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

Undergraduate Course: The Archival Turn and the Fashioning of Enlightenment, c.1690-1800 (HIST10473)

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
SummaryArchives provide the basis for historical scholarship and the sandbox for historical training. But until recently, most historians did not question why repositories were created, how they were organised, which documents were collected, who could access them - and who could not. By reflecting on the emergence of colonial, scientific, literary, and political archives and libraries during the eighteenth century, this course will consider how collections have fashioned the Enlightenment - as a set of values and as a historical event - among historians and their readers in Britain, the Caribbean, France, and Spain.

In collaboration with archivists in the university's Centre for Research Collections, students will gain first-hand experience with practical skills, including archival appraisal, cataloguing and metadata, handling and rehousing. They will have the opportunity to work with primary collections to better understand how and why the archival turn has shaped historical and archival practice.
Course description Over the past two decades the "archival turn" has led historians to recover the principles that have shaped collections of documentary sources, and to reflect on their social meaning over time. In Britain, the creation of national collections of archival records, manuscripts, and printed books coincided with efforts to create accessible repositories of scientific and historical knowledge - in exhibitions (such as the Repository of the Royal Society, 1661) and in print (such as Thomas Rymer's Foedora, 1704-32). To what extent did these documentary projects shape perceptions of the national and imperial past? By focussing on the social meanings of eighteenth-century archives and libraries, within and beyond Europe, can we discern the values historians associate with Enlightenment?

Students on this course will consider the history of archival, material, and print repositories during the "long eighteenth century" and the design of electronic databases that cover this period (including ESTC and ECCO). Next, we will examine the ways in which these and other repositories have fashioned the production and dissemination of values and ideas associated with Enlightenment and the history of the eighteenth century. By comparing case studies from across geographical regions, including the Middle Passage and the Caribbean, we will think about the links historians have made between information and knowledge, and between evidence and history.

Through a series of practical training sessions with archivists, students will develop specialist technical skills that will enhance their ability to identify, trace, and to think historically about the archival basis of historical narratives - doing so in the Centre for Research Collections or online. With so many of us depending on virtual stores of information, this a timely course that will help students see the intellectual origins of databases in the archives, and to consider the social meaning of documentary collections.
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 Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030)
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the principles and practices that created national archives and libraries, in the West, during the early-modern period;
  2. demonstrate, through participation in archival-training workshops, a critical understanding of the fundamental elements of archival skills, curatorship, and presentation;
  3. demonstrate an ability to locate, examine, analyse, and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship as well as a familiarity with a range of electronic and/or printed sources and associated research skills, to enable effective secondary research;
  4. demonstate the ability to contribute to the further development of presentation and verbal skills among fellow students;
  5. demonstrate a critical understanding of comparative methods of historical study, and the ability to employ this understanding to formulate and develop an effective scholarly argument relating to the sources covered in this course.
Reading List
Bleichmar, D. Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012);

Burke, P. A Social History of Knowledge: from Gutenberg to Diderot, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000);

CaƱizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World, (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002);

Eve, M. P. Open Access and the Humanities, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014);

Gregg, S. Old Books and Digital Publishing: Eighteenth Century Collections Online, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2020);

Harris, P. R., A History of the British Museum, 1753-1973, (London: British Library, 1998);

Head, R. S. Making Archives in Early Modern Europe, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019);

Hunter, M. Establishing the New Science: The Experience of the Early Royal Society, (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1989);

McKetterick, D. Old Books, New Technologies: The Representation, Conservation and Transformation of Books since 1700, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013);

Marcus, F. The Birth of the Archive: A History of Knowledge, trans. J. Dillon, (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2018).

Trouillot, M.-R. Silencing the Past: Power and Production of History, (Boston: Beacon P, 1995);

Walker, A. et al, eds. From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his Collections, (London: British Library, 2012).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - The ability to think critically and reflectively about the primary and secondary sources we have studied, and the questions we have considered in relation to those sources;
- The ability to participate in debates about the creation, construction, circulation, and fashioning of knowledge, both in the past and present, offering clear, cogent and well-supported arguments;
- The ability to devise focused research questions on the history of archives and eighteenth-century historiography, within and beyond Britain, and to deliver answers through engagement with a varied body of source materials.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Adam Budd
Tel: (0131 6)50 3834
Course secretaryMiss Katherine Shaw
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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