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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Benjamin Schmidt
HIST 498
Seattle Campus

Colloquium in History

Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.

Class description

This colloquium investigates European travel in the pre-modern world: 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 cartographic descriptions--members of the colloquium will interrogate the intended and unintended consequences of European travel in the early modern world. Most of all, the colloquium will try to understand the ramifications of travel, both for those who voyaged abroad and for those armchair travelers who stayed at home and read about it. Themes considered include: Renaissance cosmopolitanism and provincialism; Europe's encounter with the New World; utopianism and exotic drama; the expansion of global commerce and exchange; the cultivation of exoticism; the development of "scientific" travel. This colloquium covers a large period of time 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 varieties of travel, and it ends by looking forward to the modern, "scientific" voyages that introduced Europeans and their American counterparts 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

General method of instruction

Seminar (weekly discussions).

Recommended preparation

A basic familiarity with early modern history would be helpful. Those who have not taken a relevant survey course (HSTEU 301, for example) are encouraged to read a good textbook on this period (E. Rice and A. Grafton, Foundations of Early Modern Europe).

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to read and engage each week with a variety of texts and come to class well prepared for seminar discussion. Written assignments will include weekly papers of various form and length and a longer paper due at the end of the quarter. All three components of the course--reading and participation, weekly assignments, and end-of-quarter essay--are evaluated in determining final grades.

Class participation, papers.


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: 05/14/2009