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Current Debates in Medieval and Early Modern European History I


Admission requirements



The course is taught twice a year and only runs for six weeks. In these six weeks, two topics will be discussed – see the course description for the topics on offer.
In this course we will be examining current debates in the history of medieval and early modern Europe. Each student studies two topics over a period of six weeks.

Semester I, weeks 1-3: Part I:

Email: Dr. M.A. Ebben and Dr. L.J. Sicking.

Power politics and diplomacy. New approaches in the history of Western Diplomacy

One of the oldest fields in the discipline of history is the study of diplomacy. It is also often considered to be one of the most old-fashioned, conservative and Eurocentric, isolated from other areas of investigation and not susceptible to the theoretical and methodological innovations that have transformed almost other sector of the profession. These criticisms are only in part true. In the last decades diplomatic history has been very much influenced by other disciplines, especially the study of politics and anthropology. This course aims to analyse the developments in the historiography of medieval and early modern diplomacy since 1950. Special attention will be paid to new initiatives to innovate the study of the practice of diplomacy, its evolution, theory and administration.

G. Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (New York 1988).

For reading requirements, including for the first course, please consult the black board site!

Semester I, weeks 4-6, part II:

Email: Prof. Dr. P. Hoppenbrouwers and Prof. Dr. J. Pollmann.

Stuff matters! History and material culture, 1300-1700

Once upon a time, history was mainly about of the study of texts. But that has definitely begun to change. Of all the methodological ‘turns’ which historians have taking over the last few decades, the ‘material-cultural’ turn seems to be one of the most promising. New theorists on material culture are teaching us to think harder about the way in which people use things, not only for shelter, protection, survival and work, but also to shape social relations, assert status, safeguard and evoke memories, and tell others who they are. Things, some argue, have a life, even a biography. Others even claim that material things can be agents in their own right. In this part of the course we will examine some of the theory on modern material culture, and examine to what extent and to what effect this is being applied by medievalists and early modernists. We will also ask how this differs from the work that was traditionally being done by archeologists and art historians.

Course Objectives

Knowledge and understanding of:

  • Processes of political and cultural identity-formation in the period between c. 1000 and 1800.

  • The area of tension between cultural political and policital developments.


  • The ability to select and analyze independently literature and sources.

  • The ability to analyze and contextualise a historical discussion.

  • The ability to write a review or paper.


  • The ability to develop independently a judgement on the basis of incomplete information.

  • The ability to give constructive feedback on the work of others.

  • Insight into the social relevance of historical processes.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Literature Seminar.

Course Load

  • Seminars (2 hours per week during 6 weeks), 12 hours.

  • Study of compulsory literature, 60 hours.

  • Preparation oral presentation, 80 hours.

  • Writing of essay/review article, 120 hours.

Assessment method

  • Participation in discussion: 25% final mark.

  • (Oral) Presentation short paper: 25% final mark.

  • Final written essay/review article: 50% final mark.

(note that this may differ somewhat between the two parts of this course)


Blackboard is used for announcements and course documents.

Reading list

Will be made available before the summer recess in 2013.


via uSis.

Contact information

Email: Prof.dr. J.F.J. Duindam


If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch.