Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Invention of Race: Early Modern Intellectual History and the Atlantic World (HIST10441)

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
SummaryThis 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.
Course description 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.
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.
Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
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. 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 command of the body of knowledge concerning race and ethnicity in early modern Europe;
  2. read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. 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
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).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Richard Oosterhoff
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretaryMiss Lorna Berridge
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information