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Current Debates in Medieval and Early Modern History I

Vak
2018-2019

Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.

Description

In this course we will examine two current debates in the history of medieval and early modern Europe. The aim of the literature seminars is both to let students get acquainted with historiographical developments and have them 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.

Group 101

Topic I: Memory

Teacher: Judith Pollmann, weeks 1-3

Considering the enormous interest in ‘memory’ that has pervaded the historical and social sciences since about 1990, early modernists were ‘late adapters’. Yet in recent years there has been a flood of new studies considering different aspects of the theory, practice and impact of memory in early modern societies, focusing for instance on war memories, the politics of oblivion, and issues regarding memory and political and religious identity. In our classes we will first look at some of the basic premises of the memory studies field, before zooming in on the particularities of early modern memory practices, considering for instance the multimedia aspect of memory culture, the question who controlled public memory, and the role of subaltern memory cultures.

Topic II: Pilgrimage as travel in the late medieval en early modern period

Teacher: Marianne Ritsema van Eck, weeks 4-6

Devout pilgrimage has generally been taken as the main mode of non-utilitarian travel of the Middle Ages, while curious, explorative travel for educational or scientific purposes is commonly associated with the early modern period. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem has often been represented as one of the first and major casualties, ending abruptly in the first decades of the sixteenth century due to the combined influences of the Reformation (which rejected it as superstitious), the development of new types of non-religious travel, and shifting power balances in Mediterranean, in the wake of the Ottoman conquest.
Recently, a number of historians have begun to question the traditional binary of medieval, religious (Catholic), devout pilgrimage vs. early modern secular, curious travel from different angles. In this course, we will discuss various arguments for challenging or adjusting this traditional paradigm, with Jerusalem pilgrimage/travel as our main case study. In The Road to Jerusalem: Pilgrimage and Travel in the Age of Discovery (2007), F. Thomas Noonan argues for pilgrimage as an important form of early modern travel. Taking this monograph as a starting point we will consider whether medieval pilgrimage might be curious and explorative in its own right, and examine the possibility of recognizing Early Modern or even Protestant pilgrimage. Based on a recent evaluations by Zur Shalev, the seminar will also review the ubiquitous point of view that Jerusalem pilgrimage became a literary, arm-chair travel at the end of the middle ages, rather than an actual phenomenon.

Group 102

Topic I: Communication and Conflict. New Approaches in the History of Diplomacy

Teacher: Louis Sicking, weeks 4-6

One of the oldest fields in the discipline of history is the study of diplomacy. It is also often considered to be one of the most old-fashioned, conservative and Eurocentric, isolated from other areas of investigation and not susceptible to the theoretical and methodological innovations that have transformed almost other sector of the profession. These criticisms are only in part true. In the last decades diplomatic history has been very much influenced by other disciplines, especially the study of politics and anthropology. This course aims to analyse the developments in the historiography of medieval and early modern diplomacy since 1950. Special attention will be paid to new initiatives to innovate the study of the practice of diplomacy, its evolution, theory and administration.

Topic II: Memory

Teacher: Judith Pollmann, weeks 4-6

Considering the enormous interest in ‘memory’ that has pervaded the historical and social sciences since about 1990, early modernists were ‘late adapters’. Yet in recent years there has been a flood of new studies considering different aspects of the theory, practice and impact of memory in early modern societies, focusing for instance on war memories, the politics of oblivion, and issues regarding memory and political and religious identity. In our classes we will first look at some of the basic premises of the memory studies field, before zooming in on the particularities of early modern memory practices, considering for instance the multimedia aspect of memory culture, the question who controlled public memory, and the role of subaltern memory cultures.

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;

  • 2) 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;

  • 3) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 4) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 5) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 6) 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 periodisation and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.

  • 7) (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:

  • 8) Will have a thorough knowledge of two current historiographical debates on cross-cultural interactions in medieval and early modern history: one related to memory; the other to communication, conflict and diplomacy or travel and pilgrimages.

  • 9) Will be able to develop her/his own critical view of a specific aspect of these debates through oral presentations and written papers, based on the reading of several recent monographs and a selection of articles.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

Assessment method

Assessment

  • Essay
    measured learning objectives: 1-6, 8, 9, for Res MA students also 7

  • Assignment 1 (short presentation)
    measured learning objectives: 1-6, 8, 9

  • Assignment 2 (Participation in group discussion)
    measured learning objectives: 2, 4-6, 8, 9 for ResMA students also 5

Weighing

  • Written paper: 70 %

  • Oral presentation: 15 %

  • Participation: 15 %

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

Deadlines

Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.

Resit

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

Exam review

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

*

Reading list

Group 101

  • Debate I: Peter Burke, ‘History as social memory’. In Memory. History, culture and the mind ed. Thomas E. Butler (Oxford 1989), 3-21.
    Geoffrey Cubitt, History and memory (Manchester 2007).
    Judith Pollmann, Memory in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 (Oxford, 2017)

  • Debate II: I. Lazzarini, Communication and Conflict. Italian Diplomacy in the Early Renaissance, 1350-1520 (Oxford 2015) [It is strongly advised to acquire a proper copy of this book.]
    J. Black, A history of diplomacy (London 2010) 7-42
    G. Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (New York 1988)
    D.E. Queller, The office of ambassador in the Middle Ages (Princeton 1955) vii-xi, 60-109.
    J. Watkins, ‘Toward a new diplomatic history of medieval and early modern Europe’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 38: 1 (2008) 1-14. (Digitally available via UB Leiden)
    For detailed reading requirements, including for the first course, please consult the black board site!

Group 102

  • Debate I: F. Thomas Noonan, The Road to Jerusalem: Pilgrimage and Travel in the Age of Discovery (Philadelphia, 2007); further reading assignments to be announced

  • Debate II: Peter Burke, ‘History as social memory’. In Memory. History, culture and the mind ed. Thomas E. Butler (Oxford 1989), 3-21.
    Geoffrey Cubitt, History and memory (Manchester 2007).
    Judith Pollmann, Memory in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 (Oxford, 2017)

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable

Contact

Prof. dr. J.S. Pollmann Prof. dr. L.H.J. Sicking Dr. M.P. Ritsema van Eck

Remarks