Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom History
This course will cover some of the most significant Classics of Christian History, both East and West, beginning with the early 5th century and ending with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. We will read histories, chronicles, lives of the saints, and theological treatises having to do with some of the major controversies from this extremely important (but sometimes overlooked and/or misunderstood) period. Students will come away not only with an understanding of the scope and major themes, figures, and events of Church history, but also with the ability to think “historically”: How do we put together evidence into a coherent narrative that makes sense of the primary data and can still see the Holy Spirit working in the life of the Church? As a course within the classical “Great Books” tradition of the liberal arts curriculum, most of class time will be spent discussing the primary texts, with the instructor providing supplementary contextual data where relevant; optional secondary sources are also available to be read concurrently with the primary.
As a course within St. Raphael School, non-Orthodox students are welcome to enroll, but with the understanding that the instructor will approach the material from an explicitly Eastern Orthodox perspective, and will therefore at times need to be critical of, although not uncharitable to, the non-Orthodox materials. Historical thinking begins with understanding, not prejudice, and thus the instructor will often encourage students to read each text with empathy before rushing to evaluate whether it is “right” or “wrong.” This class can be taken by itself, but it is designed to be taken together with its sister course, Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom Literature, in a back-to-back block. Students who enroll in both courses will receive a discount on tuition.
This course focuses on history, but also integrates some study of medieval and Renaissance literature, helping students to see and enjoy the integration of both history and literature. In this upper-school course, students will examine and discuss events, trends, ideas, achievements, and failures found in these historical periods, while also comparing and contrasting such study with their own contemporary period. While students focus on primary classic texts, they also read a survey text for broader context and understanding.
Students are asked to consider and engage with carefully crafted questions as their window into the Great Conversation. Occasionally, the teacher will present historical context through brief lectures, but otherwise, classes are seminar-style discussions on the classical texts. Students are assessed for their curiosity, participation, and diligence during discussions, as well as by means of short response papers, essays, and occasional quizzes.
This class is paired with our high school course Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom Literature, taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back to back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone history study.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 11th–12th graders. Students are expected to have strong reading and writing skills as well as an interest in and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students enrolling in this course are expected to:
- Read at or above a 10th-grade level
- Compose paragraphs and basic essays with confidence
- Use a planner and track assignment progress
- Listen, take notes, and be willing to engage in group discussions (extroversion not required!)
- Type well enough to transcribe paragraphs without frustration
- Possess basic computer skills—browsing, accessing assignments, scanning, e-mailing, and managing files without significant help from parents
- Have some exposure to medieval history and have taken a course in the Great Books of antiquity
High School Credit: This course is the equivalent of one high school credit in history.
How much time will students spend on homework?
This varies according to each student’s pace. However, students are assigned approximately 1.5–2.5 hours of reading each week. Additional time may be required to supplement their own studying and paper or project development.
View Liberal Arts Curriculum Map
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be able to manage Schoology assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Schoology notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Schoology discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Schoology messaging.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
- Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
- Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
- Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).
- Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
- Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
Students will need the posted translation and ISBN. They will require printed texts (no digital editions). They will need their own text (not a family library copy) as they will be expected to annotate and mark the text. If you think you have a version that is substantially the same and would like to check, feel free to contact the instructor.
REQUIRED TEXTS (PRIMARY):
1. Evagrius Scholasticus, The Ecclesiastical History: 978-0853236054
2. Gregory the Great, The Life of St. Benedict: 978-0814632628
3. John of Damascus, Three Treatises on the Divine Images: 978-0881412451
4. Two Lives of Charlemagne: 978-0140455052
5. Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People: 978-0199537235
6. Photios the Great, The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit: 978-0916586881
7. Marvin Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives of Saints & Princes: 978-0930042448
8. Chronicles of the First Crusade: 978-0241955222
9. Anna Komnene, The Alexiad: 978-0140455274
10. Nestor, The Russian Primary Chronicle: 978-0915651320
11. Bonaventure, The Life of St. Francis: 978-0060576523
12. Norman Russell, Gregory Palamas: The Hesychast Controversy and the Debate with Islam: 978-1802077476
OPTIONAL SPINE TEXTS (SECONDARY):
1. John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: The Church AD 450-680: 978-0881410556
2. Andrew Louth, Greek East And Latin West: The Church AD 681-1071: 978-0881413205
3. Aristeides Papadakis, The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy: The Church AD
ADDITIONAL COURSE TEXTS: Other materials as provided by the instructor.
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course. When available, we have supplied links to Amazon for convenience, but you may purchase the materials wherever you prefer.
Dr. Alexander Titus is a learner, educator, translator, and Church historian, specializing in the Byzantine and medieval Western periods. He holds a BA (2011) in Classics from the University of Oregon, an MA (2015) and ThM (2016) from St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, and a PhD (2022) in Church History from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he wrote his dissertation on St. Gregory Palamas. His English translation of Palamas’ Triads is also forthcoming from St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (2023). Dr. Titus has come to believe strongly in the salvific value of classical education, not only for the soul of the individual Christian, but for the building up of the whole Church.
Dr. Titus currently lives in Springfield, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. His other interests include cooking, literature, visual arts (e.g., film, animation, games), volunteering in his local Orthodox community, and attempting, sometimes fruitlessly, to maintain a large rural property. He loves spending time with children and teaches part-time at his local Orthodox homeschooling resource center. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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