stained glass
windows. Very seldom do we know who the architects were or who drew
the paintings or painted the paintings, who made the stained glass
windows. The individual identity was not always monks, although they
were involved, or priests, there were many crafts people. There were
many who did their job. I'm trying to think of a really great novel
that shows those individuals coming into and building a cathedral, and
I can't think of it right now. Ken Follet (The Pillars of the Earth) is the author, I think.
It will hit me. Starting with what we call the renaissance in the
15th century, 1400s, we begin to really see the individual coming
forth, the individual, not only name appears, their work appear, they
brag about it, and they even put their own pictures and drawings and
sculptures, they put their own faces into things and more. They begin
to have their portrait painted, so the individual emerges as part of
the modern world. It has been a process for the last 20 years of
education to talk about cooperation, working with community and
eliminating individuality. Again, it's a reversal to perhaps the
desire to return to that past community spirit. I'm not saying it's
bad or good. I'm just talking about some of the changes that have
been taking place in this transitional era. And I'm not sure where
it's going to transition too. Obviously, part of the reason for
individuality and learning is -- and not the need of community -- is
the printing press and literacy. Education changes. We move from
authority being revealed knowledge to individuals believing that they
can learn, they can study, and then find truth through what we call
science. Which translates to, we move from scholasticism to the
beginnings of science to a world based in science. And of course
again, we're finding an attempt to eliminate that world of science
through something known as intelligent design. And the problem is
that science, as I identified early in this semester, often see
themselves now as the -- they're the ones who themselves have set up
this refusal to open the door to possibilities that may not be
acceptable probability -- I'm not saying that well. They become
dogmatic in simple terms.
Q Were we supposed to have a group meeting today?
THE PROFESSOR: Guess what? Why did you wait until the last
minute? I guess I got carried away in my desire. All right. I'll
give you the points for the group meeting unless you want have it
Q Do we have last class on Wednesday?
THE PROFESSOR: Why wouldn't be? Gobble gobble is on Thursday.
You prepare your turkeys and we'll see you Wednesday.