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

Undergraduate Course: Early Medieval Sexualities, c.500-1000 (HIST10420)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course examines the history of sexuality in early medieval societies between c.500 and c.1000. Students will be introduced to key concepts and debates in the history of sexuality, and will use important themes in early medieval history to probe these concepts and debates. The course also uses sexuality and gender to re-evaluate political, religious and social dynamics across multiple post-Roman societies in the early medieval west before c.1000, and to make comparisons with other societies including Byzantium and Islamic caliphates.
Course description The centuries between c.500 and c.1000 remain the 'dark ages' in broader histories of sexuality. While many histories of sexuality quickly jump across from the ancient world to the millennium, this course provides an extended opportunity to explore what sexuality meant in early medieval societies.

Early Medieval Sexualities introduces students to key concepts and debates in the history of sexuality, and uses important themes in the history of gender and sexuality to re-evaluate political, social and religious dynamics in early medieval societies. Key themes include gender and the body; renunciation of sexuality; sexual politics in courts and harems; the relevance of sexuality to ethnic, religious and social identities; homosexualities and heteronormativity; the relevance (or not) of the premodern past to modern questions.

The course begins in the later Roman world before turning to a range of post-Roman societies in western Europe and comparative material on distinctive configurations of sexuality, gender, power and religion in other societies, including Islamic caliphates and Byzantium.

Students should note that more than one seminar will address rape, sexual abuse and violence
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third 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: 504030).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
2 x 2,000 word Primary Source Analysis (15% each)
2 x 4,000 word Essay (35% each)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on all coursework and presentations, and will be offered the opportunity to discuss each piece of feedback in person with the course organiser during office hours or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. identify and explain key political, religious, social and cultural dynamics in Christian and Islamic societies between c.500 and c.1000.
  2. recognise and appraise key conceptual questions in the history of gender and sexuality.
  3. interpret a range of written and non-written primary sources from multiple societies, and generate insights about the societies from which they come.
  4. critically evaluate existing scholarship and position their independent questions and answers in relation to this scholarship.
  5. articulate and debate the relevance of the past to contemporary debates about gender, sexuality, ethnicity and identity.
Reading List
Judith M. Bennett and Ruth M. Karras (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Women & Gender in Medieval Europe (Oxford, 2013)

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian era to the fourteenth century (Chicago, 1980)

Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988)

Leslie Brubaker and Julia M.H. Smith (eds), Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900 (Cambridge, 2004)

Stephen Garton, Histories of Sexuality: Antiquity to Sexual Revolution (London, 2004)

David Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And other essays on Greek love (New York, 1990)

Kyle Harper, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2013)

Karl Heidecker, The Divorce of Lothar II: Christian Marriage and Political Power in the Carolingian World (Ithaca, 2010)

Mark Jordan, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (Chicago, 1997)

Ruth M. Karras, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others (London, 2005)

Mathew Kuefler (ed.), The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago, 2006)

Rachel Stone, Morality and Masculinity in the Carolingian Empire (Cambridge, 2012)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - ability to draw valid conclusions about the past
- ability to identify, define and analyse historical problems
- ability to select and apply a variety of critical approaches to problems informed by uneven evidence
- ability to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding
- ability to extract key elements from complex information
- readiness and capacity to ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry
- ability critically to assess existing understanding and the limitations of knowledge and recognition of the need regularly to challenge/test knowledge
- ability to search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding
- possession of an informed respect for the principles, methods, standards, values and boundaries of the discipline(s), as well as the capacity to question these
- recognition of the importance of reflecting on one's learning experiences and being aware of one's own particular learning style
- openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
- ability to identify processes and strategies for learning
- independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one's own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
- ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought
- ability to test, modify and strengthen one's own views through collaboration and debate
- intellectual curiosity
- ability to sustain intellectual interest
- ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of historical issues and one's interpretation of them
- ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
- ability to collaborate and to relate to others
- readiness to seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
- ability to articulate one's skills as identified through self-reflection
- ability to approach historical problems with academic rigour
- ability to manage and meet firm deadlines
- flexible, adaptable and proactive responsiveness to changing surroundings
- possession of the confidence to make decisions based on one's understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy
- ability to transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another
- ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills
- working with, managing, and leading others in ways that value their diversity and equality and that encourage their contribution
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Zubin Mistry
Course secretaryMiss Claire Brown
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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