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Unit information: Fear and Loathing in 2020/21

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Unit name Fear and Loathing
Unit code HIST20117
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Austin
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Muslims, Christians, witches, Jews, pagans, heretics, the poor: there was no shortage of people to hate in the premodern world. Of course, no analysis of 'fear and loathing' can omit a discussion of its counterparts: interaction, respect and even acceptance.

How did the peoples of the premodern era come to terms with difference - and how did they face up to the considerable challenge of living alongside one another - in an age before modern notions of civility, manners, and liberalism? What motivated the adoption of particular strategies, whether benign or aggressive? Adopting a broad chronological and geographical scope, this unit will explore through a series of case-studies 'fear and loathing' in contexts as varied as the Middle East, Byzantium, the Mediterranean, Middle Age and Reformation-era Europe, and the New World.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Examine the particular qualities of those groups who might be the subjects of fear and loathing, in different regional and historical contexts from the Middle East to the Americas from 500 to 1800.
  2. Identify broader patterns in the way that such groups were viewed and treated.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the main theoretical and practical challenges of global and cross-cultural perspectives to the study of the medieval world and early modern period.
  4. Engage critically with broad concepts, and assess their significance and usefulness.
  5. Interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  6. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I
  7. Demonstrate skills in oral presentation appropriate to level I.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 10-minute Individual Presentation (25%) [ILOs 1, 7]; 1 x Timed Assessment (75%) [ILOs 1-6]

Reading and References

Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam (Cambridge, 2003).

Andrew Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, new edition (London, 2005).

George Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance (Cambridge MA and London, 2007).

Richard Fletcher, The Cross and the Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Muhammad to the Reformation (London, 2004).

Alexandra Walsham, Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700 (Manchester, 2009).

Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (2007).

Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Late Roman Empire (Brandeis University Press, 2001).