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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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. This course combines in-depth study of this fascinating text with a broader inquiry into the intellectual culture of the late Renaissance.
Course description 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. 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. 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 all be examined in the context of contemporary preoccupations and debates.

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 Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030).

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 must have 3 History courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses (some reading knowledge of French is desirable, but not required). Enrolments for this course are managed by the CAHSS Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department. All enquiries to enrol must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

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
Set text: Montaigne, The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (London: Penguin, 1991),

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 3783
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