Or, by appointment
Course Description This seminar will focus on selected themes in the study of European popular culture(s) during the early-modern and modern periods (16th - 20th centuries). Throughout the course, we will develop a set of interpretative and methodological concerns about the study of popular culture. Principal themes will include: definitions of popular culture; literacy and reading, popular stories and folk tales; popular religion, sainthood, the Reformation and religious change; witchcraft and vampires; the moral economy of the crowd; crime and criminality; the state and popular culture; power and domination; oral history and oral traditions; ritual and resistance.
Each student will be expected to make at least one presentation to the class, and to take part regularly in discussions of weekly material. All students will write two to three papers (7-10 pages each) which utilize primary materials and monographs from three distinct sections of the course: culture “from below” (using fairy tales); culture “from above” (using documents from the Inquisition as well as documents from witchcraft trials); and revolutionary culture (using documents from the Bolshevik revolution and the 1920s). Or, students are encouraged to do equivalent work in an independent project agreed upon with the instructor by October 12. In the past, many students (graduates and undergraduates) have used this opportunity to develop themes for advanced thesis work. Course credit is divided equally between class participation and the paper(s).
Upper-level writing credit will be given to all undergraduates taking the course for eight credits.
To expose students to different aspects and methods in the study of popular culture, there will be at least two guest speakers during the semester. The guest speakers are professors who will discuss specific aspects of their own research. Students should be advised that there may be additional short readings assigned in advance by the guest speakers. Moreover, all students who elect to do an independent project will be expected to make an oral presentation of their ongoing research near the end of the semester.
Readings The following books have been ordered at the University Bookstore, and placed on reserve. In addition, three parts of a xeroxed reader (C) of articles and primary documents are available at the Meliora Copy Center.
Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality.
B. P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe
D. Sabean, Power in the Blood
James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts Recommended Background Readings
G. Huppert, After the Black Death: A Social History of Early Modern Europe
K. Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic
COURSE SCHEDULE Week 1 Introduction Film: The Return of Martin Guerre (In French, with subtitles)
Week 2 The Historian, the Film-maker and Popular Culture N. Z. Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre
R. Finlay, “The Refashioning of Martin Guerre,” (C) and N. Z. Davis, “On the Lame” (C)
Week 3 In Search of a Method P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, chs. 1-3, and 9.
R. Redfield, “The Social Organization of Tradition” (C)
C. Geertz, “Thick Description” (C)
Week 4 Between Oral and Written Cultures P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, chs. 4-5.
N. Z. Davis, “Proverbial Wisdom and Popular Errors,” in Society and Culture in
Early Modern France
R. Darnton, “Peasants Tell Tales” (C)
Week 5 Popular Literature or Literature for the People? N. Z. Davis, “Printing and the People,” in Society and Culture in Early Modern France
M. Spufford, Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction in 17th Century England
Week 6 Reading and Popular Religion C. Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms Week 7 Reformations and Popular Cultures P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, ch. 8
E. Le Roy Ladurie, “The Paths of Scripture” (C)
N. Z. Davis, “City Women and Religious Change,” and “The Rites of Violence,” in Society and
Culture in Early Modern France
P. Benedict, “The Catholic Response to Protestantism” (C)
Week 8 Witchcraft, Magic and the Witch-Hunt C. Garrett, “Witches and Cunning Folk” (C)
H. Geertz, “An Anthropology of Religion and Magic, I;” and K. Thomas, “An Anthropology of
Religion and Magic, II,” (C)
B. P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (Selections TBA)
Week 9 Vampires and Death Cults Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality Week 10 Social Hierarchies and Hidden Transcripts J. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts Week 11 Peasants and the State David Sabean, Power in the Blood Week 12 Popular Culture and Popular Protest Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, chs. 6-7
E. P. Thompson, “The Moral Economy of the Crowd,” (C) and “Patrician Society, Plebian
N. Z. Davis, “Strikes and Salvation at Lyons,” and “The Reasons of Misrule,” and “Women and
Top,” in Society and Culture in Early Modern France Week 13 Ritual and Revolt E. Le Roy Ladurie, Carnival in Romans (Selections TBA)
Week 14 Revolutionary Culture E. Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” and “Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe,
R. Stites, “Festivals of the People,” “The Republic of Equals,” and “Man the Machine,” in Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (C)
Final Papers are due in Professor Burds’ office no later than 2:00 pm on December 20.