Misfits, Outsiders, and the Strange and Unusual: Some Early Modern European Biographies

History 103B(R.003

Spring 2006
Instructor (text): 
104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 4-6
New Room!

In the last thirty years, many historians have grown increasingly interested in the history of individuals whose lives were once forgotten or considered marginal or even aberrant to the course of ";mainstream"; history. In the process, we have discovered that researching and studying these ";strange and unusual"; people?s lives reveal new aspects and new understandings of the past that are not possible through classical historical study.

This seminar explores the biographies of a set of Early Modern European ";misfits and outsiders"; and their influences on and interactions with the course of European history and, by extension, what we regard as Western Civilization. People we will study include: quarrelling lovers, peasants and artisans, heretics and witches, a prophetess, a lesbian nun, a dissenter, Grub Street hacks, a freemason charlatan, a murder victim and her murderer, and a runaway king soon to be executed. Historical fields such as social history, religious history, cultural history, and intellectual history will be prominent in our studies. Some particular themes featured will be marginalization, nonconformity, rebellion, resistance, assimilation, subversion, and violence. In addition to these histories and themes, we will also explore the historiographies and methodologies of these types of historical studies, including the use of different disciplines in history and the controversies surrounding the studies of ";popular history,"; ";microhistory,"; ";history from below,"; and ";popular culture."; We will examine both the potential of and the problems with these histories and attempt to construct a usable history of Early Modern European ";underworlds.";

Students will be required to attend and actively participate in seminar and to choose from several writing options that will total no more than 25 pages and no less than 20 pages. Readings will average about 150 pages a week and consist of short books supplemented by relevant articles. A background in European history is helpful but not required. Everything else will be negotiated as the seminar progresses.

Feel free to direct questions/concerns/comments to: blakej@berkeley.edu.