Undergraduate Course: No such thing as a free gift: a long history of donation (HIST10436)
|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||In most societies, gift-giving acts as a critical form of social currency. Gifts mark special occasions such as birthdays; they cement diplomatic relationships; they act as bribes and charitable offerings. Gifts and gift-exchange can therefore tell historians much about the social, political, and moral norms of past societies. This course examines the fascinating histories of gift-giving in a cross-period and trans-regional context.
The basic principle that a gift is never given without the expectation of something in return was first determined by the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss in 1925. Since the publication of his Essai sur le don - 'Essay on the Gift' - historians have used this basic principle to understand gift-giving in a wide range of contexts and past societies. After becoming familiar with the principle of reciprocity and the history of its development, we then move on to examine the varied phenomena that historians have used this principle to explore (including: charity and philanthropy; gender; colonialism; diplomacy; bribery; corruption). A visit to the National Museum of Scotland at the end of the course will help us to think about why people donate to museums and how the display of gifts shapes our experience as consumers of history.
Students are by no means expected to have prior knowledge of all of the periods we study, and an annotated bibliography and independent essay will allow students to focus on a particular gift or instance of exchange in a context that they find most interesting.
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, PTs are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503780).
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
|Academic year 2022/23, 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)
1000 word Annotated Bibliography (20%)
4000 word Essay (80%)
||Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during her published office hours.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate, by way of coursework, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course
- demonstrate, by way of coursework, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship
- demonstrate by way of coursework, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material
- demonstrate, by way of coursework, 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
|Gadi Algazi, Valentin Groebner, and Bernhard Jussen (eds), Negotiating the Gift: Pre-modern figurations of exchange (Göttingen, 2003)|
Felicity Bodenstein, 'A Show of Generosity: Donations and the intimacy of display in the 'Cabinet des médailles et antiques' in Paris from 1830-1930, in Kate Hill (ed.), Museums and Biographies: Stories, Objects, Identities (Woodbridge, 2013), pp. 13-27
Natalie Zemon Davis, 'Beyond the Market: Books as Gifts in Sixteenth-Century France: The Prothero Lecture', in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 33 (1983), 69-88
C.A. Gregory, Gifts and Commodities (Chicago, 2015)
Maria Heim, Theories of the Gift in South Asia: Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain reflections on dana (London, 2004)
James Heinzen, The Art of the Bribe: Corruption under Stalin, 1943-1953 (New Haven, 2016)
Cynthia Klekar and Linda Zionkowski (eds), The Culture of the Gift in Eighteenth-Century England (New York, 2009)
Mark Knights, 'Samuel Pepys and Corruption' Parliamentary History, 33 (2014), pp. 19-35
Steven Pierce, Moral Economies of Corruption: state formation and political culture in Nigeria (Durham NC, 2016)
Charles Piot, 'Of Slaves and the Gift: Kabre Sale of Kin during the Era of the Slave Trade', The Journal of African History, 37 (1996), 31-49
Jill Rappoport, Giving Women: Alliance and Exchange in Victorian Culture (Oxford, 2012)
Britta Schilling, Postcolonial Germany: Memories of Empire in a Decolonized Nation (Oxford, 2014), pp. 90-132 (chapter 4: 'The State Gift')
|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.
|Keywords||Gifts; gift-giving; gift-exchange; Mauss; gender; postcolonial; bribery; corruption; diplomacy
|Course organiser||Dr Kirsty Day
|Course secretary||Miss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783