North Island College Spring 2021

Delivery Format: Digital Learning Unscheduled (We will not meet as a group via videoconferencing, though there will be at least a couple of optional BlueJeans group sessions. We are on a very compressed schedule and you will be expected to spend an average of 8+ hours a week on this course from the beginning of the semester).

Dates: May 3 - June 18

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office Hours:  There will be regular opportunities to schedule one-on-one video meetings.

Office Phone: 250-334-5000, Extension 4024

Web-Site: http://www.misterdann.com/

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

Required Book

Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna, Age of Discovery: Navigating The Storms Of Our Second Renaissance (New York: Bloomsbury, 2017).

***It is important that you this book.  It is available for purchase ($24) at the NIC Bookstore.  Four copies are on reserve at the Comox Valley branch of the NIC Library.  I also have included an e-text link above.

Course Description

History 215 is offered as an introduction to the most significant trends in European history from the late Medieval era to the French Revolution.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive survey in which you are taught "all you need to know" but is designed to highlight several important issues loosely organized within a chronological framework.  We will be dealing with broad themes: the growth of commercial capitalism; the rise of the nation state; the impact of such intellectual movements as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment; and the expansion of European power, commerce, and culture to the Americas, Asia, and Africa.  But we will also try to bring history back down to the personal level.  How did people create meaning in their own lives?  How did they shape their world, and how, in turn, were they shaped by events, by social structure, and by other people?  We will approach such questions through a mixture of lecture presentation, class discussion, reading, student research, slide shows, and video.

Learning Outcomes

1.  Explain the emergence of the early modern state system.

2.  Assess the changing role of religion in early modern society.

3.  Describe the positions of men and women in early modern society.

4.  Analyze the structure of society in the early modern period.

5.  Analyze the strength of the principal status groups at various times during the early modern period.

6.  Explain the impact of intellectual developments (for example the scientific revolution and the enlightenment) on early modern society.

7.  Trace the economic history of early modern Europe.

8.  Describe the differences (where they exist) between eastern and western Europe between 1450 and 1800.

9.  Account for the French Revolution.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1  (May 3-9): Introduction To Course And Early Modern Spain

Orientation For Week 1

HIS 215 Scavenger Hunt

Mister Dan Page HIS 215 Orientation Exercise

Discussion Forum Contributions

HIS 215 Scavenger Hunt

Early Modern Spain In The News

Pandemic Playhouse: Reconquest

Listening And Viewing

  "Reconquest," Episode 2, Blood And Gold: The Making Of Spain, BBC, 2015 (52 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

"The Invention Of Spain, Episode 1," BBC Radio 4, August 24, 2015 (30 mins).

Reading Assignment

Roger Crowley, "The First Global Empire," History Today, 65 (October 2015): 10-17.

Browse extensively in Early Modern Spain In The News Discussion Topic

Instructor Powerpoint: Europe 1492

Optional Extras:

"The Age Of Exploration: Crash Course European History #4," May 3, 2019 (16 mins).

"Expansion And Consequences: Crash Course European History #5," May 11, 2019 (17 mins).

  "When Worlds Collide," PBS, 2010 (38 mins).

"The Dark Heart," Episode 1, The Art Of Spain, BBC 4, 2008 (59 mins).

***Letter Of Introduction Due through Blackboard Learn (1%)

Week 2  (May 10-16): Renaissance

Orientation For Week 2

Discussion Forum Contributions

Pandemic Playhouse: Comparing Renaissance Unchained and Medici -- Godfathers Of The Renaissance

Women, Jews, and the Renaissance

Machiavelli and the Renaissance

Listening And Viewing

"The Renaissance: Was It A Thing?," Crash Course World History #22, June 21, 2012 (12 mins).

  "Gods, Myths And Oil Paints," Episode 1, Renaissance Unchained, BBC, 2016 (60 mins).

  "Magnificent Medici," Episode 2, Medici -- Godfathers Of The Renaissance, PBS, 2004 (55 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

Reading Assignment

Browse in Renaissance In The News Discussion Topic

Andrea Frediani, "Becoming Machiavelli," National Geographic History (September/October 2020): 76-89.

"Was There A Women's Renaissance?: We Ask Four Historians Whether The Great Advances Of The Renaissance Were Extended To Women," History Today, 70 (November 2020): 8-10.

Browse in Venice Ghetto Discussion Topic.

Renaissance Era Exercise

Complete the How Machiavellian Are You Quiz

Optional Extras: I go overboard with Optional Extras a few times during the semester.  This is one of those times!  There are more than 10 hours of extra documentaries included below, and some extra readings as well.  I do not expect you to necessarily get through any of this supplementary material and I certainly do not expect you to get through all of it.  But there are so many excellent videos about the Renaissance, and the one-hour documentaries featured in the required Viewing Assignments above are each a single episode from superb four-hour series.  And, in my opinion, the Waldermar Januszcza's idiosyncratic introduction to the Renaissance and the PBS series on the Medici Dynasty of Florence serve as wonderful foils.  Andrew Graham-Dixon's two-hour feature on the artist and historian Giorgio Vasari also fits in very well with the two major series.  One of the advantages of the Journal is that you do not need to spend the same amount of time on every single week.  You can go in-depth on topics of particular interest and, for some of you, the Renaissance may be one of those topics.  Note that your Journal is due on Sunday, March 16.  You should hand in your Journal by the end of Sunday, though there would be nothing stopping you from continuing on with your study of the Renaissance beyond that day and then including some more Renaissance material in the next installment of your Journal.

Renaissance Unchained, BBC, 2016

Episode 2, "Whips, Deaths And Madonnas," (60 mins).

Episode 3, "Silk, Sex And Sin,"(60 mins).

Episode 4, "Hell, Snakes And Giants," (60 mins).

Medici -- Godfathers Of The Renaissance, PBS, 2004 (55 mins).

Episode 1, Birth Of A Dynasty (55 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

Episode 3, Medici Pope (55 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

Episode 4, Power Vs. Truth (55 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

  "Travels With Vasari, Part 1," BBC, 2008:  Andrew Graham-Dixon's marvelous encounter with the Lives of the Artists.

"Travels With Vasari, Part 2," BBC, 2008.

  "Who's Afraid Of Machiavelli?," Imagine, BBC, 2013.

Browse in Machiavelli's The Prince Discussion Topic

ed. Time-Life, "The Italian Renaissance," Voyages Of Discovery: TimeFrame AD 1400-1500.  Alexandra, Virginia: 1989: 42-64.

"The Medici: Makers Of Modern Art," BBC, 2008.

    "The Renaissance Factor," Part I, DW, April 28, 2019 (42 mins).

"The Renaissance Factor," Part II, DW, April 28, 2019 (42 mins)

"History Of Ideas: The Renaissance," School Of Life, November 6, 2015 (18 mins).

***Sunday, May 16:  First Journal Installment Due through Blackboard Learn (Use either the Regular Journal [Option 1] or the Note-Taking/Journal Combo [Option 2] format)  [15%]

Week 3  (May 17-23): Reformation And The Counter-Reformation

Orientation Week 3

Discussion Forum Contributions

The Reformation At 500

Pandemic Playhouse:  Week 1 - Week 3 Documentaries

Listening And Viewing

"An Introduction To The Protestant Reformation," Khan Academy, 2013:

Setting The Stage, Part 1 (8 minutes)

Martin Luther, Part 2 (11 minutes)

Varieties Of Protestantism, Part 3 (8 minutes)

The Counter-Reformation, Part 4 (10 minutes)

  "Martin Luther," PBS, 2002 (110 mins):  Part 1; Part 2.  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

Reading Assignment

Diarmaid MacCulloch, "Europe's Holy War: How The Reformation Convulsed A Continent," BBC History Magazine (May 2017): 34-37.

Browse extensively in Reformation At 500 Discussion Topic.

Browse in Wars Of Religion In The News Discussion Topic.

Peter H. Wilson, "Europe's Apocalypse," BBC History Magazine (June 2018): 50-55.

Optional Extras

ed. Time-Life, "The Church Divided," European Emergence: TimeFrame AD 1500-1600.  Alexandra, Virginia: 1989: 9-31.

"Reformation: The Individual Before God," Episode 4, A History Of Christianity, BBC 4, 2011 (59 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

  "The Jesuits," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, January 18, 2007 (45 minutes).

Peter Marshall, Reformation: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford, 2009.  This is a short book-length overview of the Reformation.

Week 4  (May 24-30): Age Of Discovery And Scientific Revolution

Orientation Week 4

Age Of Discovery

Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna, Age Of Discovery: Navigating The Storms Of Our Second Renaissance (New York: Bloomsbury, 2017).

  "What The Renaissance Can Teach Us About Trump And Our Disruptive Age," Current, CBC, September 6, 2016 (25 mins).

"What The Renaissance Can Teach Us About Our Disruptive Age, Part 2," Current, CBC, September 7, 2016 (25 mins).

Mini-Essay Instructions:  Age Of Discovery

Discussion Forum Contributions

Age Of Discovery

Pandemic Playhouse: Galileo's Battle For The Heavens

Scientific Revolution In The News

Listening And Viewing

"Scientific Revolution: Crash Course European History #12," July 14, 2019 (15 mins).

  "Galileo's Battle For The Heavens," Nova, PBS, 2002 (120 mins).

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Scientific Revolution In The News Discussion Topic.

***Sunday, May 30:  Age Of Discovery Mini-Essay Due (19%)

Week 5  (May 31 - June 6): A Focus On Britain

Orientation Week 5

Discussion Forum Contributions

The English Civil War And Today

Pandemic Playhouse: The Lost Genius Of British Art -- William Dobson

English Civil War In The News

Imagined Communities: Britain As A Case Study

Reading Assignment

Hephzibah Anderson, "Why We Can't Get Enough Of The Tudors," BBC Culture (February 28, 2020).

ed. Time-Life, "Civil War In England," Powers Of The Crown: TimeFrame AD 1600-1700.  Alexandra, Virginia: 1989: 78-102.

Neil Jones, "Oliver Cromwell: Hero Or Villain?," Britain, 80 (July 2012): 63-68.

Browse extensively in English Civil War In The News Discussion Topic.

Misha Glenny, "The Anglocentric View We Have Of British History Is Unsustainable," BBC History History Magazine (March 2019).

Listening And Viewing

"English Civil War: Crash Course European History #14," August 6, 2019 (15 mins).

  "The Lost Genius Of British Art: William Dobson," BBC, 2011 (59 mins).

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in the "There'll Always Be An England": Nations As Imagined Communities Discussion Topic

  "Tales Of Tudor Travel: The Explorer's Handbook," BBC 4, 2018 (29 mins).

"Common Good: The World Turned Upside Down," CBC Ideas:

Part 1, April 5, 2021 (54 mins).

Part 2, April 13, 2021 (54 mins).

"Mirror, Mirror: Northern Ireland," Blood And Belonging, Films Media Group, 1994 (50 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

  "First Indian Visitor Describes England And European Life In 1785, 'Wonders Of Vilayet' Primary Source," Voices Of The Past, October 2, 2020 (24 mins).

Miranda Kaufmann, "The Air Of Freedom: Before The British Empire And The Atlantic Slave Trade, Africans Lived Freely In Tudor England," History Today, 68 (January 2018): 18-20.

Jonathan Healey, "What Sparked The Civil War?," BBC History Magazine, 19 (August 2018): 22-27.

Christopher Thompson, "Kingdoms Come Apart," History Today, 70 (April 2020)

Bethany Marsh, "A War Of Words: Politics, Propaganda And Censorship During The Civil War," History Today, 70 (August 2020)

Kate Loveman, "Putting The Realm Back Together," BBC History Magazine, 20 (November 2019): 43-48.

***Sunday, June 6:  Second Journal Installment Due (Use either the Regular Journal [Option 1] or the Note-Taking/Journal Combo [Option 2] format):  This is an ungraded but compulsory submission.  Those students who do not submit a journal installment at this time will incur an academic penalty.  You should include all the Journal work you have completed to this point in the semester as a single file through Blackboard at this time.

Week 6  (June 7-13): Of Absolutism And Enlightenment

Orientation Week 6

Discussion Forum Contributions

The Power Of The Sun King

Pandemic Playhouse: Vienna -- Empire, Dynasty And Dream

Pandemic Playhouse: Week 4 - Week 6 Documentaries

A Riddle Wrapped In A Mystery Inside An Enigma?: Russian History

Listening And Viewing

"Absolute Monarchy: Crash Course European History #13," July 27, 2019 (13 mins).

  "The Real Versailles With Lucy Worsley And Helen Castor," BBC, 2016 (54 mins).

  "Episode 2, Vienna: Empire, Dynasty And Dream," BBC, 2016 (59 mins).  This documentary can also be viewed through the NIC Library's Films On Demand.

"The Enlightenment: Crash Course European History #18," September 9, 2019 (16 mins).

Reading Assignment

Philip Mansel, "King Of The World," BBC History Magazine, 20 (December 2019): 50-55.

Tim Marshall, "Russia And The Curse Of Geography," Atlantic (October 31, 2015).

Browse in Early Modern Russia In The News Discussion Topic.

Optional Extras

Browse in Russian Statues Discussion Topic.

Janet Hartley, "Hypocrite, Reactionary, Usurper, Sex Maniac?," BBC History Magazine (October 2019): 54-59.

"The Rise Of Russia And Prussia: Crash Course European History #17," August 27, 2019 (15 mins).

  "Frederick The Great And The Enigma Of Prussia," BBC, 2012 (59 mins).

"Out Of The Forest," Episode 1, Art Of Russia, BBC 4, 2011 (59 mins).

  "The Building Of St. Petersburg," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, April 23, 2009 (45 mins).

"Icons Of Power: Catherine The Great," National Geographic, 2007 (92 mins).

  "Power Of Knowledge," Episode 1, Heroes Of The Enlightenment, BBC Worldwide, 2011 (52 minutes).

"Changing Society," Episode 2, Heroes Of The Enlightenment, BBC Worldwide, 2011 (52 minutes).

"The Encyclopedie," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, October 26, 2006 (45 mins).

Week 7  (June 14-20): "It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times": French Revolution

Orientation Week 7

Discussion Forum Contributions

Pandemic Playhouse: Tearing Up History

What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution?

French Revolution In The News

Listening And Viewing

"The French Revolution," History Channel, 2005 (90 mins).

  "The French Revolution: Tearing Up History," BBC 4, 2014 (59 mins).

Reading Assignment

Jeremy Popkin, "Vive Le Revolution!: Must Radical Political Change Generate Uncontainable Violence?: The French Revolution Is Both A Cautionary And Inspiring Tale," Aeon (January 20, 2020).

Robert Darnton, "What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution?," New York Review Of Books (January 19, 1989).

Browse extensively in French Revolution In The News Discussion Topic.

Optional Extras

"The French Revolution: Crash Course World History #29," August 10, 2012 (12 mins).

  "Terror: Robespierre And The French Revolution," BBC, 2009 (91 mins).

"The French Revolution," 1989, Les Films Ariane:  This is a 5 1/2 hour French production released on the 200th anniversary of the Revolution.  You will need to turn sub-titles on in your settings.

"Part 1"

"Part 2"

  Living The French Revolution And The Age Of Napoleon Course, Great Courses (48 episodes):  An in-depth course from Princeton historian Suzanne Desan.  This is an option I only include for true keeners.  And you will need a Vancouver Island Public Library card to gain access to this video course.  But anyone who wants to learn much more about the French Revolution that can be taught in a brief intersession Early Modern European History survey may want to dive into this course.  Another excellent resource is Mike Duncan's Mike Duncan's comprehensive 55-episode podcast overview of the The French Revolution.

William Doyle, French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford, 2001.  This is a short book-length overview of the French Revolution.

***Saturday, June 19:  Final Journal Installment Due (Use either the Regular Journal [Option 1] or the Note-Taking/Journal Combo [Option 2] format) [38%]:  Please submit your entire semester Journal at this time through Blackboard as a single file.


Letter Of Introduction 


Pandemic Playhouse Discussion Forum Contributions


Other Discussion Forum Contributions


First Journal Hand-In (Two Weeks Into Course)


Age Of Discovery Mini-Essay


Final Journal Hand-In


a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least one hundred words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole. You need not use the following questions as direct cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin HIS 215?  How familiar are you already with European History?  Have you already engaged in the formal study of European History and, if so, what has that involved?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction.  Submit your Letter of Introduction to me through the Blackboard Learn site ( https://learn.nic.bc.ca).

b)  Age Of Discovery Mini-Essay (19%)

The Age of Discovery mini-essay will ask you to respond to the argument put forth by Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna that the study of the Age of the European Renaissance can help us to put our own fast-changing era into perspective.

It is fundamentally important that you get this book and that you then offer a response based upon your interpretation of the text.  Mini-essays derived from reviews or second-hand summaries will be deemed to be unacceptable.  Full instructions for the reading response will be posted on the Assignment Page.

The Age of Discovery mini-essay will be due on Sunday, May 30, at the end of the fourth week of the semester.

c)  The Journal (15% + 38%)= 53%

The student Journal will be the most substantial assignment in this course.  It will represent your on-going engagement with the core class curriculum.  The focus of the Journal should be on analysis, interpretation, and commentary.  It should consist of a series of short writings of varying lengths about the course material.  I refer to these short writings as entries.  The purpose of the journal is to provide you with the opportunity for frequent thoughtful and analytical commentary upon course-related material.

I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo.  These are described in detail on the Assignment Page of my web-site.  You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.

This assignment is designed to be coordinated with the on-line Blackboard Discussion Forums.  Your Journal entries will overlap with many of the Discussion Forum topics.  It is fully appropriate to share commentary from your Journal with classmates in the relevant Pandemic Playhouse or Discussion Topic Forums.

It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the semester, writing in it on a weekly basis.  You will need to hand in the Journal to me three times.

You will submit your Journal-in-Progress to me through the Blackboard site on Sunday, March 16.  I want to check to ensure that you are off to a good start during our compressed seven-week semester, and that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment.  This submission will be graded and is worth 15% of your course grade.

The Journal will again be due at the five-week mark of the semester.  This check-in is ungraded but mandatory.  I want to review what progress you are making.  Those students who do not submit a Journal installment at this time will incur an academic penalty.  You should include all the Journal work you have completed to this point in the semester as a single file through Blackboard at this time.

You will hand in your Journal a third and final time at the end of the semester, on Saturday, June 19.  You should submit your entire semester Journal at this time through Blackboard as a single file.  This submission will be graded and is worth 38% of your course grade.

d)  Discussion Forum Contributions (27%) (Pandemic Playhouse Contributions [15%] and Other Discussion Forum Contributions [12%])

The Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates.  You should try to offer commentary upon a weekly basis.  Evaluation will be based not just upon the number of contributions but rather more on the level of their thoughtfulness, with added appreciation for genuine engagement with fellow students.  Although there will be very considerable flexibility in regards to your contribution schedule, and while I will leave up discussion forums throughout the semester, those students who do not regularly and recurrently contribute to the forums will see this reflected in their grades and evaluation.

The Discussion Forums will be divided into your reflections upon the course documentaries (Pandemic Playhouse) and your discussions upon other course materials.  This is in part to emphasize the importance that I attach to the HIS 215 viewing responsibilities.  There are several feature videos that rest near the heart of the curriculum.  The Discussion Forum Contributions are a very important component of the semester and will combine for 27% of the overall course grade.

As mentioned above, it is fine to have considerable overlap between your Discussion Forum Contributions and your Journal entries.  But it is expected that you will put considerable time and thought into each Discussion Forum Contribution and that each contribution will represent your original ideas.  Do not make any Pandemic Playhouse comments on documentaries that you have not watched yourself.

There will typically be three or more Discussion Forums each week.  You certainly are not expected to contribute to each of these forums.  I hesitate to suggest a quantitative target, but would estimate that engaged students will have 12 or more contributions by the end of the term.

Time Commitment

We are on a very tight time schedule with a seven-week semester.  I have made some adjustments to the curriculum but we will still be proceeding at quite an intense pace.  Although the time it takes individual students to complete course responsibilities varies individually, I have set up the course with the expectation that you will probably need to devote at least eight hours a week to this course on a regular basis right from the start of the semester.  It is important that you not fall behind on your assignments.  Please stay in close communication with me and let me know if you are experiencing challenges in keeping up with the curriculum.

Late Policy

The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, in which most assignments are cumulative and on-going.  Discussion amongst students is also dependent upon classmates keeping current with their studies.  Late assignments are also often an extra burden from an instructor standpoint..  Due dates should be noted and met.

However, I appreciate that there may be occasions where a very few extra days to polish an assignment in the midst of competing deadlines can be helpful, and thus I deliberately assume a good-faith effort on the part of students to meet the due dates and provide a small cushion of flexibility without any academic penalty.   That does not mean the due dates are unimportant or that extensions are automatically granted.  You must discuss possible extensions with me directly.  I reserve the right to reject any assignment that is more than one week late.

Discussion Forum contributions should ideally be made the week of the discussion itself and will be considered late if made more than two weeks after we have moved to a new topic.  Your ability to maintain this schedule will have a major impact upon your Class Participation Grade.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at https://library.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here..  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.  I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort. 

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)

Welcome To The Course



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