Information regarding our 2022/23 admissions cycle

Our updated course listings for the 2022/23 postgraduate admissions cycle will be published at the beginning of October. Applications for 2022 entry will be available shortly after this. Check our how to apply pages for updates.

MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course unit details:
Wonders, Miracles & Supernatural Landscapes in Medieval & Early Modern Europe

Unit code HIST63192
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course will examine the ways in which wonders, miracles and supernatural landscapes shaped the lives of medieval and early modern people. It will also examine how and why extraordinary phenomena in which the sacred and natural intersect are of increasing interest to historians, opening up important new questions and insights within historical scholarship. Across the course, we will draw upon a range of textual, visual and material sources: from manuscript chronicles to printed histories and antiquarian treatises; devotional objects including relics; and maps and cosmographies. We will treat the landscape itself as a source, and examine exciting new historical work that takes this approach. An important aspect of the course will be an examination of the resources that medieval and early modern people could draw upon in order to understand the extraordinary facets of the worlds in which they lived: the texts, images and objects that they used to better understand the mysteries of the world around them and to inscribe their own meanings upon the landscape.

 

Aims

This course will examine the ways in which wonders, miracles and supernatural landscapes shaped the lives of medieval and early modern people. It will also examine how and why extraordinary phenomena in which the sacred and natural intersect are of increasing interest to historians, opening up important new questions and insights within historical scholarship. Across the course, we will draw upon a range of textual, visual and material sources: from manuscript chronicles to printed histories and antiquarian treatises; devotional objects including relics; and maps and cosmographies. We will treat the landscape itself as a source, and examine exciting new historical work that takes this approach. An important aspect of the course will be an examination of the resources that medieval and early modern people could draw upon in order to understand the extraordinary facets of the worlds in which they lived: texts, images and objects that they used to better understand the mysteries of the world around them and to inscribe their own meanings upon the landscape.

 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe and analyse the specific manifestations of miracles, wonders and supernatural landscapes explored through the case studies in this course.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the sources that medieval and early modern people drew upon in shaping their own understanding of these places and phenomena.
  • Articulate the fundamental role of religion in shaping medieval and early modern understandings of the natural world.
  • Articulate the transformations and continuities in this material across the medieval and early modern periods.

Intellectual skills

  • Engage critically with relevant fields of historical research and interdisciplinary approaches to articulate the ways in which historical approaches to this material have changed over time.
  • Locate a range of relevant primary sources and analyse them in a sophisticated way that takes account of their production, meaning, audiences, and influences.
  • Formulate research questions that build upon and engage with existing research.

 

Practical skills

  • Formulate, research and write essays that make sustained historical arguments utilising primary and secondary sources.
  • Assess the work of historians and historiographical trends through essay writing and also the preparation of a book review.
  • Articulate a response to various primary and secondary sources, as well as to comments by other students, in a seminar context.
  • Compile systematic bibliographies and to present them according to scholarly conventions.
  • Manage a sustained program of regular weekly work.
  • Gain experience in problem solving, leadership and teamwork.

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Articulate and develop informed and reasoned argument in written and oral form.
  • Organise own learning through self-management and work to deadlines.
  • Write fluent continuous prose.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work in a group and show leadership.
  • Identify, analyse and apply a wide range of data to formulate and solve problems.
  • Ability to bring analytical and research skills to bear on the formulation and design of proposals. 

Employability skills

Other
¿ Work to a deadline to produce a significant piece of work ¿ Present complex ideas in written and oral forms ¿ Research independently

Assessment methods

Essay 75%
Book Review 25%

 

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on coursework

Formative and Summative

Oral feedback in seminar presentation

Formative

Additional one-to-one oral feedback (office hours or by appointment)

Formative

 

Recommended reading

- Eric Jorink, Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575-1715, trans. Peter Mason (Leiden: Brill, 2010)

- Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature 1150-1750 (New York: Zone Books, 1998)

- John Howe and Michael Wolfe (eds.), Inventing Medieval Landscapes: Senses of Place in Western Europe (Gainesville: Florida University Press, 2002)

- Richard Jones, The Medieval Natural World (London: Pearson, 2013)

- Kathy Lavezzo, Angels on the Edge of the World: Geography, Literature, and English Community, 1000-1534 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006)

- Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1991)

- Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (London: Fontana, 1996)

- Philip M. Soergel, Miracles and the Protestant Imagination: The Evangelical Wonder Book in Reformation Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

- Alexandra Walsham, The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

- Carl Watkins, History and the Supernatural in Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

- Diana Webb, Saints and Cities in Medieval Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007)

- Simon Yarrow, Saints and their Communities: Miracle Stories in Twelfth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 16.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 133.5

Return to course details