Fall 2018 - HIST 336 D100

Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe (4)

Class Number: 5187

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5039, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Hilmar Pabel
    1 778 782-5816
    Office: AQ 6230
  • 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 questioned and asserted the inequality that women experienced because they were women.  We shall begin our study of early modern female identities with a survey of the biological, economic, cultural, spiritual, and political contexts in which women found themselves.  Once we have grounded ourselves in the essential historical context, we shall analyze contributions to the debate by early modern women and men.  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.  In particular, 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.
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 two secondary sources, a longer essay in which you will draw on several primary sources and some secondary sources, and a bibliography assignment that will prepare you for the longer essay.


  • Participation 10%
  • First Essay (1000-1500 words, due 5 Oct.) 20%
  • Two tests (10% each: 2 Oct., 20 Nov.) 20%
  • Annotated Bibliography (due 22 Oct.) 10%
  • Second Essay (2000-2500 words, due 27 Nov.) 30%
  • Group presentation 10%
  • Dates above are tentative



Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks-Hanks, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 3rd edition (2008).

Juan Luis Vives, The Education of a Christian Woman: A Sixteenth-Century Manual (2000)

Lucrezia Marinella, The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men (1999)

Gabrielle Suchon, A Woman who Defends all the Persons of Her Sex (2010)

François Poullain de la Barre, Three Cartesian Feminist Treatises (2002)

We will use Canvas in several ways in the course.  You can download a Canvas app for your devices.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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