Instructor: Bruce L. Venarde, Associate Professor of History
Office: Posvar Hall 3M26, 624-8437
Office hours: Wednesdays, 11-1
What is Europe, how has it developed, and why has this little peninsula off the western end of Asia come to matter so much in world history? These are the organizing questions of History 2070/Cultural Studies 3070, Readings in Early European History. The course introduces major themes in European history, East and West, from the early Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. The work of the seminar is oral and written discussion of major scholarly studies with broad implications for understanding pre-modern European societies, institutions, and cultures. The events of the last decade or so make it clear that to divide Europe into "Eastern" and "Western" does not reflect the long view of the European past, and that the nation-state is often still an inadequate basis for understanding Europeans' own identities. This colloquium will seek out the origins of European exceptionalism and European diversity.

This is a discussion course, with a) common reading, usually a book, each week, b) short weekly papers, and c) supplementary reports.

Each week before the class meeting and no later than Wednesday morning at 10, students will submit a short (500-700 words) critical commentary on the common reading at hand; these papers will serve to organize discussion and debate. Papers might take the form of a summary analysis, focus on a specific aspect of a given book's subject matter, or discuss nitty-gritty matters (e.g. source use, organization, style). The only strict guidelines are that the papers demonstrate serious thought about the work at hand and are written in elegant and lucid prose making your reflections readily accessible to others.

Each participant will also present to the colloquium another book in oral and written form once during the semester. An oral report of about 10 minutes will summarize the book and its conclusions and make comparisons to the common reading to elicit further discussion. No more than two weeks later, there will also be a formal written review of 1200-1500 words, in the style of reviews in academic journals, to be distributed to all members of the colloquium.

Engaged participation in discussions: approximately 40%

Weekly papers and book review: approximately 60%

* available in the Book Center and on reserve in Hillman
+ on the TransEuropean Comprehensive Examination list

Note: The syllabus works in roughly chronological order. You may find it helpful to review the major events and themes as we go along. The first volume of Thomas F.X. Noble et al., Western Civilization: The Continuing Experiment, 2nd edition (1998), which covers the pre-modern West, is available in the Book Center under History 0100.
January 12th

*Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, AD 200-1000 (1996)

Report: J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Barbarian West, 400-1000 (1952)

January 19th

*+Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization, and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (1993)

Report: R.W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (1952)

January 26th

*+Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (1983)

Report: James A. Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (1987)

February 2nd

*+R. I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 (1987)

Report: Eve Levin, Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 (1989)

February 9th

*+Renate Bridenthal et al., Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 3rd edition (1998), selections TBA

Articles by David Herlihy and Caroline Walker Bynum TBA

February 16th


February 23rd

*+Jerome Blum, Lord and Peasant in Russia from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century (1961)

Report: Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus: 750-1200 (1996)

March 1st

*Peter Burke, The European Renaissance: Centres and Peripheries (1998)

Report: +Lauro Martines, Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy (1978)

March 8th


March 15th

*Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World, volume 3 of Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century (1979)

Report: Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (1974)

March 22nd

*+Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, The Peasants of Languedoc (1966)

Report: +Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (1978)

March 29th

*+Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 (1988)

Report: +Hugh F. Kearney, Science and Change, 1500-1700 (1971)

April 5th

*+Daniel Chirot et al., The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern Europe: Economics and Politics from the Middle Ages Until the Early Twentieth Century (1989)

Report: Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1988)

April 12th

*+Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (1994)

Report: Peter Gay, The Enlightenment, volume 1: The Rise of Modern Paganism (1966)

April 19th

*+Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997)