Fall and Spring 2000, Sophomore Tutorial in Early Modern Europe

Th 2-4

Barker 128


Nathan Alexander, wnalexan@fas. Off hrs: W 2-4, Barker Ctr 051, 5-3463

Ann Blair, amblair@fas Off hrs: M2:30-4:30, Robinson Hall 216, 5-0752; no mailbox in Hist and Lit office--mailbox is in Robinson Hall 200



This tutorial is designed as an introduction to major themes in the history and literature of early modern Europe through the study of selected primary sources. The two-semester sequence is divided into thematic units which are structured roughly chronologically.



-a spirit of collaborative exploration

-regular attendance, active and informed participation; each week one student will be asked to give a brief oral report providing background information on the author read that week [report: 15%; general participation: 15%]

-a short paper (4-6pp), due in Week IV (on Boccaccio or Rabelais; details TBA) [20%]

-a bibliographical essay (5-7pp) on the topic of your final paper, due in Week XIII [20%]

-a final paper (10-12pp) due at the end of reading period: in-depth analysis of an assigned primary source (or another one, by prior agreement with a tutor) in light of relevant secondary literature [30%]


Available for purchase at the COOP:

Eugene Rice, The foundations of early modern Europe. ISBN: 0393963047

Boccaccio, The Decameron. Norton critical edition. 0393091325. $12.80

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel. Norton edition. 0393308065.

Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain. viking. 0140441239. $11.95

Jonathan Spence. The memory palace of Matteo Ricci. Viking Pr. 0140080988

Cervantes, Don Quijote, Norton critical edition. 039397281. $17.75

Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier. Penguin. 0140441921. $13.95

Molière, The Bourgeois gentleman. Applause Theatre Books. 0936839775

Saint-Simon, Memoirs, 1691-1709. Prion Books. 1853753521. $19.95

Walter Benn Michaels, Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism. Duke UP. 0822320649



Week I (Sept 21): introduction


Reading: Eugene Rice, The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, chs. 2 and 4. (at COOP and on reserve in libraries)

Martin Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," in The Question Concerning Technology and other essays (please pick up a copy in the tutorial mailbox)

to read and discuss in class: excerpts from Strabo's Geography and maps from various periods


 Unit I: Renaissance and Reformation

Week II (Sept 28): Boccaccio

Reading: Boccaccio, Decameron, selections plus "an introduction to Boccaccio" and contemporary reactions, in Norton edition, beginning to p. 202.

Terence Cave, The Cornucopian Text ch. 3: "interpretation"

Rice, ch. 3.


Week III (Oct 5): Rabelais

Reading: Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book I (Gargantua) trhough ch. 24; Book II (Pantagruel), entire.

Lucien Febvre, Rabelais and the Problem of Unbelief (on reserve in the libraries; also available at HUP display room): everyone read "The Problem and the Method" (pp. 11-16), then choose either ch. 4 or ch. 5 (referring back to Rabelais' text, II, 8 or II, 30 respectively).


FIRST PAPER DUE WED OCT 11 at 5pm in our History Dept mailboxes: discuss a theme of your choice in either Rabelais or Boccaccio.


Week IV (Oct 12): printing **session to be held at Houghton library**

Reading: Rice, pp. 1-10.


SPECIAL EVENT FRIDAY OCT 13, 2-4pm: session (required) with Walter Benn Michaels; reading (required): Walter Benn Michaels, Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism (1995)


Week V (Oct 19): taking stock

Preparation: preliminary reflection and research on final paper topics. We will discuss the Michaels reading and session; we will discuss methods of research and use of library resources, and the early paper ideas of each student


Week VI (Oct 26): Reformation

Reading: Thomas Platter, Autobiography (photocopy will be made available)

Rice, chs. 5-6.


 Unit II: European views of "the other"


Week VII (Nov 2): the new world

Reading: Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain, introduction, "The expedition of H. Cortez," then all sections from "Events at Vera Cruz: the Destruction of the Ships," through "Flight from Mexico" and from "Expeditions Around the Lake" through "the Siege and Capture of Mexico"

John Elliott, The Old World and the New, chs. 1, 2, 4. (on reserve in the libraries)

Rice, ch. 1.


Week VIII (Nov 9): the exotic old world--China

Reading: Jonathan Spence, The memory palace of Matteo Ricci, chs. 1, 6, 9

Matteo Ricci, China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matteo Ricci, I, chs. 1-11; II, 1, 6; III, 2, 6, 10; IV, 1-5, 7, 9, 14, 15-17; V, 1-7, 19-21. (photocopies will be made available)

Augustine, Confessions book 11 (selections on memory) (photocopies will be made available)

René Creval, "Essai sur l'exotisme," (short excerpt in English) (photocopies will be made available)


Unit III: changing ideals of nobility


Week IX (Nov 16): the courtier

Reading: Castiglione, The Book of the courtier, pp. TBA

Stephen Greenblatt, essay on self-fashioning


Week X (Nov 23): Thanksgiving


Week XI (Nov 30): Don Quixote


Reading: Cervantes, Don Quixote, Book I, chs. 1-32, 45-end; Book II: prologue, chs. 8, 17, 22.


Week XII (Dec 7): Molière

Reading: Molière, The bourgeois gentleman

Roger Chartier, "From court festivity to city spectators" [on Georges Dandin] in Forms and Meanings. Texts, Performances and Audiences from Codex to Computer.


Week XIII (Dec 14): Versailles


Reading: Saint-Simon Memoirs, 1691-1709, pp. TBA

slide show on Versailles


Winter break


FINAL PAPER due JAN 12 (last day of reading period)