Spring 2020 - HUM 385 D100

Selected Topics in European Cultures (4)

Going Small - Microhumanities

Class Number: 8809

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 4115, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An interdisciplinary approach to a topic focusing on European thought and culture.


  Going Small Microhistory, Micro Medieval Studies, Micro Humanities

A course for the intellectually curious, those who like to examine intriguing little things and how they connect to the wider world. Discover your inner Sherlock Holmes, that wry social observer of human experience who lurks inside each of us. Since the 1970s there has been a particular interest in looking at the past through its odd or marginal events, people, and things. Robert Darnton characterized one aspect of this as “incident analysis” while Carlo Ginzburg and his Italian school called it “microhistory.” ‘Going small’ does not directly upend macrohistory and large sweeping narratives but rather shows us that big history misses much. This course will pursue the particular and the peculiar in a different way. Ginzburg’s weird miller Menocchio, medieval weather wizards, and the case of Martin Guerre’s identity theft in an early-modern village will take us on a bumpy ride through the neglected underside of European life. In break-out sessions, the class will take up other revealing moments, people, and things (the Great Cat Massacre, Pieter Bruegel’s stoneheads, object histories, a monk on military campaign, and many other small inquiries), and try to explore the reach and value of pursuing little things in history, medieval studies, and humanities in general (in art, literature, and cultural studies).


  • Small Assignments (5) 25%
  • Final Essay Proposal 10%
  • Final Essay 40%
  • Attendance & Participation 25%


This version of HUM 382 qualifies for credit toward the Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies



Magnusson and Szijarto, What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice (on-line access) Microhistory and the Historical Imagination: New Frontiers, ed. Robischeaux
ISBN: JMEMS 47.1, (online)

Konnikova, Mastermind: How to Think like Sherlock Holmes.
ISBN: 9780143124344

Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller
ISBN: 9781421409887

Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre.
ISBN: 0674766911

*all paperbacks, all also on reserve, and many available in electronic versions

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html