History I and II take students beyond the emphasis on the journalist’s questions, summary and précis and focuses on contextualizing primary sources, identifying ideas shared between authors, and thinking critically about what events shaped an author’s experiences, specifically to determine the author’s central thesis: What is the point of this text? What is the argument the author is trying to convince you of? The goal is to train students in the careful analysis of historical primary source documents – a prerequisite for the more independent research of junior and senior year.
History III and IV engage the modern world by asking higher-order questions that move beyond the inherent logic of the text itself. Students study the writings, speeches, and art of history’s most perceptive protagonists on humanity’s classic questions: What is greatness? What do we owe one another? What constitutes legitimate authority? What is the common good? What is the Human Person? What is truth? By the end of the four cycles, students are able to reflect upon these questions from the perspective of authors as diverse as Plato, St Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, James Madison, and Ronald Reagan.
Students in History III and IV are expected to extend the analytical skills they have learned in History I and II to the art of rhetoric, where they produce their own arguments with regard to historical problems. Using Socratic discussion, students are expected to offer a critical analysis of an historian’s interpretations of events and to advance their own positions with regard to historical phenomena.
Through their time in the History courses, students progress from single source guided research papers to full-length papers based upon self-directed research. They also learn to critically analyze the events of human history from the perspective of the Church’s revealed truth about God’s plan for the human person.
What are the Four Cycles?
Click here for a brief overview of the four cycles of our senior high curriculum!
Cycle I: Ancient
Cycle I begins with a survey of the origins of civilization in the Near East. The course then investigates Greece through the aftermath of Alexander’s conquests before turning to the origins and florescence of Rome through the death of Marcus Aurelius.
Students are trained in critical reading of historical primary source documents using our own reader with a wide array of excerpts from ancient sources, including the Code of Hammurabi, the Decrees of Cyrus, Hesiod’s Work and Days, fragments from Pre-Socratic philosophers, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Livy’s History of the Roman Republic, and Pliny the Younger’s Letter on Christian Persecution. Students read the Epic of Gilgamesh in its entirety, as well as large portions of The Histories of Herodotus, Plato’s Republic, Plutarch’s Life of Alexander, Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars.
Through these and many other rich primary sources, supplemented by lecture and textbook chapters written by the instructor as well as archaeological and art historical activities, students are immersed in the life and thought of the ancient Mediterranean world. Through the writing of two structured research papers and four short essays, students are prepared for the more independent research of the upper grades.
Cycle II: Medieval/Renaissance
Cycle II begins with the Fall of Rome and proceeds through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation, focusing on European history but also including non-Western sources. Students are trained in a critical reading of historical primary source documents using our own reader with a wide array of excerpts from St. Benedict, St. Bede, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux to the Charter of Cluny and Machiavelli. They read the documents from the trial of Joan of Arc and the Ordinances of Pistoia in time of Plague. Through these and many other rich primary sources, supplemented by the Catholic Textbook Project’s Light to the Nations, students are immersed in the life and thought of the Medieval world. Through the writing of two structured research papers students are prepared for the more independent research of the upper grades.
Cycle III: American History/Civics
History III studies the western world from the Age of Exploration in 1492 through the end of the American Reconstruction Era in 1877. The course provides both a transnational approach to the emergence of the modern world and an introduction to American civics. Elementary geography should have been learned by now, although some of the higher aspects of geographic thinking are emphasized, such as demography, human interaction with the environment, and graphing. Cycle III begins with a study of the philosophical precursors of the founding fathers and moves on to read from multiple sources that chronicle the preoccupations and crises that shaped our nation from figures such as Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Alexis de Toqueville and more.
Cycle IV: Enlightenment/Modern
History IV studies the West from the age of economic modernity in the early 19th century through the present. Like its counterpart, History III, it combines a chronological approach to history with topics in economics that correspond to the history in each unit. Taken together, History IV provides both a transnational approach to the emergence of the late modernity and an introduction to political economy. Of particular focus is the Catholic Response to the revolutionary changes following the 19th century, such as industrialization, Darwinism, the rise of the modern state, Communism, and Roe v. Wade.