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

Undergraduate Course: Revelry and Riot: Popular Culture in Britain, c.1400-1800 (HIST10504)

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 courses explores the beliefs, festivities, pastimes, and political cultures of everyday men, women and children in late medieval and early modern Britain. It investigates the impact of watershed movements like reformations, revolutions and industrialisation upon popular culture, and interrogates popular culture's influence upon the same.
Course description What were the attitudes, values and customs of ordinary people in Britain during the late medieval and early modern periods? How can we glimpse these 'popular cultures' of the past, and how did they relate to the broader political, economic and social structures and issues of the time? This course grapples with these questions, making a serious study of those people below the level of the wealthy and elite in pre-modern society: the alewives and artisans, husbandmen and servants, labourers and paupers who formed the vast majority of the population.

The course focuses upon the cultural lives of everyday individuals and groups, exploring their belief systems and mental outlooks towards issues like religion, sex, leisure, and politics, as manifested through objects, utterances, rituals and customs. Multiple popular cultures will be considered, touching upon gender, age, and locality, and subjects will include festivities; sports, theatre, and other pastimes; belief and the supernatural; popular protest and riot. The course examines both the influence of popular culture and the changes it underwent in relation to significant movements of reformation, revolution and industrialisation over the course of four centuries. More broadly, it contends with historiographical debates over the legitimacy and value of 'popular culture' as a field of study: can we truly speak of one 'plebeian' culture separate from the elite during this period; and is it necessary or even possible to uncover the 'voices of the people'?

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: domestic abuse, sexual violence, misogyny, racism and xenophobia violence and cruelty towards marginalized groups and animals. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
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 should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
3000 word essay (40%)

Non-Written Skills:
Class participation (20%)

2 hour paper (40%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Define and discuss continuities and changes in the mentalities, values and customs of ordinary people during the late medieval and early modern periods.
  2. Critically appraise scholarship and historiographical debates relating to popular culture in medieval and early modern societies.
  3. Recognise, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source materials concerning and reflecting late medieval and early modern popular culture.
  4. Formulate and sustain logical and evidence-based arguments via oral and written means.
  5. Communicate through participation and discussion an independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Burke, P., Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (3rd edn. 2009)

Duffy, E. , The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (1992)

Griffin, E., England's Revelry: A History of Popular Sports and Pastimes, 1660-1830 (2005)

Hadfield, A., M. Dimmock, and A. Shinn (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Culture in Early Modern England (2014)

Harris, T. (ed.), Popular Culture in England, c1500-1850 (1995)

Hutton, R., The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year in England 1400-1700 (1994).

Reay, B., Popular Cultures in England, 1550-1750 (1998).

Sharpe, J. A, Early Modern England: A Social History, 1550-1760 (2nd edn. 1997)

Todd, M., The Culture of Protestantism in Early Modern Scotland (2002)

Underdown, D., Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (1985).

Whyte, I. D., Scotland Before the Industrial Revolution (1995)

Wrightson, K., English Society, 1580-1680 (1982)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Acquiring knowledge and understanding by grasping historiographical debates concerning medieval and early modern popular culture.

Analysing and critically evaluating evidence and arguments through engagement with primary and secondary sources related to popular attitudes, values and customs in premodern Britain.

Effective communication through critical engagement in seminar discussions with peers.

Constructing and effectively communicating their own arguments based on evidence and logic via assessed pieces of written work.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Taylor Aucoin
Course secretaryMiss Katherine Perry
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