Summer 2018 - HIST 407 D100

Popular Culture in Great Britain and Europe (4)

Class Number: 5951

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3511, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 106.



This course will study culture in Great Britain and Europe since 1500. Themes may include the sixteenth century separation between popular and elite culture, Carnival, the witch craze, popular ballads, the institution of 'rational recreation' during the Industrial Revolution, the late Victorian Music Hall, the cultural emancipation of women, and the effects on working class culture of economic depression and world war.


HIST 407 students will participate in an ongoing elaboration of thought in the humanities and social sciences:  the "material turn," which recognizes the powerful role of physical objects and artificial structures not merely in reflecting, but in shaping human experience and identity.

The study of material culture intersects with historical research in two mutually enriching ways.  First, the history of objects:  their production, use, and circulation.  Second, history from objects:  how do they illustrate, extend, deepen, or challenge our document-based understandings of the past, and what new questions do they raise?  We will familiarize ourselves with the theoretical underpinnings to both approaches, before proceeding to a series of readings focused on early modern Europe, and particularly on the domestic routines and popular culture of the lower and middling ranks of society, whose lives are least well documented in written records.  Objects highlighted in our readings (and in a few cases, hands-on study) will include pots, pans, pens, pins, ploughs, pennywhistles, pub signs, pennants, petticoats, plaids, prayer-books, poniards, porcelains . . . that is to graze the possibilities afforded by only one letter of the alphabet.


This course will give students a fresh grounding in the major themes of early modern European history, as these were registered in daily life and popular consciousness:  industrialization, urbanization, state consolidation, religious change, the globalization of trade, the scientific and consumer revolutions, the emergence of the public sphere.  Students will also acquire a versatile set of skills for interpreting the physical environment.


  • Attendance & participation 10%
  • Quizzes and in-class writing 15%
  • Oral presentation 15%
  • First paper 15%
  • MOA report 15%
  • Research proposal 5%
  • Research paper 25%



Raffaella Sarti, Europe at Home:  Family and Material Culture, 1500-1800, trans. A. Cameron (Yale Univ. Press 2004) ISBN 978-0300102598

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