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Current Debates in Medieval and Early Modern History II


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


In this course we will be examining current debates in the history of medieval and early modern Europe. The aim of the literature seminars is both to acquaint you with historiographical developments and to let you think about the production of historical knowledge itself. We will therefore not just be charting how historical debates develop, but crucially also investigate why they do so. The course only runs for seven weeks. In these seven weeks, two topics will be discussed – see the description below for the topics on offer. Each student studies two topics over a period of seven weeks.

Nation and Identity in the Late Middle Ages
Part I, taught by Robert Stein
Semester II, weeks 1-3

Most historians are inclined to consider ‘national identity’ as something that only developed in the late eighteenth century; however, some speak of the appearance of ‘full-blown nationalism’ in the late Middle Ages. In this course we will explore the concept of national identity and discuss several case studies. The central question will be, if the identities attached to the late-medieval principalities are comparable to modern national identities.

Gender in Early Modern Europe
Part II, taught by Dr. Felicia Roșu
Semester II, weeks 5-7

Women’s and gender studies have greatly developed in the last few decades. They shed new light on medieval and early modern Europe, sometimes questioning established notions and traditional periodization (such as ‘the Renaissance’), or challenging our understanding of the relationship between power, identity, gender, and sexuality. In our meetings, we will explore the following themes:
a) the main theoretical developments in women’s and gender studies (20th-21st centuries)
b) the main ideas about femininity and masculinity in pre-modern (western) Europe and their analytical relevance.

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
    • in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodization and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field;
    1. (ResMA only): Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Literature Seminar
The student:

    1. Has a clear understanding of the character of collective identities and their meaning for the functioning and self-fashoning of late medieval polities.
    1. Gains insight in the development of ideas about femininity and masculinity in pre-modern Europe and is able to engage in current debates on gender from a historical perspective.


See Timetable and deadlines History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours

  • Seminars (2 hours per week during 6 weeks): 12 hours.

  • Study of compulsory literature: 100 hours.

  • Preparation oral presentations: 48 hours.

  • Writing of 2 essays/review articles: 120 hours.

Assessment method


  • Essays
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 2, 4 (ResMA also: 6)

  • Assignment 1 (Participation and small assignments)
    Measured learning objectives: 2, 4, (ResMA also: 6)

For part I and II Research Master students write essays in which they review two books and also demonstrate skills as formulated in course objectives 4 and 6.

Written essays (2): 50% (=25% each)
Oral presentation: 25%
Assignment 1: 25%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that both written papers must always be sufficient.

Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.


Blackboard is used in this course for announcements and to supply course materials.

Reading list

For part I
First session (read the following before class):

  • Anderson, Benedict Richard O’Gorman. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 1991. 1-7. On BB

  • Davies, R.R., ‘The peoples of Britain and Ireland, 1100-1400 I. Identities’, Transactions of the Royal historical society, series 6,4 (1994) 1-20. On BB

  • Davies, R.R., ‘The peoples of Britain and Ireland, 1100-1400 II. Names, boundaries and regnal solidarities’, Transactions of the Royal historical society, series 6,5 (1995) 1-20. On BB

  • R. R. Davies, R.R., ‘The peoples of Britain and Ireland, 1100-1400 III. Laws and customs’, Transactions of the Royal historical society, series 6,6 (1996) 1-20. On BB

  • Davies, R.R., ‘The peoples of Britain and Ireland, 1100-1400 IV. Language and historical mythology’, Transactions of the Royal historical society, series 6,7 (1997) 1-24. On BB

  • Gorski, P.S., ‘The Mosaic Moment: An Early Modernist Critique of Modernist Theories of Nationalism’, American journal of sociology 105 (2000) 1428-1468. Available via UB Leiden

  • Hoppenbrouwers P.C.M. (2010), ‘The dynamics of national identity in the later Middle Ages’. In: Stein Robert, Pollmann Judith (Eds.) Networks, regions, and nations: shaping identities in the Low Countries, 1300-1650 (Leiden, Boston 2010) 19-41. On BB.

Second session (read the following before class):

  • To be announced

Third session (read the following before class):

  • To be announced

For part II
First session (read the following before class):

  • Kelly, Joan. ‘Did Women Have a Renaissance?’ in Women, History & Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly,
    19–50. Chicago, 1984. (available online via UB)

  • Budd, Adam. ‘History and Sexual Identity’. in The Modern Historiography Reader: Western Sources,
    379-420. Routledge Readers in History. London, 2009. (available on Blackboard under Course Documents)

Second session (read the following before class):

  • Schama, Simon. ‘Housewives and Hussies: Homeliness and Worldliness’ in The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, 375-480. London, 1987. (3 copies of the book are available in the library)

  • Roberts, Benjamin. Sex and Drugs before Rock ‘N’ Roll: Youth Culture and Masculinity during Holland’s Golden Age. Amsterdam, 2012. (available online via UB)


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Part 1 – dhr. Dr. R. Stein
Part 2 – mw. Dr. F. Rosu