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Western Civilization Exercises
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These exercises are meant to act as a stimulus and a guide for students to further their inquiry into the seven main themes of the Chambers' text: social structure,the body politic, evolution of economic systems, evolution of the family and changing gender roles, war, religion, and cultural expression. There will be a special emphasis on the evolution of family and gender roles.

Exercise 1

The Gods and Goddesses of Mesopotamia

Religion and gender roles have been very closely connected throughout history. Explore the world of the gods and goddesses of Mesopotamia. Then answer the following questions:


How do the gods' roles compare to those of the goddesses?

Exercise 2

Gender Bender

Explore the links below, then compare and contrast attitudes toward homo- and bi-sexuality among ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, and Modern Europe. Then relate how such attitudes reflect generally on the respective societies.


People with a History


Open Directory Project Guide to Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual History

Exercise 3

The Hidden Power of Ancient Grecian women

Athenian women were not allowed to read and write as women of Sparta were. Athenian women still had some important subtle powers in society as research has revealed.


What were those powers?


How did the status of Athenian and Spartan women reflect on their respective societies?

Exercise 4

Newly Found Powers of Women of Early Christianity

Karen L. King, a Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity School, has compiled new discoveries in the last 20 years which have shed new light on the roles of women in early Christian history.


Why have these revelations only come to light in the last 20 years? What kind of lesson is this in historiography?


What do these revelations tell us about the broader importance of women in ancient Christian societies?

Exercise 5

The Fall of Rome


How did the interplay of religion, family dynamics, social structures, war campaigns, peace negotiations and bodies politic influence the demise of Rome?

Exercise 6

Crusading Women


What were some of the surprising roles that women of the Crusades played in war, economics, the home front, and politics?

Exercise 7

Married to the Middle


How did marriage in the Middle Ages fit in with the economic, religious, and social structures of the times?

Exercise 8

Urban Roots


What foundations of urban systems found in today's towns have roots in the Medieval English towns?

Exercise 9

Six Wives of Henry VIII


How did the six wives of Henry VIII influence religion, politics, family, and social dynamics in 16th century England?


How were they affected by the above factors?


How were each of the wives able to exert power, even when confronted by their powerful husband?

How would you assess the changing power dynamics of each wife?
How does the story of Henry VIII's six wives reflect on general gender politics in 16th century England?

Exercise 10

Renaissance of the Family


How was Family Life different in the Renaissance period from it is now?

How did the structure of the family result in different responsibilities for the women, men, and children within the family?

Exercise 11

Power in the House Hapsburg


How was marriage used as a tool of power in House of Hapsburg?

Exercise 12

sans-culottes movement


Why was the sans-culottes movement important to the French Revolution of 1789 and later revolutions?


As the first working class movement that incorporated both a political stance and a social condition, what were its most lasting legacies?

Exercise 13

The Power of the Pen


How can cultural expression influence change as exemplified by women writers of 19th century France?

Exercise 14

The Victorian Age


What values of the Victorian Age have laid the basis for modern society?


What Victorian values have we discarded or re-examined in the post modern age?

Exercise 15

Visual Power


How did the art of World War II posters persuade people of the time?

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