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

Undergraduate Course: Medicine, Science and Politics at the Courts of Early Modern Europe (HIST10280)

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
SummaryThis course investigates the political uses of 'science' at the courts of early modern Europe. It focuses on the personal and political applications of medical and scientific knowledge at court, looking at the different ways in which scientific knowledge informed, or was informed by, courtly and international politics.
Course description The course will investigate how 'science' was practiced in early modern European courts. It will examine different courts, their specificities, and their similarities, and compare and contrast different types of 'science' and their practical and ideological applications at court. The course as a whole will provide students with a sound understanding of the historical importance of courtly science in the intellectual, social, and economic context of early modern Europe, and provide students with elements for discussion as to its importance for the development of modern science. Topics will include: forms of court patronage; military science and engineering; medicine at court; alchemy; astrology; Galileo; women in Science; science as entertainment; the birth of the natural history museum; science as propaganda. The course covers a broad geographic spectrum and is highly interdisciplinary, drawing from anthropology, the history of science, the history of ideas and cultural history.
The aims of the course are to:
- demonstrate an informed understanding of the theoretical debates investing the fields of history of medicine, science and politics in the early modern period;
- demonstrate some historical perspective in relation to the categories of 'court', 'science', 'medicine', 'belief' and 'superstition';
- further develop their ability to investigate historical subjects;
- reflect on past and present cultural, political and social norms;
- demonstrate an appreciation of the complexities of doing research in early modern history (the nature of the documents, the function they fulfilled originally, their interpretation, etc.).
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).
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 **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Ronald Asch and Adolf M. Birke, Princes, Patronage, and the Nobility: the Court at the Beginning of the Modern Age c. 1450-1650 (Oxford, 1991)
Mario Biagioli, ''The Social Status of Mathematicians, 1450-1600,'' History of Science, 27 (1989), pp. 41-94
Marc Bloch, The Royal Touch: Sacred Monarchy and Scrofula in England and France (London, 1973)
R.J.W. Evans, Rudolf II and his World (Oxford, 1984)
Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (Berkeley, 1994)
Eugenio Garin, Science and Civic Life in the Italian Renaissance (New York, 1969)
H.C. Erik Midelford, Mad Princes of Renaissance Germany (Charlottesville and London, 1994)
T. Bruce Moran, Patronage and Institutions: Science, Technology, and Medicine at the European Court 1500-1750 (Woodbridge, 1991)
Vivian Nutton (ed.), Medicine at the courts of Europe, 1500-1837 (Routledge, 1990)
F.W. Kent, Patricia Simons, and J.C. Eade (eds.), Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy (Oxford, 1987)
Sharon Ketting, Patrons, Brokers, and Clients in Seventeenth-Century France (Oxford, 1986)
Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston, The Cambridge History of Science vol. 3 (Cambridge, 2006)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information The course will be taught in a seminar format of an hour and fifty minutes per week.
KeywordsMedicine Science
Course organiserDr Monica Azzolini
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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