Unit rationale, description and aim
Over the period 1500-1789 Europe's self-understanding shifted dramatically as its international power and consequently its relationship with the rest of the world were transformed. Social and cultural historians study how people in Europe experienced life and understood the local environment and community around them as they struggled with war, famine and pandemics alongside times of great growth and expansion. This unit debates the way early modern Europe should be understood and considers changing beliefs about religion and magic; issues of politics and power; cultural and intellectual life; economics and technological trends and the articulation of European power and identity in the international arena. Students will draw on the fascinating primary sources of the era as well as secondary sources written by historians to develop their understanding of the unit's themes through inquiry-based research activities. The aim of this unit is to develop students' capacity to analyse key developments in early modern European history and the key debates that surround this fascinating era.
On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:
LO1 - Describe a range of factual knowledge and arguments about the social, cultural, and political history of early modern Europe. (GA4, GA5, GA6).
LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form (GA9)
LO3 - Use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary sources relevant to the history of early modern Europe to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA10)
LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the histories of early modern Europe (GA4)
LO5 - Identify and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies relating to early modern European peoples (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6).
GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity
GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society
GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making
GA4 - think critically and reflectively
GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession
GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account
GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media
GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.
Topics will include:
Picturing the Past:
- How historians ‘decode’ maps, images and documents from the early modern era
- Urban and rural societies in early modern Europe
- Social structures of everyday life
Debating the Past:
- History as debate and how to debate historical ideas
- Reformation and Contest: re-forming religion, popular and magical beliefs
- Tolerance and persecution: Christians, Jews and Muslims in early modern Europe
- Order and Power: case studies may include: law and order; race; gender, sex and the body; witch-hunts
- The exploratory impulse: Europe turns outwards
- The consolidation of absolutism
- and the monarchical nation state:
- war and violence within Europe
- Colonial violence in the early modern period: slavery, Indigenous peoples and first nations
Evaluating change over time:
- The Enlightenment (case studies may include: political and/or scientific developments).
- Early industrialisation in Europe
- Prelude to revolution in 18th century Europe
Learning and teaching strategy and rationale
This 10-credit point face-to-face unit provides hands-on learning, including collaborative learning. It takes the form of a face-to-face class incorporating activities through which students will gain a deep understanding of the history of early modern Europe and the skills fundamental to the study of history. Key learning activities will include debating, learning to ‘read’ and interpret early modern images, writing and other primary sources, reading, writing, group discussion, finding scholarly sources, and problem-solving. The lectures provide students with content and analytical frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing the early modern period and assist students to synthesise a broad range of material.
This unit provides hands-on learning, including collaborative learning. It takes the form of a face-to-face class incorporating activities through which students will gain a deep understanding of the history of early modern Europe and the skills fundamental to the study of history. Key learning activities will include debating, learning to ‘read’ and interpret early modern images, writing and other primary sources, reading, writing, group discussion, finding scholarly sources, and problem-solving. The lectures provide students with content and analytical frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing the early modern period and assist students to synthesise a broad range of material.
Assessment strategy and rationale
In this unit students will learn to understand the dynamics of historical debate and how historians debate topics about the past. Students will research, construct and defend an historical argument in the ‘Debating the past’ task. Students then build on the skills developed in the debate to complete an independent research task that incorporates evidence from primary and secondary material into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to historical strategies for understanding how to interpret a broad sweep of history. Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in reading and understanding primary and secondary sources on early modern Europe. They will be asked to apply skills and content learnt through their readings and classes over the semester in the summative task.
Overview of assessments
|Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes||Graduate Attributes|
Debating the past’ task
Students research, construct and defend an historical argument and evaluate competing theories about one of the hotly debated areas of early modern history.
GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9
Written Summative Assessment:
Requires students to demonstrate a mastery of unit materials and content and apply analytical skills to understand how time, place, politics and context have shaped debates about early modern Europe.
The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise.
LO1, LO2, LO3
GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9, GA10
Requires students to demonstrate research skills to locate and use primary and secondary materials appropriate to studies on early modern Europe (political, civil, economic, social, religious or cultural themes) and to communicate clearly in written or digital form to construct a written evidence-based historical narrative or argument with appropriate referencing.
Topics and guidelines will be posted on LEO.
LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, L05
GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6,
Representative texts and references
Cameron, E. The European Reformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012 (2nd edn).
Guasco, Michael. Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
Heal, B. A Magnificent Faith: Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Kaplan, B. Divide By Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.
Kounine, L. Imagining the Witch: Emotions, Gender and Selfhood in Early Modern Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
Levack, B. The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Lightman, Bernard, Gordon McOuat and Larry Stewart. The Circulation of Knowledge Between Britain, India and China the Early-Modern World to the Twentieth Century. Knowledge Infrastructure and Knowledge Economy. Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2013.
Raymond, Joad; Moxham, Noah (eds.). News Networks in Early Modern Europe. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016
Shephard, A. Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status and the Social Order in Early Modern England. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015.
Weisner-Hanks, M. Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (2nd edn).