HIS 389 • Nature, Labor, & The Craftsman
9:30 AM-12:30 PM
The status of skilled artisans in the early modern period was profoundly influenced by the craftsman's unique ability to posit him or herself as emulator of God's labor in an animate, fecund, and highly spiritualized natural world. This claim to special status was underscored by the artisans' assertion of a god-given place in privileged territory in the intersticies of venerable natural, oral, written, and material traditions, including special knowledge of the materials both in and on the earth itself, which facilitated the interdependence of natural and artisanal labor in the production of useful, innovative, and commercial things. This research course will explore these issues from multidisciplinary and transatlantic perspectives, including (but not restricted) to problems in natural philosophy, the history of religion, the history of technology, art history, the history of sexuality and the body, agriculture, human geography, textual criticism, the culture of the book, ecology, colonization and the "hybrid." The first six weeks will be devoted to reading and discussion; the rest of the semester to individual research projects.