Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe: Microhistorical Approaches

History 280B

Fall 2015
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P

This graduate seminar considers several topics in the study of European popular culture(s) during the long early modern period (14th-19th centuries), relying on the methodologies of microhistory.  In an age that increasingly values “Big History” and “The Long Duration,” this course focuses on a methodological approach widely practiced since the 1970s that seeks to make sense of discrete and unusual moments (often scandals or judicial trials) in the lives and activities of a single person or small group of people who have been marginalized in more traditional accounts of early modern European history.  Focusing on the lives, beliefs, and behaviors of (mostly) marginal people in peripheral places, microhistorians seek to uncover the everyday worlds of ordinary people in a society transformed by religious reformation, the rise of literacy, the growth of state power, and economic transformation.   After some preliminary reflections on microhistory and popular culture, we focus on four themes: gender, sexuality, and identity; religious heterodoxy; politics and rebellion; and translocal microhistory (involving movement across space and cultural boundaries).  Readings include classical works by Carlo Ginzburg, Natalie Zemon Davis, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Michel de Certeau, and others, alongside methodological reflections on the question of scale in historical analysis. 


Course Books

The Question of Hu by Jonathan Spence Vintage. ISBN: 978-0679725800 Required
The Possession at Loudon by Michel de Certeau University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0226100357 Required
Carnival in Romans by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie George Braziller. ISBN: 978-1842126271 Required
Montaillou by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie George Braziller. ISBN: 978-0807615980 Required
The Burgermeister's Daughter by Steven Ozment Harper Perennial. ISBN: 978-0060977214 Required
Immodest Acts by Judith Brown Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0195042252 Required
A Man of Three Worlds by Mercedes Garcia Arenal et al Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN: 978-0801886232 Required
The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN: 978-1421409887 Required
Trickster Travels by Natalie Zemon Davis Hill and Wang. ISBN: 978-0809094356 Required
The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis Harvard University Presss. ISBN: 978-0674766914 Required
The Mammoth and the Mouse by Florike Egmond and Peter Mason The Johns Hopkins University Press . ISBN: 978-0801854781 Required
What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice by Sigurour Magnusson and Istvan Szjirato routledge. ISBN: 978-0415692090 Required
Early Modern Europe by Wiesner-Hanks, Mary Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1107643574 Optional
Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe by Peter Burke Ashgate. ISBN: 978-0754665076 Optional