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Department of History

Haverford College

 

Professor Lisa Jane Graham

History 227a: Statecraft and Selfhood in Early Modern Europe (1550-1715)

Class meetings: Tues/Thurs: 2:30-4:00 PM in Hall 201
Office: Hall 212
Office telephone: 896-1073
Office hours: Tues: 4:00-5:30 PM; or by appointment.

Course Objectives

We are constantly told that we live in an age of postmodernity: our taste, our buildings, our politics, and our economies. At the same time, we see the resurgence of violent religious and ethnic struggles around the planet that challenge the notion of modernity. This leads to the questions: what do we mean by modern and how modern are we? In order to answer these questions, we need to cast our glance back to the seventeenth century when the project of modernity was first conceived. Integral pieces of this project include the rise of the territorial state and the principle of secular government; the emergence of skepticism and reason as tools of human inquiry; and the promotion of law and commerce as organizing social principles. Each of these developments shaped a new understanding of the individual as an agent of historical change. In tracking the origins of modernity, we will focus on identifying the terms of the debates and their stakes.


The seventeenth century was a violent and disorienting era as Europeans grappled with the uncertainties unleashed by the discovery of the New World and the Protestant Reformation. This lack of fixed boundaries arguably freed the human mind and spurred creativity in all domains. The great revolutions of the eighteenth century, including our own, are indebted intellectually and historically to the conflicts and achievements of the seventeenth century. This course will explore the major political, social, economic and cultural developments that transformed European life between in the seventeenth century with a focus on France, Spain, and England as the three primary case studies.

Required Reading

  • William Beik, Louis XIV and Absolutism
  • Jean Bodin, On Sovereignty
  • Richard Kagan, Lucrecia’s Dreams
  • Madame de Lafayette, The Princesse de Cleves
  • Molière, Tartuffe
  • Michel de Montaigne, The Essays
  • Richelieu, Political Testament
  • William Shakespeare, Richard II
  • Andrew Sharp, ed., The English Levellers
  • Wayne Te Brake, Entering Politics

Recommended Reading
Joseph Bergin, The Seventeenth-Century (this is the textbook for the course; it is on reserve at Magill library as well).

Reserve Reading: Readings preceded by an asterisk are available on Blackboard. Students who have a reading knowledge of French or Spanish are encouraged to read the assigned plays in the original language.

Requirements:

  • Attend class, keep up with reading, and participate in discussion.
  • One short (5 pp.) paper based on class readings; one longer (8-10 pp.) research paper based on a topic of your choice (details and deadlines TBA); and a take-home final exam.
  • Students are responsible for turning in papers to the instructor by the prescribed deadline. In fairness to other students, late papers will be penalized by grade penalties. More than three unexplained absences will lower your grade.

COURSE OUTLINE

Part I: Subjects and Sovereigns

Aug 30 Introduction

Sept 1,6,8 Early Modern Identity: Skepticism and Self-Discovery
Montaigne, Selected Essays (Book I: 1, 8, 16, 26, 27, 31, 39.)
(Book II: 11, 35. Book III: 6, 11, 13.)
*Burke, “Representations of the Self”
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp. 1-36 and pp. 185-216)

Sept. 13/15 Prophets and Power

Kagan, Lucrecia’s Dreams
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 1-30)
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp. 145-151)


Sept. 20/22 Political Theory I: Absolutism

Bodin, On Sovereignty
*James I, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies


Sept. 27/29 Political Theory II: Resistance and Republicanism

*Mornay, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos
*Gelderin, Dutch Revolt
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 63-108)


Part II: Culture and Power


Oct. 4/6 Staging Kingship: The Elizabethan Theater

Shakespeare, Richard II
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 50-62)
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp. 50-74)


FIRST PAPER DUE FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER BY 4:00 PM IN MY OFFICE


FALL BREAK OCTOBER 7-16


Oct. 18/20 The Spanish Monarchy and the Arts of Power

*Elliott, “The Court of the Spanish Hapsburgs”
*Brown and Elliott, “King and Favorite in the Hall of Realms”
*Calderon, “Life is a Dream”
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 109-137)
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp. 80-90)


Oct. 25/27 Republican Aesthetics: The Dutch Golden Age

*Schama, “The Embarrassment of Riches”
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 159-165)
Bergin, The 17th-Century (ch. 1: pp. 36-49)


Nov. 1/3 Honor, Violence, and Reason of State

Richelieu, Political Testament
*Corneille, Le Cid
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 149-159)
Bergin, The 17-th Century (pp. 112-125)


Part III: Religion, State, and Society: Two Models


Nov. 8/10 The World Turned Upside Down: The English Civil War

The English Levellers (selections to be specified)
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 137-149)
*Stone, “The English Revolution”

Nov. 15/17 The King Never Dies?

*Charles I “Scaffold Speech”
*”Eikon Basilike” and “Eikonoklastes”
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp. 75-79 and pp. 90-111)


Nov. 22 Individual meetings with me to discuss your research papers.


THANKSGIVING BREAK NOV. 25-28


Nov. 29/Dec 1 The Court Society

Madame de Lafayette, The Princesse de Cleves
*Saint-Simon, “Versailles, the Court and ....”
*La Bruyere, “Characters”
Bergin, The 17th-Century (pp.125-144 and pp. 216-228)
Film: Vatel (Screening details TBD)


RESEARCH PAPER DUE ON FRIDAY DEC. 3rd AT 4:00 PM IN MY OFFICE


Dec. 6/8 The Absolutist State

Molière, Tartuffe
Beik, Louis XIV and Absolutism
Te Brake, Entering Politics (pp. 166-188)


Take-home final exam due on Friday December 16 at noon.


Last Updated July 10, 2002