Postgraduate Course: Myth and the History of Scholarship in Early Modern Europe (online) (PGHC11422)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
|Course type||Online Distance Learning
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course provides an introduction to the history of scholarship from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment (c. 1550-1750), a period which arguably gave birth to the modern human sciences. It does so by examining one particular theme: the study of pagan myth (including the myths of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the myths of contemporary 'savages' and 'primitives', and the myths of the ancient pagan peoples mentioned in the Bible).
How did early modern thinkers and scholars interpret the myths of non-Christian peoples? How did they reconcile evidence of widely varying forms of religious belief and worship with the privileged status of Christianity as the one true religion? To what extent did increased knowledge of antiquity and of the world outside Europe lead to a transformed understanding of myth and of religion itself? This course will explore all these questions through a discussion of key primary texts (including works by Bacon, Vico and Hume) and supporting secondary literature. It will help you develop your skills and confidence in reading and interpreting early modern intellectual sources, while also giving you a fuller understanding of the broader intellectual history of the period. The topic of pagan myth stands at the intersection of several areas of early modern intellectual
inquiry, including classical philology, cosmography, sacred history, antiquarianism and biblical scholarship. You will be encouraged to reflect on the relationship between these disciplines and on the larger confessional and political contexts shaping early modern scholarship. You will also be asked to think about the direction, and causes, of long-term intellectual change in this period. Can we speak of a naturalisation and secularisation of myth and, if so, what were its sources? Did this period witness the beginnings of the historical and comparative study of religion?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate in online forum posts and the essay, a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the key factors, textx and arguments shaping the study of myth from c. 1550 to 1750
- Demonstrate in online forum posts and the essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning the history of the human sciences in the early modern period, primary source materials concerning pagan myth and religion, and conceptual discussions about secularisation and intellectual change
- Demonstrate in online forum posts and the essay an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course including working with digital facsimilies of early printed books;
- Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, online forum posts, and the essay by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course;
- Demonstrate in seminar discussions, online forum posts, and the essay originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy.
|The following articles (both available online) provide a good introduction to many of the key themes of the course:|
Dmitri Levitin, 'From sacred history to the history of religion: paganism, Judaism, and Christianity in European historiography from Reformation to 'Enlightenment', Historical Journal, 55 (2012), 1117-1160.
Francis Schmidt, 'Polytheism: degeneration or progress?', History and Anthropology, 3 (1987), 9-60.
In addition, Robert Segal, Myth: a very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) provides a succinct, accessible introduction to modern theories of myth (since the 19th century), helpful as a counterpoint to early modern myth scholarship and for beginning to think about different ways of studying and interpreting myth.
For students with little or no background in early modern European history, a useful textbook is Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Early Modern Europe 1450-1789, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013), esp. the chapters on cultural and intellectual life.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||Myth. History,Scholarship,Early Modern,Europe,ODL
|Course organiser||Dr Felicity Green
Tel: (0131 6)51 3856
|Course secretary||Mrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948