Spring 2023 - HIST 336 D100

Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe (4)

Class Number: 4892

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 223 or 224.



An examination of intellectual developments of early modern Europe (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) in their broader social, cultural, political or economic contexts. The course will focus on a particular subject e.g. Northern humanism, debates about the nature and social role of women (the querelle de femmes), the Enlightenment. Students will read excerpts from important contemporary sources.


Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe:  The Debate about Gender and Identity

Why did women and men argue about gender identity in early modern Europe (1500-1800)?  The “quarrel about women,” the querelle des femmes, drove an ongoing debate about the moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social status of women in which early feminism clashed with misogyny. The debate asserted and questioned the inequality that women experienced because they were women.

We shall pay special attention to primary sources. They will complement our survey of the biological, economic, cultural, spiritual, and political contexts in which women found themselves. Students will choose primary sources as the focus of their research essay. Classroom meetings will consist of a mix of lectures and interactive discussions.




The course requirements of History 336 will help you achieve the educational goals of undergraduate courses in the Department of History. By the end of the course, you will be able to

  • identify the main social contexts in which early modern European women operated and the ideas that governed these social contexts.
  • articulate significant characteristics of gender history.
  • analyze and evaluate specific positions, accessible in primary sources, in the early modern European debate about women, gender, and identity.


  • Participation (oral and written) 15%
  • Two tests (9% each: 1 Feb., 1 Mar.)* 18%
  • Short Essay (800-1000 words, due 3 Mar.)* 20%
  • Prospectus for Research Essay (due 17 Feb.)* 10%
  • Class Presentation (Weeks 9/10-12)* 7%
  • Research Essay (1800-2000 words, due 5 Apr.)* 30%


The assessment of these goals will take several forms: regular class participation and a group presentation that facilitates class discussion of an aspect of the debate, two tests that will evaluate your grasp of essential information about the way in which the interaction of ideas and society affected early modern European women, a short essay in which you will analyze one chapter of the textbook and an accompanying primary source, a longer essay in which you will draw on several primary sources and some secondary sources, and a prospectus that will prepare you for a research essay.

*Please note that the dates listed above are tentative. 

We shall use Canvas in several ways.  You can download a Canvas app for your devices.



  • Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks-Hanks, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 4th edition (2019) for purchase as a paperback or e-book from the SFU Book Store or at ca or from VitalSource.
  • Primary sources available electronically from the SFU library through the course syllabus.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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