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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Montaigne and the Late Renaissance (HIST10370)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe French thinker Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of the most celebrated of all early modern philosophers and certainly one of the most enjoyable to read. His only published work, the Essays (meaning 'attempts', 'trials' or 'soundings'), documents his thoughts on a vast array of subjects, from sadness to conversation, cannibals, prayers, books, and thumbs. Drawing on his reading of the classics and on his experience of contemporary political and religious upheavals, Montaigne crafted a philosophy that was at once deeply personal and indelibly shaped by the cultural habits and preoccupations of his age. This course combines in-depth study of this fascinating text with a broader inquiry into the intellectual culture of the late Renaissance. Montaigne's reflections on topics including the recently discovered New World, reason and human knowledge, melancholy, witchcraft, political necessity (reason of state), sexuality and the self will be examined in the context of contemporary preoccupations and debates. The course is informed by the organiser's own research on Montaigne and in early modern intellectual history.
Course description 1. Introduction
2. Humanism, reading and education
3. Neo-Stoicism and reason of state
4. Custom and the New World
5. Scepticism, knowledge and belief
6. Self-study
7. Friendship, sexuality and society
8. Religion and toleration
9. Witches, monsters and marvels
10. Medicine, melancholy and the body
11. Montaigne's legacy
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503783).
Non-Visiting Students should normally have taken and passed European History 1a (c. 1500-1789). Some reading knowledge of French is desirable, but not required
Additional Costs Students encouraged to purchase a paperback edition of Montaigne's Essays, the main primary source studied in this course, 20 new or 2nd hand copy,
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **

Some reading knowledge of French is desirable, but not required.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  26
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 35 %, Practical Exam 15 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The proposed course will use the following assessments:
- two-hour Degree Examination, comprising gobbets and an essay (50%)
- 2,500-3,000 word essay, including footnotes but excluding bibliography (35%)
- oral presentation (10%)
- class participation (5%)
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. On successful completion of this course, students should be able to demonstrate by way of examination, essay, oral presentation and class participation:
    - a thorough, nuanced and critical understanding of Montaigne's thought, including the ability to comment incisively on the context and significance (both historical and philosophical) of excerpted passages;
    - an understanding of key themes in late Renaissance intellectual culture, and of Montaigne's relationship to these larger intellectual traditions and trends;
    - the ability to present an argument in a clear, logical and persuasive manner, in both written and oral form, using appropriate evidence and referencing;
    - a degree of research initiative commensurate with this level of study, including the ability to identify research questions and select relevant primary and secondary material (using the course bibliography as a starting point).
  2. In their preparation and contributions to weekly seminars, students will in addition be expected to show:
    - the ability to formulate appropriate questions and to provide answers to them using valid and relevant evidence and argument;
    - the ability to engage in reasoned, respectful debate with others and amend views as necessary in the light of evidence and argument.
Reading List
The best way to prepare for this course is by reading Montaigne's Essays. Various English translations are available, e.g. The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (London: Penguin, 1991), The Complete Works: essays, travel, journal, letters, trans. D. Frame (London: Everyman, 2003), The Essayes, trans. J. Florio (London: by Valentin Sims for Edward Blount, 1603; available on Early English Books Online).
In addition, you may find it helpful to read one or more of the following: Bakewell, Sarah, How to Live, or, A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer (London: Chatto & Windus, 2010).
Burke, Peter, Montaigne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981); reprinted as Renaissance Thinkers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).
Cave, Terence, How to Read Montaigne (London: Granta, 2007).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will help students develop a range of transferable skills, including:
- the ability to manage one's time effectively, work to deadlines, and perform effectively under pressure;
- the ability to gather, sift, organise and evaluate large quantities of textual evidence;
- the ability to marshal argument in both written and oral form;
- the ability to work independently and as part of a pair or larger group.
Course organiserDr Felicity Green
Tel: (0131 6)51 3856
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50
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