HIS 387M • Making the Early Modern World
The years between 1400 and 1750 saw many kinds of broad and wide reaching transformations in Western Europe. Europeans established colonies across the globe. Political systems evolved as highly centralized monarchies emerged. Merchant capitalism became the dominant form of economic organization, manufacturing grew both within the guild system and without in new rural zones of domestic industry, and a consumer revolution began. Elites sought to redefine and re-legitimize their positions as courtiers, judges, and financiers. A vibrant intellectual community challenged long standing epistemological assumptions. Technologies like printing introduced new dynamics. Christianity fragmented into multiple denominations with immense political as well as religious implications for clergy and laity, states and individuals. Gender issues were a central theme in experiences of and articulations of many of these developments. And so on and so on. In this class, we will conduct a semester-long workshop about the making of the early modern world. Combining reading and research, we will look together at the historiography around particular issues (which I will aim to select in line with the individual interests of the participants, and then prepare short conference length papers (12-14 pages). We will conclude the semester with a mini-conference around these papers. Students interested in any aspect of early modern history, whether the Atlantic world or the medieval to early modern transition as well as more purely early modern topics, are welcome. Students may count this class as either research or reading. Obviously, papers for research credit should be based around interpretation of appropriate primary source material.