Undergraduate Course: The Invention of Race: Early Modern Intellectual History and the Atlantic World (HIST10441)
|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 aims to explore the intellectual frameworks early modern Europeans used to make sense of their lived experience of human variety, especially the idea of race. In particular, it considers the changing social and cultural implications of travel around the Atlantic world, new practices of ethnography, and their implications for understanding human nature. Students will gain a familiarity with themes in recent historiography on the Atlantic world and the history of race, as a framework for discussing primary sources. In encountering a range of visual, textual, and material sources, students will be encouraged to consider how attitudes towards evidence and early modern science and medicine have been entangled with societal assumptions about human nature.
Over the early modern period, Europeans began to assemble new accounts of race. At the end of the Middle Ages, ideas of human difference were conceived as environmental, social and cultural, and therefore largely malleable. By the end of the Enlightenment, in the context of colonial empires, human difference had become biogeographical: related to one's biological and geographical origins, and to a great degree fixed. How did this happen? This course will address the ways that European intellectual traditions and habits of collecting and narrating contributed to this shift in assumptions about human difference. Weekly seminars take up themes in rough chronological order.
We will begin with analysis of the definitions historians use to consider race, racism, and ethnic chauvinism, by introducing the late medieval experience of Jewish expulsions. Part I will address the new visual culture that attended the European experience of the New World in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The focus will be on how particular sources framed the everyday European experience of new worlds: maps and prints associated with travel literature. Topics will include representations of continents, monstrous peoples, and the consumption of New World plants and peoples. Part II turns to written efforts to classify New World objects, practices, and peoples, beginning in the middle of the seventeenth century. Historians have given special attention to how earlier genres of relaciones and other questionnaires for the New World structured Old World taxonomies. These spurred new efforts in learned societies to give 'scientific' accounts of 'wild' lands even within Europe, such as Robert Boyle's methodological suggestions for studying the Irish, and Carl Linnaeus' excursions among the Lapp. An important theme will be how collected exotica and accounts of the wild man or noble savage fueled learned curiosity. The last part of the course focuses on how leading figures of the Enlightenment created new discourses of race, and the extent to which their lives actually involved New World people. Race in the Enlightenment has been a particularly active field of scholarship in recent years, and this course picks out a couple of major interpretive themes. In particular, we will consider famous efforts by philosophers to ground race in biogeographical accounts, and juxtapose those with some black thinkers in Enlightenment Europe, who found ways to present alternative views of humanity.
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: 503783).
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students must have 3 History courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
1,000 word Source analysis (20%)
2,000 word Historiographical essay (35%)
3,000 word Final paper (45%)
||Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate command of the body of knowledge concerning race and ethnicity in early modern Europe;
- read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
- understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
- 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.
|Robert Bernasconi, ed., The Idea of Race (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000). [selected documents]|
Francisco Bethencourt, Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014).
Alix Cooper, Inventing the Indigenous: Local Knowledge and Natural History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
Surekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Michael Gaudio, Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).
Stephanie Leitch, Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany: New Worlds in Print Culture (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010).
David N. Livingstone, Adam¿s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).
Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
Tom Reiss, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (London: Random House, 2012).
Silvia Sebastiani, The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and the Limits of Progress (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
Justin E. H. Smith, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Richard Oosterhoff
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
|Course secretary||Miss Lorna Berridge