This module focuses on what is often called 'the early modern period', a span of around 250 years sometimes depicted as the watershed between the 'medieval' and 'the modern'. You will find some elements of this period which has shaped our society strikingly different, while in other aspects, you will find it surprisingly familiar. The overarching questions that we will seek to answer are:
* What exactly was changing in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe – political systems, social structures, cultural horizons? – and why?
* Which individuals, social groups, or particular regions benefited most from such changes, and which were more adversely affected by them?
* To what degree did continuity as opposed to change play an important role in shaping early modern belief systems and social and political structures?
In order to answer these questions we will focus on selected early modern themes: European expansion and conquest in the Americas; religious and cultural change, including the Reformation; the issue of state-building across Europe (including the British Isles) as well as the Ottoman Empire; social order and social change, including gender and the issue of poverty; and challenges to order, including rebellion, warfare and witchcraft.
The purpose of this module is to familiarise students with this important period of history and to give them a foundation for the study of modern history modules and other, more specialised early modern history modules that they might take in subsequent years of study. The module is also designed to train students in the key skills necessary for university study, with specific emphasis on those skills specific to the discipline of history. By taking the module you will be given the opportunity to develop the following skills:
* research and information-gathering skills
* the critical analysis of primary and secondary sources
* the construction and communication of a sequence of ideas both verbally (through seminar participation) and in writing (through writing essays)
* the ability to work in small groups
* the development of a self-reflexive approach to your learning
All these skills will help you not just as historians but also in the world of work. They are valued by employers and will be of benefit to you when applying for either temporary or permanent jobs in future.
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