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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Myth and the History of Scholarship in Early Modern Europe (PGHC11398)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to the history of scholarship from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment (c. 1550-1750), a period which arguably gave birth to the modern human sciences. It does so by examining one particular theme: the study of pagan myth (including the myths of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the myths of contemporary 'savages' and 'primitives', and the myths of the ancient pagan peoples mentioned in the Bible).
Course description How did early modern thinkers and scholars interpret the myths of non-Christian peoples? How did they reconcile evidence of widely varying forms of religious belief and worship with the privileged status of Christianity as the one true religion? To what extent did increased knowledge of antiquity and of the world outside Europe lead to a transformed understanding of myth and of religion itself? This course will explore all these questions through a discussion of key primary texts (including works by Bacon, Vico and Hume) and supporting secondary literature. It will help you develop your skills and confidence in reading and interpreting early modern intellectual sources, while also giving you a fuller understanding of the broader intellectual history of the period. The topic of pagan myth stands at the intersection of several areas of early modern intellectual inquiry, including classical philology, cosmography, sacred history, antiquarianism and biblical scholarship. You will be encouraged to reflect on the relationship between these disciplines and on the larger confessional and political contexts shaping early modern scholarship. You will also be asked to think about the direction, and causes, of long-term intellectual change in this period. Can we speak of a naturalisation and secularisation of myth and, if so, what were its sources? Did this period witness the beginnings of the historical and comparative study of religion?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Myth and the History of Scholarship in Early Modern Europe (online) (PGHC11422)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
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 a detailed and critical command of the key factors, texts and arguments shaping the study of myth from c. 1550 to 1750
  2. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning the history of the human sciences in the early modern period, primary source materials concerning pagan myth and religion, and conceptual discussions about secularisation and intellectual change
  3. Understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course, including working with early printed editions of early modern texts
  4. Develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  5. Demonstrate originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Allen, Don Cameron, Mysteriously meant: the rediscovery of pagan symbolism and allegorical interpretation in the Renaissance (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970)

Harrison, Peter, 'Religion' and the Religions in the English Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Manuel, Frank E., The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959)

Stroumsa, Guy S., A New Science: the discovery of religion in the age of reason (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will help students develop a range of transferable skills, including:
- the ability to manage one's time effectively and work to deadlines;
- 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.
KeywordsMyth Scholarship Early Modern Europe
Course organiserDr Felicity Green
Tel: (0131 6)51 3856
Course secretaryMs Cristina Roman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4777
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