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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: History

HIST45430: Reading the medieval and early modern past

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • • HIST45430 Writing the medieval and early modern past

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • To introduce students to different disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the medieval and early modern periods.
  • To enable students to develop advanced skills and methods in analysing and using textual, material and visual evidence.
  • To enable students to develop the essential research skills for the successful completion of an MA programme in medieval and early modern studies including writing a dissertation, and for potential future research at doctoral and postdoctoral level.
  • To develop students’ critical abilities to evaluate advanced specialist literature in at least two disciplines.
  • To study the emergence, development and consolidation of textual, material and visual cultures in the medieval and early modern periods through focused study of a specific texts, objects and their contexts, including their prehistory and influences, their contemporary setting, and their afterlife.

Content

  • This module focuses on one key sources (textual, material, visual) as a lens through which to explore different disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the medieval and early modern periods. The first seminar will consist of an in-depth discussion of the sources to develop a good working knowledge of the relevant issues connected to study of the material. Subsequent seminars will explore the influences on, contemporary setting of, or afterlives of the sources, and will employ a range of disciplinary approaches to studying the sources and the issues raised. In this way, students will be introduced both to different ways of understanding the sources, and to different ways in which the sources might be situated in time (drawing on past influences, responding to contemporary context, or being reused or recast by later generations). All sources used in the course (textual, material, visual) will be connected in some way to the Durham UNESCO World Heritage site, and may include manuscripts, published texts, legal or financial records, material culture, archaeology, architecture.
  • There will be eight fortnightly two-hour seminars, each taught by two specialists. The module co-ordinator will attend regularly to ensure coherence and continuity. The final two-hour seminar will be reflective, allowing us to bring together the key ideas of the module and to think about the ways in which sources studied have opened up multi- and interdisciplinary study of the medieval and early modern past. We will also reconsider the nature of interdisciplinary study, and the problems and potential that it offers.
  • In addition to the seminars there will be three two-hour skills workshops which may include archives session in Palace Green Library; a library session on early printed works at Ushaw College; a material cultural session and a visual culture session.
  • Students will be required to read specified items in advance of each seminar, and encouraged to engage in further reading afterwards. For each seminar one or two students may be asked to prepare a presentation as a way of opening up discussion and offering an in-depth examination of some of the issues to be discussed.
  • The sources chosen for study will depend on staff availability in any given year.
  • The assessment for the module will be one essay of up to 5000 words, on a topic connected with the themes of the module. Students should devise their own questions in consultation with the module co-ordinator and/or one of the tutors teaching on the module.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge and understanding of the key sources explored in the module, and of the interpretations made by scholars from different disciplinary traditions.
  • Detailed knowledge and understanding of the key themes explored in the module, based upon a variety of sources and methodologies from different disciplines.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to use and interrogate a range of source materials relevant to the medieval and early modern period.
  • An ability to understand social, political, religious and cultural changes and trajectories by means of textual, material and visual evidence.
Key Skills:
  • A high level of ability in writing cogently and persuasively on a specialised topic within the subject area of the module, drawing on the work of previous scholars as necessary.
  • A high level of ability in leading and presenting discussion and debate across a variety of media (written work, oral presentations, seminar discussions etc.).

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is delivered through seminars and workshops; participation in these and the independent reading required for these will enable students to achieve the module’s specified learning outcomes.
  • Students will be allocated an advisor for the essay who will offer individual tutorials; the advisor will help students to explore their specialised topic within the subject area of the module and advise on relevant previous scholarship.
  • Formative assessment will involve at least one presentation within seminars, and an annotated bibliography in preparation for the summative essay. • The summative assessment for the module is an essay of up to 5000 words, on a question/topic to be devised by the student in consultation with the module co-ordinator and/or the student’s advisor.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Introductory Meeting 1 Once 2 hours 2
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 2 hours 16
Workshops 3 Occasional, as availability allows 2 hours 6
Tutorials 4 Fortnightly in Term 2 0.5 hours 2
Preparation & Reading 274
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assessed essay on a topic connected with the themes of the module 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

At least one seminar presentation; an annotated bibliography on the chosen essay topic.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University