Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon



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Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, PA

Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon



An Individual Life – Rumors, Scandals, Trials and Memory

A Microhistorical Approach



Topics and Objectives


An Individual Life – Rumors, scandals, trials and memory provide an exemplary opportunity for an analysis which deals specifically with human tragedies and its function in historical context. They create a highly charged confrontation between individuals and a variety of social institutions, norms, ideas and discourses. Scandals, rumors and trials are likely to open up a window into the past where students of history can get an opportunity to try out their sense for the past and test ideas which traditional history has been eager to formalize.
In this course we will read and discuss a selection of recent monographs which deal with topics related to rumors, scandals and trials. The goal is to explore the potential and limitations of this form of historical writing and study how people who we tend to group with “the others” can draw out the function of the society at large. We will discuss the importance of memory in this respect and how it is used by those who participate in historical events to created a forum for interaction between themselves, the events, and their collective memory. We will be dealing with the concepts of “historical memory”, “collective memory” and “individual memory” and we will map out the meaning and importance of these historical concepts. In this course we will be able to deal with microhistorical subjects and evaluate the relevance they have for historical research.
Students are expected to develop their critical reading skills and work on their analytical abilities. This is going to be done with careful examination of every single assigned reading. Students are expected to focus on how arguments are constructed, what kind of sources are used and weaknesses in the over all approach. The course will follow a discussion format and preparation for every class is a necessity along with active participation in the discussion. The goal is to introduce students to important issues in history, deal with some path braking historical studies and conceptual framework which can direct them in their future reading and research.

Grading


1. Students will be responsible for presending one reading assignment to the class, where they will give a 20 minute overview over the days reading. They are expected to focus on the construction of the argument, the source material used, and weaknesses in the over all approach. Students are also expected to suggest important questions to discuss realating to the assignment. They are responsible for conducting the days discussions. This will account for 30% of the grade along with students class participation.

2. Students will work on one paper (10-15 pages) throughout the course and some will be

asked to present their findings to the class. This will account for 70% of the grade. This will not be the type of paper students are used to write in their course work, it will be an experiment where local newspapers material after 1950 is used as a fodder for the research. Students are expected to focus on some specific event and try to write a proposal for an successful historical research.

Course Material


– Alain Corbin: The Village of Cannibals. Rage and Murder in France, 1870. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1992).

– Natalie Zemon Davis: The Return of Martin Guerre (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1983).

– Augus McLaren: A Prescription for Murder. The Victorian Serial Killing of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1993).

– Michael S. Roth: The Ironist’s Cage. Memory, Trauma, and the Construction of History (New York, Columbia University Press, 1995).


Additional reading will be used throughout the course and will be found at the Library or handed out in class.


Class Schedule



Week 1


I. Introduction

– The class schedule will be discussed and the concept of memory introduced. The conceptual framework for the course will be laid out and some important methology for historical research like microhistory will be used to demonstrate the individual cases which will be dealt with in the course.


II. Memory

– What is the importance of memory for the business of history? The class will deal with a question like that in this first week of study and other related to memory. An attempt will be made to lay out why memory has become an important topic of study in historical research in recent times. Also, microhistory as a conceptual framework for research which might be called “flaky” in some circles, is going to be introduced with some specific reference to scandals and trials.



Reading:

– Peter Burke, „History and Social Memory.“ Memory: History, Culture and the Mind. Edited by Thomas Butler (New York, 1989), bls. 97-113.

– Susan A. Crane, “Writing the Individual Back into Collective Memory.” American Historical Review 102 (December 1997), bls. 1372-1385.

Additional Reading:

– Alon Confino, “Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems and Method.” American Historical Review 102 (December 1997), bls. 1386-1403.

Memory and History in Twentieth-Century Australia. Edited by Kate Darian-Smith and Paula Hamilton (Melbourne, 1994).

Museum and Memory. Edited by Susan A. Crane (Stanford, CA., 2000).



Week 2

I. Memory and Trauma

We are going to focus on some specific examples of memory as it shows in different angels of society and discuss what kind of importance it has for the study of history. Does it change our images of the past and does it reveal to us that the past is an illusions; that it only exist in our head?



Reading:

– Michael S. Roth: The Ironist’s Cage. Memory, Trauma, and the Construction of History (New York, Columbia University Press, 1995).



Additional Reading:

– Iwona Irwin-Zarecka, Frames of Remembrance. The Dynamics of Collective Memory (New Brunswick, 1994).

– Nancy Wood, Vectors of Memory: Legacies of Trauma in Postwar Europe. New York: Berg. 1999

Film:

– Memento



II. Microhistory

In this section of the course we will focus on microhistory and its importance for the type of studies we are dealing with in this course. Since scandals, trials and rumors are often linked with some specific events or small incidents, the methods of microhistory will help us to demonstrate our conceptual framework in this course.


Reading:


– Giovanni Levi: “On Microhistory.” New Perspectives on Historical Writing. Edited by Peter Burke (University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), pp. 93-113.

Additional Reading:

– Edward Muir, “Introduction: Observing Trifles.” Microhistory & the Lost People of Europe. Edited by Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero. Translated by Eren Branch (Baltimore, 1991), bls. vii-xxviii.

– John Martin, “Review Essay: Journeys to the World of the Dead: The Work of Carlo Ginzburg.” Journal of Social History 25 (Spring 1992), bls. 613-626.

– Edward Muir, “Reviews: Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method. By Carlo Ginzburg.” Journal of Social History 25 (Fall 1991), bls. 123-125.

– Alf Lüdtke, “Introduction. What is the History of Everyday Life and Who are Its Practitioners?“ The History of Everyday Life. Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life. Edited by Alf Lüdtke. Translated by William Templer (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1995), bls. 3-40.

– Jim Sharpe, “History from Below.” New Perspectives on Historical Writing. Edited by Peter Burke (University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), bls. 24-41.




Week 3


I. Microhistory and its Meaning

In this class we are going to focus on one article which deals with some very interesting topics relating to microhistory. It demonstrates the many possibilities which microhistory gives historians to focus on issues which normally are not on their agenda.



Reading:

– Carlo Ginzburg, „Microhistory: two or three things that I know about it.“ Critical Inquiry 20 (Autumn 1993), bls. 10-35.



Additional Reading:

– Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms. The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Translated by John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).

– Carlo Ginzburg, „Proofs and Possibilities: In the Margins of Natalie Zemon Davis' The Return of Martin Guerre.“ Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 37 (1988), bls. 114-127.

– Carlo Ginzburg, „Checking the Evidence: The Judge and the Historian.“ Critical Inquiry 18 (Autumn 1991), bls. 79-92.

History from Crime. Edited by Edward Muir and Cuido Ruggiero. Translated by Corrada Biazzo Curry, Margaret A. Gallucci, and Mary M. Gallucci (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Pess, 1994).
II. 16th Century France

In this class we will read a very well known monograph which has got a lot of attentions in the world of scholarship. The case is also well known and it has been on the lips of the French people for centuries and in modern times it got an new life when a film was made based on the story. We are going to study the many different presentation of the case and how historians have dealt with it.



Reading:

Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1983).



Additional Reading:

– Jean de Coras, „Memorable Decision of the High Court of Toulouse ...“ Triquarterly 55 (1982), bls. 86-103.

Edward Berenson, The Trial of Madame Caillaux (California, University of California Press, 1992).

– Judith C. Brown, Immodest Acts. The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (New York, Oxford University Press, 1986).



Week 4 – Spring Break (No Classes)

Week 5


I. 16th Century France

Film: – The Return of Martin Guerre – will be watched in class.
II. Martin Guerre Continues

We will in this class discuss how historians have dealt with the very challenging approach of telling the story of Martin Guerre as Davis handled it and how she defended her own position.



Reading:

– Robert Findlay, „The Refashioning of Martin Guerre.“ American Historical Review 93 (1988), bls. 553-571.

– Natalie Davis, „On The Lame.“ American Historical Review 93 (1988), bls. 572-603.

Additional Reading:

– Carlo Ginzburg, „Proofs and Possibilities: In the Margins of Natalie Zemon Davis' The Return of Martin Guerre.“ Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 37 (1988), bls. 114-127.



Week 6

I. The Role of Rumor in Real Life

This time we will try to focus on the importance of rumor in the daily routine of people and how it can turn against its participants. We will analysis one particular case which shows how important crowd behavior can be and how its consequences.



Reading:

– Alain Corbin: The Village of Cannibals. Rage and Murder in France, 1870. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1992).



Additional Reading:

– Gene Bucker, Giovanni and Lusanna. Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986).

– Thomas Kuehn, „Reading Microhistory: The Example of Giovanni and Lusanna.“ Journal of Modern History 61 (1989), bls. 512-534.


II. The Village of Cannibals – Continues


We will finish the book The Village of Cannibals and try to focus on its important as source of information in terms of how memory works and whether the microhistorical approach leads us to some important conclusions.

Reading:

– Alain Corbin: The Village of Cannibals. Rage and Murder in France, 1870. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1992).



Week 7

I. Prostitution and Murder in History

The plan is to focus on this book for one week. The focus will be on a very important microhistorical study which gives us an opportunity to explore that methology at its best.



Reading:

– Augus McLaren: A Prescription for Murder. The Victorian Serial Killing of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1993). – Part One.



II. Prostitution and Murder in History – Continues

Reading:

Augus McLaren: A Prescription for Murder. The Victorian Serial Killing of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1993). – Part One.


Papers are due in the end of the class the 25th of April


Week 8


I. and II. The Final analysis and Students Papers presented

We will wrap the class up in this final week and give some students an opportunity to deliver their papers.



Bibliography
– Rudolph M. Bell and Judith C. Brown, „Renaissance Sexuality and the Florentine Archives: An Exchange.“ Renaissance Quarterly 40 (1987), pp. 485-511.
– Edward Berenson, The Trial of Madame Caillaux (California, University of California Press, 1992). See also the same author: „The Politics of Divorce in France of the Belle Epoque: The Case of Joseph and Henrietta Caillaux.“ American Historical Review 93 (1988), pp. 31-55.
– Judith C. Brown, Immodest Acts. The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (New York, Oxford University Press, 1986).
– Gene Bucker, Giovanni and Lusanna. Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986).
– Peter Burke, „Overture: the New History, its Past and its Future.“ New Perspectives on Historical Writing. Edited by Peter Burke. (University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), pp. 1-24.
– Carlo M. Cipolla, Faith, Reason, and the Plague in Seventeenth-Century Tuscany (New York, Norton & Company, 1979).
– Anna Clark, „Queen Caroline and the Sexual Politics of Popular Culture in London, 1820.“ Representations 31(Summer 1990), pp. 47-68.
– Patricia Cline Cohen, „The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Eroticization of Violence.“ Legal Studies Forum 17 (1993), pp. 133-145.
– Patricia Cline Cohen, „The Helen Jewett Murder: Violence, Gender, and Sexual Licentiousness in Antebellum America.“ National Women's Studies Association Journal 2 (Summer 1990), pp. 374-389.
– Patricia Cline Cohen, „Unregulated Youth: Masculinity and Murder in the 1830s City.“ Radical History Review 52 (Winter 1992), pp. 33-52.
– Patricia Cline Cohen, „Ministerial Misdeeds: The Onderdonk Trial and Sexual Harassment in the 1840s.“ Journal of Women's History 7 (Fall 1995), pp. 34-57.
– Alain Corbin, The Village of Cannibals. Race and Murder in France, 1870. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1992).
– Harold J. Cook, The Trials of An Ordinary Doctor: Joannes Croenevelt in Seventeenth-Century London (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).
– Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (New York, Random House, 1984).

Scholarly debates about the work of Robert Darnton:

• Harold Mah, „Surpressing the Text: The Metaphysics of Ethnographic History in Dartons Great Cat Massacre.“ History Workshop Journal 31 (Spring 1991), pp. 1-20.

• James Fernandez, „Historians Tell Tales: Of Cartesian Cats and Gallic Cockfights.“ Journal of Modern History 60 (1988), pp. 113-127.

• Dominick LaCapra, „Chartier, Darnton, and the Great Symbol Massacre.“ Journal of Modern History 60 (1988), pp. 95-112.

• Robert Darnton, „The Symbolic Element in History.“ Journal of Modern History 58 (1986), pp. 218-234.



• Roger Chartier, „Text, Symbols, and Frenchness.“ Journal of Modern History 57 (1985), pp. 682-695.
– Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1983).
– Natalie Davis, „On The Lame.“ American Historical Review 93 (1988), pp. 572-603.
– Natalie Zemon Davis, „Narrative as Knowing. Stories and the Hunger to Know.“ The Yale Journal of Criticism 5 (1992), pp. 159-163.
– Jean de Coras, „Memorable Decision of the High Court of Toulouse ...“ Triquarterly 55 (1982), pp. 86-103.
– Lisa Duggan, „The Trials of Alice Mitchell: Sensationalism, Sexology and the Lesbian Subject in Turn-of-the-Century America.“ Signs 18 (Summer 1993), pp. 791-814.
– Florike Egmond and Peter Mason, The Mammoth and the Mouse: Microhistory and Morophology (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).
– Geoff Eley, „Labor History, Social History, Alltagsgeschichte: Experience, Culture, and the Politics of the Everyday – a New Direction for German Social History?“ Journal of Modern History 61 (1989), pp. 297-343.
– Robert Findlay, „The Refashioning of Martin Guerre.“ American Historical Review 93 (1988), pp. 553-571.
– Carlo Ginzburg, „Just One Witness.“ Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the Final Solution (Cambridge, Mass., ).
– Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms. The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Translated by John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).
– Carlo Ginzburg, „Proofs and Possibilities: In the Margins of Natalie Zemon Davis' The Return of Martin Guerre.“ Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 37 (1988), pp. 114-127.
– Carlo Ginzburg, „Microhistory: two or three things that I know about it.“ Critical Inquiry 20 (Autumn 1993), pp. 10-35.
– Carlo Ginzburg, „Checking the Evidence: The Judge and the Historian.“ Critical Inquiry 18 (Autumn 1991), pp. 79-92.
– Carlo Ginzburg and Carlo Poni, „The Name and the Game: Unequal Exchange and the Historical Marketplace.“ Microhistory & the Lost People of Europe. Edited by Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero. Translated by Eren Branch (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 1-10.
– Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method. Translated by John and Anne C. Tedeschi (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). fia› eru margar greina sem eru áhugaver›ar í flessu riti Ginzburg en flekktust er ef til vill grein sem heitir: „Clues: Roots of a Evidential Paradigm,“ pp. 96-125.
– Carlo Ginzburg, „The Philosopher and the Witches: An Experiment in Cultural History.“ Acta-Ethnographica-Academiae-Scientarum-Hungaricae 37 (1991-92), pp. 283-292.
– Alice Kessler-Harris, Social History. The New American History. (Temple University Press, 1990).
– Cynthia Herrup, „New Shoes and Mutton Pies: Investigative Responses to Theft in Seventeeth-Century East Sussex.“ The Historical Journal 27 (1984), pp. 811-830.
History from Crime. Edited by Edward Muir and Cuido Ruggiero. Translated by Corrada Biazzo Curry, Margaret A. Gallucci, and Mary M. Gallucci (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Pess, 1994).
– Margaret L. King, The Death of the Child Valerio Marcello (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1994).
– Robert M. Kingdon, Adultery and Divorce in Calvin's Geneva (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1995).
– Thomas Kuehn, „Reading Microhistory: The Example of Giovanni og Lusanna.“ Journal of Modern History 61 (1989), pp. 512-534.
– Dominick LaCapra, „The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Twentieth-Century Historian.“ History and Criticism (Cornell University Press, 1985), pp. 45-69.
– Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou. The Promised Land of Error. Translated by Barbara Bray (New York, Vintage Books, 1979).
– Giovanni Levi, „On Microhistory.ˇ New Perspectives on Historical Writing. Edited by Peter Burke (University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), pp. 93-113.
– Alf Lüdtke, „Introduction. What is the History of Everyday Life and Who are Its Practitioners?“ The History of Everyday Life. Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life. Edited by Alf Lüdtke. Translated by William Templer (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 3-40.
– Alan Macfarlane, The Family Life of Ralph Josselin. A Seventeenth Century Clergyman (New York, Norton & Company, 1970).
– Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, Menntun, ást og sorg. Einsögurannsókn á íslensku sveitasamfélagi 19. og 20. aldar. Sagnfræðirannsóknir 13 (Reykjavík, Sagnfræ›istofnun og Háskólaútgáfan, 1997).
– Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, „Félagssagan fyrr og nú.“ Einsagan – Ólíkar leiðir. Ritstjórar Erla Hulda Halldórsdóttir og Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon (Reykjavík, 1998).
– John Martin, „Review Essay: Journeys to the World of the Dead: The Work of Carlo Ginzburg.“ Journal of Social History 25 (Spring 1992), pp. 613-626.
– Sarah Maza, Private Lives and Public Affairs. The Causes Célébres of Prerevolutionary France (California, University of California Press, 1993).
– Angus McLaren, A Prescription for Murder. The Victorian Serial Killings of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1993).
– Anthony Molho, „[Review] Giovanni and Lusanna: Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence, by Gene Brucker.“ Renaissance Quarterly 40 (1987), pp. 96-100.
– Edward Muir, „Introduction: Observing Trifles.“ Microhistory & the Lost People of Europe. Edited by Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero. Translated by Eren Branch (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. vii-xxviii.
– Edward Muir, „Reviews: Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method. By Carlo Ginzburg.“ Journal og Social History 25 (Fall 1991), pp. 123-125.
Steven Ozment, Magdalena & Balthasar. An Intimate Portrait of Life in 16th-Century Europe Revealed in the Letters of a Nuremberg Husband and Wife (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989).
– Steven Ozment, The Bürgermeister's Daughter. Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town (New York, St. Martin's Press, 1996).
– Steven Ozment, Three Behaim Boys. Growing Up in Early Modern Germany (New Haven, Yake University Press, 1990).
– Idanna Pucci, The Trials of Maria Barbella. The True Story of a 19th-Century Crime of Passion (New York, Vintage Books, 1997).
– Nick Salvatore, We All Got History. The Memory Books of Amos Webber ( New York, Random House, 1996).
Sex & Gender in Historical Perspective. Edited by Edward Muir and Guido Ruggerio. Translated by Margaret A. Gallucci with Mary M. Gallucci and Carole C. Gallucci (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990).
– Jim Sharpe, „History from Below.“ New Perspectives on Historical Writing. Edited by Peter Burke (University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), pp. 24-41.
– Richard Sherr, „A Canon, A Choirboy, and Homosexuality in Late Sixteenth-Century Italy: A Case Study.“ Journal of Homosexuality 21 (1991), pp. 1-22.
– Amy Gilman Srebnick, The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers. Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995).
– Dorothee Wierling, „The History of Everyday Life and Gender Relations: On Historical and Historiographical Relationships.“ The History of Everyday Life, pp. 149-168.
– Larry Wolff, Child Abuse in Freud´s Vienna. Postcards from the End og the World (New York, New York University Press, 1988).




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