HIST 635: Problems in European History

HIST 635-001: Fall of the Roman Empire
(Fall 2024)

07:20 PM to 10:00 PM W

Peterson Hall 2408

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Section Information for Fall 2024

The passing away of the Roman Empire is a compelling idea that has captured minds for centuries. At its height in the second century AD, Rome was the most powerful state the ancient Mediterranean had ever seen. By the year 500, however, the Western Roman Empire had fragmented into several smaller successor kingdoms and the Empire’s Eastern half was forced to reorient itself away from the West. Explaining this dramatic change stands as one of the most difficult questions facing ancient historians and is as intractable a problem now as it always has been. It is a question that also, through Edward Gibbon’s, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), lies right at the root of Anglophone historiography.


This course will examine approaches both new and old to the Roman world as it slipped from its position of great power. We will consider both the state of the field as it stands right now, as well as a series of seminal older arguments that have shaped how we see the fall of Rome.

No prior experience with Roman history is expected. The fall of the Roman Empire is a complicated question to be sure, but it is also one with clear lines of debate argued forcefully (and in English), and as such presents ideal ground for graduate students wishing to hone that essential historical skill of coming up to speed in an unfamiliar field.


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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Investigates selected problems. Readings, discussions, development of bibliographies. Primary sources used where possible. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the term.
Specialized Designation: Topic Varies
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Junior Plus, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Graduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.