History | Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
C390 | 24982 | Watts

A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section carries culture studies credit
Above section open to undergraduates only

The idea of the Roman Empire is a powerful one that has captured
minds for centuries.  At its height in the second century AD, Rome
was the most powerful state the Mediterranean region (and perhaps
the world) had ever seen.  By the seventh century, however, the
Western European parts of the Roman Empire had splintered into a
number of smaller kingdoms and the Empire’s Eastern half was
threatened with destruction.  Explaining this dramatic change stands
as one of the most difficult questions facing ancient historians.

This class will examine the Roman world as it slips from its
position of great power.  We will focus upon the political,
military, and social changes that accompanied Rome’s decline, but
the course will devote just as much attention to the impact that
these developments had on the lives of individual Romans.  In the
course of the semester, we will discuss such themes as the
relationship between paganism and Christianity, the impact of social
and political change on daily life, and role of violence in the
lives of Romans.  In so doing, students will come to appreciate both
the variety of source materials that a historian can use to
reconstruct details of ancient life and the challenges that these
materials can present.

Students will be expected to complete readings in both ancient and
modern historical sources.  Assignments will include one short paper
(1-2 pages), a term paper (6-8 pages), a midterm, and a final