Undergraduate Course: Discovering the individual: Medieval auto/biography, c.1050-1200 (HIST10347)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course examines the proposal that the period c.1050-1200 witnessed a growing awareness of the place of the individual in medieval society. Drawing on autobiographical texts surviving from Northern Europe in the period and on examples of biographical and hagiographical works, the course allows students to examine and evaluate these life-writing genres as sources for the study of medieval society.
This course examines the proposal that the period c.1050-1200 witnessed a growing awareness of the place of the individual in medieval society. Drawing on autobiographical texts surviving from Northern Europe in the period and on examples of biographical and hagiographical works, the course allows students to examine and evaluate these life-writing genres as sources for the study of medieval society. These texts also provide the basis for an examination of the relationship between the individual and the social identities provided by the groups and communities characteristic of medieval society. How far was individuality expressed through models provided by these groups? How did medieval people articulate concepts of the 'self'? The course begins with a study of Augustine of Hippo's 'Confessions', a text which served as a model for the autobiographies of later writers such as Abbot Guibert of Nogent (d.1124). Examples of hagiography (saints' lives) are provided by the Life of Christina of Markyate and Eadmer's dual-biography of St Anselm of Canterbury. Peter Abelard's 'History of My Calamities' offers an insight into the career of one of medieval Europe's most charismatic figures, as well as introducing letter collections as sources for explorations of the past. Throughout the course, the content draws on materials that illustrate the nature of medieval life-writing, in order that the students may critically evaluate auto/biography as historical sources.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||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: 503767)
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting Students should usually have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
- demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
- demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
- 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;
- demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
1. Saint Augustine, Confessions, Penguin Classics, 1961
2. J.F. Benton, trans., Self and Society in Medieval France [Guibert of Nogent], 1970
3. C.H. Talbot, trans., The Life of Christina of Markyate, 1959
4. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Penguin Classics, 1974
5. R.W. Southern, trans., The Life of Saint Anselm by Eadmer, 1962
6. R.H.C. Davis, and Marjorie Chibnall, trans., The Gesta Guillelmi of William of Poitiers, 1998
7. C. Holdsworth et al., The Letters of St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1998
8. F.M. Powicke, trans., Water Daniel's Life of Aelred of Rievaulx, 1950
Indicative list of secondary texts:
9. Colin Morris, The Discovery of the Individual, 1050-1200 (1972)
10. Aaron Gurevich, The Origins of European Individualism (1995)
11. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography, 2nd edition, 2010
12. Mark Freeman, Rewriting the Self: History, Memory, Narrative, 1993
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||- enhanced abilities in research, critical thinking, weighing up of arguments and evidence
- production of innovative research pieces that adhere to bibliographical convention
- skills in presenting information and arguments to fellow students / lecturer in class
|Course organiser||Dr William Aird
Tel: (0131 6)50 9968