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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Benjamin Schmidt
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.

Class description

Travel: Wandering the Late Medieval and Early Modern World

This course is designed as an intensive introduction to the study of history for students who have recently declared their intent to be history majors. Students will receive a training in several of the basic techniques of historical analysis. Among these will be the assessment and use of source materials; an understanding of how historians work by means of reading and discussing selection of assigned readings; and the opportunity for students to plan, research, and write their own historical essays, all in close collaboration with the teacher and other students in a seminar-style class. It is expected that the skills of research and of oral and written analysis that are fostered by the class will contribute significantly to the students' subsequent success as history majors. In addition, students will be expected to consider and plan their future course of study as history majors. Each 388 centers on a different historical problem: this one focuses on European travel in the premodern world. It considers the practice, purpose, and perils of visiting, exploring, and conquering the dramatically changing world, from the late Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. Through a careful examination of primary source material--travel accounts and diaries; works of geography and geographic fiction; maps, atlases, and other visual descriptions of exotica--members of the colloquium will interrogate the intended and unintended consequences of European travel in the premodern world. Most of all, we will try to understand the ramifications of travel, both for those who voyaged abroad and for those armchair travelers who read or otherwise thought about it. Themes considered over the course of the quarter will include: Renaissance cosmopolitanism and provincialism; Europe's encounter with the New World; utopianism and exotic drama; the expansion of global trade and commercial exchange; the cultivation of "exoticism"; the development of "scientific" travel. This colloquium covers a large period of time that centers on the era known varyingly as the Renaissance, Early Modern period, and (most appropriately for our purposes) the Age of Encounter. It begins with a glance back toward late-medieval practices of travel, and it ends by looking forward to the modern, "scientific" voyages that introduced Europeans and their American descendants to the Pacific Northwest. In a sense, we begin in the center of the premodern Christian world and we end in Seattle.

Student learning goals

* read historical sources critically

* write about historical materials analytically

* speak about historical themes intelligently

General method of instruction

Seminar (reading and discussion)

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites. A familiarity with early modern history, especially of Europe, is helpful.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Benjamin Schmidt
Date: 10/11/2013