Civilization in the West, Penguin Academic Edition, Combined Volume:
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We made a number of decisions early in the project that we believed contributed to our goal. First, we were not writing an encyclopedia on Western civilization. Information was not to be included in a chapter unless it related to the themes of that chapter. There was to be no information for information's sake, and each of us was called upon to defend the inclusion of names, dates, and events whenever we met to critique one another's chapters. We found, to our surprise, that by adhering to the principle that information included must contribute to or illustrate a particular point or dominating theme, we provided as much, if not more, material than books that habitually list names, places, and dates without any second context.
Second, we were committed to integrating the history of ordinary men and women into our narrative. We believe that isolated sections, placed at the end of chapters, that deal with the experience of women or minority groups in a particular era profoundly distort historical experience. We called this technique caboosing, and whenever we found ourselves segregating women or families or the masses, we stepped back and asked how we might recast our treatment of historical events to account for a diversity of actors. How did ordinary men, women, and children affect the course of historical events? How did historical events affect the fabric of daily life for men, women, and children from all walks of life? We tried to rethink critical historical problems of civilization as gendered phenomena. To assist us in the endeavor, we engaged two reviewers whose sole responsibility was to evaluate our chapters for the integration of those social groups into our discussion.
We took the same approach to the coverage of central and eastern Europe that we did to women and minorities. Even before the epochal events of 1989 that returned this region to the forefront of international attention, we realized that in too many textbooks the Slavic world was treated as marginal to the history of Western civilization. Thus, with the help of a specialist reviewers, we worked to integrate more of the history of eastern Europe into our text than is found in most others, and to do so in a way that presented the regions, their cultures, and their institutions as integral rather than peripheral to Western civilization.
To construct a book that students would want to read, we needed to develop fresh ideas about how to involve them with the material, how to transform them from passive recipients to active participants. We borrowed from computer science the concept of being "user-friendly." We wanted to find ways to stimulate the imagination of the student, and the more we experimented with different techniques, the more we realized that the most effective way to do this was visually. It is not true that contemporary students cannot be taught effectively by the written word; it is only true that they cannot be taught as effectively as they can by the combination of words and images: the pictorial chapter openers; the large number of maps; the geographical tours of Europe at certain times in history; and the two-page special feature essays, each with its own illustration.
Mark Kishlansky is Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of English and European History and has served as the Associate Dean of the Faculty at Harvard University. He was educated at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he first studied history, and at Brown University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1977. For 16 years, he taught at the University of Chicago and was a member of the staff that taught Western Civilization. Currently, he lectures on the History of Western Civilization at Harvard. Professor Kishlansky is a specialist on seventeenth-century English political history and has written, among other works, A Monarchy Transformed, The Rise of the New Model Army, and Parliamentary Selection: Social and Political Choice in Early Modern England. From 1984 to 1991, he was editor of the Journal of British Studies as well as from 2003-2009, the general editor of History Compass, the first on-line history journal. He is also the general editor for Pearson Custom Publishing’s source and interpretations databases, which provide custom book supplements for Western Civilization courses.
Patrick Geary holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University and has broad experience in interdisciplinary approaches to European history and civilization. He has served as the director of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame as well as director for the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is currently Distinguished Professor of History. He has also held positions at the University of Florida and Princeton University and has taught at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Central European University in Budapest, and the University of Vienna. His many publications include Readings in Medieval History; Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World; Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium; The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe; and Women at the Beginning: Origin Myths from the Amazons to the Virgin Mary.</P>
Patricia O’Brien is a specialist in modern French cultural and social history and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She has held appointments at Yale University, the University of California, Irvine, the University of California, Riverside, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Between 1995 and 1999, Professor O’Brien worked to foster collaborative interdisciplinary research in the humanities as director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute. Since 2004, she has served as Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science at UCLA. Professor O’Brien has published widely on the history of French crime and punishment, cultural theory, urban history, and gender issues. Representative publications include The Promise of Punishment: Prisons in Nineteenth-Century France; “The Kleptomania Diagnosis: Bourgeois Women and Theft in Late Nineteenth-Century France” in Expanding the Past: A Reader in Social History; and “Michel Foucault’s History of Culture” in The New Cultural History, edited by Lynn Hunt. Professor O’Brien’s commitment to this textbook grew out of her own teaching experiences in large, introductory Western civilization courses. She has benefited from the contributions of her students and fellow instructors in her approach to the study of Western civilization in the modern period.