There will be an entry test for this course.
In a rapidly globalizing world historians are trying to create a global past . At the same time European historians are faced with the Europeanisation of their continent. In spite of a growing awareness of the challenge to move away from Eurocentric approaches to global history, the debate on the origin of globalization is still often connected with the early modern European overseas expansion.
This course aims to frame and understand the medieval expansion of Europe (1000-1500) in a global context and thus to relate to the debate on the origin of globalization. The expansion of latin Christianity, the nobility and merchants to the European peripheries and beyond resulted in increasing cross-cultural connections with the Near East, Africa, Asia and America. The expansion of the Vikings to America, the Crusades, the travels of European traders, missionaries and diplomats, including Marco Polo, John of Monte Corvino and William of Rubroek deep into Asia, but also that of fantasy travelers as John Mandeville and the myth of Prester John will be discussed. Particular attention will be paid to the following issues: how did Europe through these ‘explorers’ become more involved with the rest of the world? How was the knowledge on the non-European world recorded? How was it distributed and processed in the existing worldview? What was the relationship between fact and fiction in the close relationship between the expansion of medieval Europe and the voyages of Columbus, Vasco da Gama and others at the end of the fifteenth century?
The discussion of all these questions will explicitly be related to the current globalization debate, focusing on connections, comparisons and systems. By the global framing of the medieval expansion of Europe new questions can be asked to well known primary sources, which will be studied in translation. Ultimately the global approach to history will appear to be quite medieval.
There will be an entry test during the first course: required reading, see reading list below.
The course will enhance your insight in the medieval expansion of Europe in a global context and your awareness of problems of periodization. It will also help develop your skills in the identification, selection and critical analysis of premodern sources, more specifically sources related to travel by merchants, warriors, embassadors and pilgrims, and so prepare you for writing your dissertation. A key focus of discussion will also be how to develop a research question in tandem with the possibilities and limitations of the primary sources available.
MA students will be writing an essay with a focus on one type of expansion and related connections and/or one ‘explorer’ who has written about his experiences. The essay will reflect on the different approaches brought to the subject chosen by specialists while at the same time framing it in recent historiography on global history.
ResMA students will additionally be expected to study more than one ‘explorer’, or to make a comparison between ‘expansions and connections’ in different areas. They are also expected to reflect on the methodological challenges of comparative approaches.
General learning objectives
The student has acquired:
- The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
- The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
- The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
- The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
- The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
- The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
- The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
- The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
- (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.
Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation
- Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
- in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodization and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.
- Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:
- in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: the ability to analyse and evaluate primary sources from the period, if necessary with the aid of modern translations; ability to make use of relevant methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret sources in their textual and historical context.
Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar
- Will acquire knowledge and understanding of the medieval expansion of Europe, of its main contemporary sources, and of its later historiography in a global context
- Will learn to think beyond the usual boundaries in time and space, that is across the traditional caesura in European history, and across the European world of Christendom.
- Will learn to write an essay with a focus on one type of expansion and related connections and/or one ‘explorer’ who has written about his experiences. He will learn to reflect on the different approaches brought to the subject chosen by specialists while at the same time he will learn to frame it in recent historiography on global history.
- ResMA students will additionally learn to make a comparison between ‘expansions and connections’ in different areas. They will also learn to reflect on the methodological challenges of comparative approaches.
See Timetable and deadlines History
Mode of instruction
Total study load: 10EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours
Presence at seminars (12 × 2 ): 24 hours
Entry test and Study of literature first 6 weeks (6 × 10): 60 hours
Preparation bibliographical survey (discussion paper): 40 hours
Preparation oral presentation: 56 hours
(Further) research & writing final report: 100 hours
Assessment method Assessment
Final Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 9-15
Entry test and study of literature first six weeks
Measured learning objectives: 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13-15
Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 8-15
Preparation bibliographical survey
Measured learning objectives: 1, 2, 4, 7-9, 12, 14-15
Bibliographical research, including published sources
Measured learning objectives: 1-6, 8-15
Final written paper: 60%
Entry test and participation: 10%
Oral presentation: 20%
Assignment 2: %
Assignment 3: %
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that all elements must always be sufficient.
Written papers should be handed in within the given deadline
Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.
In this course Blackboard is used for:
- Course documents
Required reading for the entry test which will take place during the first class:
M. Borgolte, ‘A crisis of the Middle Ages? Deconstructing and Constructing European Identities in a Globalised World’ (Leeds 2 maart 2012). Download here
E. Edson, ‘The Medieval World View: Contemplating the Mappamundi’, History Compass 8 no. 6 (2010) 503-517.
G. Henge, ‘The Global Middle Ages: An Experiment in Collaborative Humanities, or Imagining the World, 500–1500 C.E.’, English Language Notes 47 no. 1 (Spring / Summer 2009) 205-216.
R.I. Moore, ‘Medieval Europe in World History’ in C. Lansing and E.D. English eds., A Companion to the Medieval World (Malden MA, Oxford and Chichester) 563-580.
J. Nederveen Pieterse, ‘Periodizing Globalization: Histories of Globalization’, New Global Studies 6 no. 2 (2012) 1-25.
T. Ruiz, ‘Medieval Europe and the World: Why Medievalists should also be World Historians’, History Compass 4 no. 6 (2006), 1073-1088.
Further reading requirements will be announced during the course.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch.