This seminar is intended as a broadly conceived introduction to the early modern history of the human body. Candidates should not expect a concentration on learned notions of the body. Our focus is wider, as we will be engaging in, and with, socio-cultural historiography. We will be surveying popular beliefs and meanings, everyday practices and social consequences, surrounding human physicality during the early modern period, particularly in terms of their relation to class, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and race. Of equal importance will be the issues of how (and why) historians go about recovering the history of the body. While the early modern Anglophone world is our main point of departure, candidates will be free to focus their attention comparatively on other regions of Western Europe.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Analyze the historical and socio-cultural contingency of
human physicality (rather than assume it is entirely natural or timeless).
- Speak, argue, and write about key themes and concepts in
early modern socio-cultural history.
- Identify and transcribe sources from the period, using
them to reconstruct beliefs, ideas, and attitudes.
- Design and execute a research project in early modern socio-cultural
- Provide and respond to feedback in the process of identifying and formulating solutions to complex historical questions.
Class Participation: (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 5]
Historiographical Review: 1500 words (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2]
Research Proposal: 1500 words (10%) [Learning Outcomes 3, 4]
Research Essay – draft version: 3500 words (20%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]
Research Essay – final version: 5000 words (50%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
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Workload260 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of seminars and 12 hours of workshops; and b) 224 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsAn e-brick consisting of primary material and scholarly essays will be compiled and made available on Wattle.
Preliminary ReadingToulalan, S. and K.Fisher, The Routledge History of Sex and the Body: 1500 to the Present (2013).
Porter, R., Flesh in the Age of Reason (2003).
Bryson, A., From Courtesy to Civility. Changing Codes of Conduct in Early Modern England (1998).
Chaplin, J.E., Subject Matter: Technology, the Body, and Science on the Anglo-American Frontier, 1500–1676 (2001).
Earle, R., The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492-1700 (2012).
Feerick, J., Strangers in Blood. Relocating Race in the Renaissance (2010).
Gowing, L., Common Bodies. Women, Touch and Power in Seventeenth-Century England (2003).
Kuchta, D., The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity. England, 1550-1850 (2002).
Laqueur, T., Making Sex. Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (1990).
Newton, H., The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720 (2012).
Stein, C., Negotiating the French Pox in Early Modern Germany (2008).
Completion of a cognate major
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- 12 units
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