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Seminar Group C

Tutor: Naomi Pullinan01043092_001_l.jpg


Office hours: Tuesdays 2-4, in H0.19

Tuesdays 1-2

Tom Cain; Sophie White; Niamh Oldham; Richard Blundell; Hannah Howard; Alex Rossiter; Rebecca Dugard; Sian Gilbert; Joe Shillito; Joe Pennington; Ella Rogers; Jim McKenna; Vaughan Tinsley; Shelby Roberts; Liliane Broschart.

When am I presenting?

Week 22 - Slaves and Blacks

This will be the final substantive seminar of our course and we will be thinking about the place of slaves in pre-modern society and the problem of 'race' as a pre-modern idea. We will consider the following questions:

  • How widely was slavery practised in the pre-modern period?
  • How was slavery justified in pre-modern society?
  • How were blacks viewed by pre-modern Europeans?
  • Why is racism a problematic term when applied to pre-modern attitudes?

In preparation for the seminar please read two items from the reading list and come to the seminar prepared toexplain them to the rest of the group.

Easter Vacation

  • Long-essays: For titles not taken from the essay questions section on the module website, please get these approved by the module convenor, Penny Roberts (
  • Third non-assessed essay: Your next non-assessed essay is due Friday Week 1 of next term (24 April). This should be in the form of a practice exam question. Revise a topic/group of deviants, choose an exam question from the past exam papers available online, time yourself, spending no more than 1 hour planning and writing the essay. Submitted copies can be hand-written or typed.
  • Exams: Please be aware that you can't replicate deviant groups in your exams, e.g. if you use witches as a case study for one question, you won't be able to use them again in another question. You will therefore need to explore the experiences of at least four different groups of deviants in your two essays. If in doubt about replicating material/content from your long-essays in the exam, leave it out.

Week 21 - Protestant and Catholic Minorities

We will be continuining the theme of religious deviance this week, and will spend some time considering the experiences of Protestant and Catholic minorities in the post-Reformation period. We will consider the following questions:

  • Were these religious minorities tolerated or persecuted in early modern Europe?
  • How far did this change over time?
  • Were they treated differently to other religious minorities in pre-modern society? Why?
  • What threat did these minorities pose to pre-modern societies?

In preparation for the seminar, please prepare the following:

  • Read the Introduction and Ch. 12 of B. J. Kaplan's, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, Mass and London, 2007). (let me know if you have any problems accessing the digitised texts)
  • I have assigned you each a religious minority. Please choose a relevant item from the reading list and come prepared to explain the experiences of this group of deviants to the rest of the group. (let me know if there's a specific group you'd like to focus on).

Hugenots: Tom, Sophie, Niamh and Hannah

Other Protestant Minorities: Richard, Rebecca, Joe S and Vaughan

English Catholics/Recusants: Joe P, Alex, Sian and Jim

Jansenists: Shelby, Liliane, and Joe S

Week 20 - Radicals and Atheists

We are going to focus on the impact of the Reformation on religious deviance and will be looking at radical religious minorities and atheists. We will consider the following questions:

  • What threat were radicals and atheists believed to pose in early modern Europe?
  • What threat did they actually pose, and to whom?
  • How were they treated by the authorities?
  • Was it possible to be a pre-modern atheist?

In preparation, please read the following:

  • Choose one item from the reading list on radicals.
  • Choose one item on the reading list on atheists.
  • I have divided the group in two halves, in preparation for a debate at the end of the seminar on the motion: 'Did pre-modern atheists exist?'.

Pre-modern atheists did exist: Tom, Sophie, Richard, Niamh, Hannah, Alex, and Ella

Pre-modern atheists didn't exist: Rebecca, Sian, Joe S, Joe P, Vaughan, Shelby and Liliane

Week 19 - Seminar postponed

Please note that there will be no seminar this week. This week's topic on'Radicals and Atheists' will be held in Week 10 of this term and we will continue for an extra week in Term 3. Let me know if there is anything you are unclear about.

Week 18 - Prophets and Mystics

This week, we are going to focus on pre-modern prophets, mystics and astrologers, who are both social and religious deviants. We will discuss the following questions:

  • To what extent and in what ways were these groups acceptable to pre-modern society?
  • In what ways and in what circumstances might they be classified as deviant?
  • Assess the significance of gender for the identity of and attitudes toward such individuals?

In preparation for the seminar please:

  • Read one item from the reading list on prophets and mystics.
  • Read one item from the reading list on astrologers.
  • I have assigned you each a propet/mystic/astrologer to research. Come to the seminar prepared to share your findings with the rest of the group:

Joan of Arc: Niamh, Ella and Shelby

Margery Kemp: Alex and Sophie

Michel de Nostradame: Richard and Vaughan

William 'Frantick' Hacket: Joe P, Hannah and Liliane

John Dee: Jim and Joe S(you'll find Bernard Capp's book on astrology useful for this).

Elizabeth Barton: Tom, Sian and Rebecca

For those of you focusing on English examples (Kemp, Dee, Barton, Hacket), you might find the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) a useful resource.

Week 17 - Bandits and Gypsies

Your next short essays will be due Friday Week 7 at 12pm. I hope to return your essays Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of Week 8 (23 February), so make sure to check your emails that weekend and sign-up for feedback.

Where possible, incude a note on the coversheet stating an area from the last essay that you have tried to address in this essay based on the feedback you were given, e.g. 'I have tried to incorporate more primary material'.You should find this a helpful exercise for your personal development.

Please note that these essays are non-assessed so you will be able to answer a question on them either in the exam or for a long-essay.

This week we will be continuing the theme of social deviance and exploring attitudes towards pre-modern bandits and gypsies. We will be discussing the following questions:

  • To what extent were bandits and gypsies accepted in pre-modern society?
  • How and why did popular and elite attitudes to social outcasts differ?
  • Why did attitudes to such groups fluctuate over time?

This week's presentation will be the last of the term and will be by: Richard

In preparation for the seminar please read:

Week 15 - Vagrants and Arsonists

This week we're going to begin to think about different types of social deviance, with a focus on vagrants and arsonists. We will consider these questions:

  • How were beggars viewed and treated by pre-modern society?
  • Why was vagrancy a particular concern for pre-modern society?
  • To what extent were so-called 'dishonourable trades' seen as deviant?
  • Why were those suspected of arson treated so harshly?

This week's presentation will be by: Alex

In preparation, please do the following:

  • Have a look at K. Hignett, 'Co-option or Criminalisation? The State, Border Communities and Crime in Early Modern Europe', Global Crime, 9 (2008), 35-51
  • I have split you into two groups (below), half of you looking at vagrants and the other half arsonists. Choose an item from the reading list on this subject and come prepared to explain your findings to the rest of the group. Please be aware that most of the texts on this week's reading list can only be accessed in hard-copy from the library.

Vagrants: Tom, Niamh, Hannah, Rebecca, Joe S, Ella, Vaughan, Liliane

Arsonists: Sophie, Richard, Sian, Joe P, Jim, Shelby

Week 14 - Monsters and Hermaphrodites

This week we're going to think about the treatment of monsters (both real and imagined) and hermaphrodites in pre-modern society. We shall consider the following questions:

  • How did pre-modern society view 'monsters' and hermaphoridtes?
  • Were these groups more a subject of fascination than of fear?
  • Was their importance more symbolic than real?
  • How did the 'scientific revolution' alter contemporary perceptions of monsters and hermaphrodites?

This week's presentation will be by: Liliane

In preparation for the seminar:

  • Read K. Park and L.J. Daston, ‘Unnatural Conceptions: the Study of Monsters in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century France and England’, Past & Present, 92 (1981), 20-54.
  • Read Ch.2 of David Cressy's Travesties and Trangressions,'on 'Monstrous Births and Credible Reports: Portents, Texts, and Testimonies'. A digital extract is available here. You can also access the wonderful story of Agnes Bowker, a Leicestershire woman, who gave birth to a cat from ch. 1 here.
  • Please choose a reading from this week's further reading list on either monsters or hermpahoridtes. Come to the seminar prepared to explain your findings to the rest of the group.

Week 13 - Prostitutes

This week we shall continue the theme of sexual deviants and will explore the treatment and understanding of prostitutes. We will focus on the following questions:

  • To what extent was prostitution more tolerated than other forms of sexual deviance?
  • Explain the fluctuations in the tolerance of prostitution? How does it vary between countries?
  • How significant was gender in the treatment of prostitution?
  • What does the Rykener trial tell us about pre-modern attitudes to prostitution?

This week's presentation will be by: Rebecca and Sian - Sian has offered to provide a written context to one of this week's primary sources instead of doing the presentation.

In preparation for the seminar please do the following:

  • Read Ruth Karras, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (1998), Introduction and a chapter of your choice.
  • Read another item of your choice from the reading list. Come prepared to explain it to the rest of the group, paying particular attention to geographical specificity (e.g. the treatment of prostitutes in Florence/London/Rome.
  • Read the following primary source: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute (1395).
  • Have a look at William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress (1731). Further information about the plates is available here.
  • Time-permitting, we may have a debate on the perception of prostitutes in our period as: a) immoral - spreaders of vice and diseases; b) exploited - victims of circumstance/used by church, state and men; c) agents - professional 'buisness women', in control of their own fortunes. Have a think about which of these you consider to be the most important.

Week 12 - Sexual Deviants

We're going to spend the next two weeks considering a new type of deviant group: sexual deviants. In our discussion, we will focus on the following questions:

  • Why was there such a divergemce between theory and practice in the treatment of sexual deviance?
  • What types of sexual behaviour were persecuted in pre-modern society?
  • In what circumstances was sexual deviance tolerated?
  • In what ways were pre-modern attitudes to sexual deviance different from our own?

This week's presentation will be by: Ella

In preparation for the seminar please prepare the following:

  • Caroline Bingham, ‘Seventeenth-Century Attitudes Toward Deviant Sex’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 1, No. 3 (1971), 447-68.
  • Choose another article from the general or further reading that is of interest to you. Provide a brief summary of the author's argument along with any comments you have on their choice of method/sources/argument on the group forum and come to the seminar prepared to discuss this with the rest of the group.
  • Read the following primary source from the Old Bailey Online: The Trial of Margaret Clap (1726).

'Mother Clap' is an interesting figure. She was indicted for encouraging what we might term a 'gay' sub-culture to emerge in seventeenth-century London. If you find this of interest, you might like to do some additional research. See especially: Rictor Norton, Mother Clap's Molly House: the Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830 (London, 1992).

There are a number of books and journal articles available through the library catalogue. Nichola Davidson's chapter on 'Theology, Nature and Law' in Renaissance Italy is available as a digital extract.

Week 11 - Werewolves and the Possessed

We’re going to start the term by thinking about werwolves and the those judged to be suffering from demonic possession. We will consider the following questions:

  • How were werewolves and the possessed viewed by pre-modern society?
  • How were werewolves and the possessed treated by the authorities?
  • In what sense were werewolves and possession cases 'real'?

This week's presentation will be by: Sophie

In preparation for the seminar I would like everyone to:

An ideal book review should:

  • start with full bibliographic details of the book discussed;
  • summarise the structure, method and main points of the work;
  • discuss how the author's arguments fit into other writing on the subject;
  • comment on the range of sources used and how they contribute to the argument;
  • explain the strengths and weaknesses of the book from your point of view;
  • assess whether / how the work will advance relevant debates;
  • acknowledge other sources of information in footnotes and a bibliography.

It may be helpful to look at how other people have reviewed relevant books (such as those listed below) in scholarly journals, e.g: European History, Sixteenth Century Journal, History Workshop Journal, English Historical Review.

Week 10 - Witches

This week we will be discussing the attitudes surrounding pre-modern witchcraft and demonology. The questions we will consider are:

  • Was witchcraft the ‘perfect’ deviance?
  • Why did so many different groups believe in witchcraft?
  • To what extent was there a witch-craze?

This week's presentation will be by: Hannah, Shelby and Niamh who are each going to focus on these questions.

In preparation for the seminar, please could you:

  • Choose a text from this week's general reading list.
  • Have a look at the following primary source extracts from the Malleus Maleficarum (key for any essay on witchcraft) and the trial of a witch in Bamberg:

Malleus Maleficarum:

Trial of a witch:

  • We will close the seminar with a debate on the question: 'Can the Witchcraft Phenomenon Still be Interpreted as a ‘Persecution of Women?’ Half of you will be expected to argue for this (e.g. presenting evidence to show that it was a persecution of women) and the other half will be expected to counter this (e.g. that this is not the case). You will need to tailor your reading to your side of the debate (the primary sources I have set might also help support your arguments). At the end, I want you to come to a mutual agreement about which side won the debate and why. I have split you into sides below:

For: Vaughan, Joe P, Niamh, Jim, Sian, Ella , Rebecca, and Shelby
Against: Joe S, Richard, Sophie, Liliane, Hannah, Alex and Tom

There is a fantastic 'In Our Time' podcast on Witchcraft, which covers many of the themes we shall be exploring in the lecture and seminar.

Week 9 - Lepers, Plague-spreaders and the Diseased

The focus of this week is going to be on a different group of deviants: medical marginals. The questions we will consider in the seminar are:

  • What sort of deviant behaviour was associated with, or generated fears about, the spread of disease?
  • To what extent did pre-modern society distinguish between different types of disease, e.g. plague, leprosy, syphilis, and how did that affect their treatment?
  • Were pre-modern attitudes towards the diseased sympathetic?

This week's presentation will be by: Jim and Vaughan

In preparation for the seminar, I would like you to read:

  • At least one text from this week's general reading list.
  • Francois-Olivier Touati chapter on Leprosy (you should be able to access this as a digital extract).
  • Have a look at this website, which contains some primary source documents on early modern plague, disease and public health:
  • I have assigned each of you a text from the further reading to look at. As always, come prepared to explain this to the rest of the group.

Hannah, Shelby and Liliane: Bever, ‘Witchcraft Fears and Psychosocial Factors in Disease’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 30 (2000), 573-90.

Ella and Rebecca: Boehrer, ‘Early Modern Syphilis’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Oct. 1990)

Sophie, Alex and Tom: P.A. Russell, ‘Syphilis: God’s Scourge or Nature’s Vengeance?’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 80 (1989), 286-306

Joe P, Joe S. and Sian: E. Shoham-Steiner, ‘An Ultimate Pariah? Jewish Social Attitudes toward Jewish Lepers in Medieval Western Europe’, Social Research (spring 2003).

Niamh and Richard: D. Gentilcore, ‘The Fear of Disease and the Disease of Fear’, in W.G. Naphy and P. Roberts (eds), Fear in Early Modern Society (Manchester, 1997), pp. 44-61. You might also like M.S.R. Jenner, ‘The Great Dog Massacre’ in the same volume, pp. 184-208.

Week 8 - Muslims

This week we’re continuing the theme of last week’s seminar and considering the experience of another non-Christian group, Muslims. We will explore the following questions in our discussion:

  • How do pre-modern Christian attitudes towards, and treatment of, Muslims compare and contrast with those towards Jews?
  • What threat were Muslims believed to pose to pre-modern society and to whom?
  • Did contact with the Turk improve or worsen relations with or attitudes among Christians?

This week’s presentation will be by: Joe S

In preparation for the seminar please could you all:

  • Read at least one text from this week's ‘General reading’
  • I have assigned you each a text from the further reading list, come prepared to explain this to the rest of the group. In particular, I want you to identify the main purpose of the article, e.g. what it is attempting to do and how it fits with other literature on the subject. I would also like you to comment on the methodology, sources and theoretical underpinnings of the articles and whether you were convinced by it. You will find this a useful exercise for thinking critically about the arguments you are presented with.

You may also find listening to the following 'In Our Time' podcasts:

'Muslim Spain' (45 mins)

'Constantinople Siege and Fall' (45 mins)

If you are unable to access these texts, please choose another item from the further reading list.

  • Niamh, Shelby and Jim: Natalie Zemon Davis, Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds (London, 2007)
  • Alex, Sophie and Hannah: M.E. Perry, The Handless Maiden: Moriscos and the Politics of Religion in Early Modern Spain (Princeton, 2005):
  • Sian, Ella, Vaughn and Joe P: B. Taylor, ‘The Enemy Within and Without: an Anatomy of Fear on the Spanish Mediterranean Littoral’, in W.G. Naphy and P. Roberts (eds), Fear in Early Modern Society (Manchester, 1997), pp. 78-99. A scan is available here.
  • Richard, Tom, Liliane and Rebecca: A. Wunder, ‘Western Travellers, Eastern Antiquities, and the Image of the Turk in Early Modern Europe’, Journal of Early Modern History, 7 (2003), 89-119 (available online)

Week 7 - Jews

The focus of this week’s seminar will shift to religious deviants outside of Christianity, as we explore the treatment of the Jews living in Europe. We will consider specific geographical and chronological factors that affected their treatment and I have assigned each of you a specific region/country to focus upon. The questions we will consider are:

  • What factors determined the treatment of Jews in pre-modern Europe?
  • Why did some communities/societies tolerate Jews and others expel them?
  • Were Jewish/Christian relations characterised more by toleration or by persecution?
  • How much of a threat were pre-modern Jews and to whom?

This week's presentation will be by: Joe

In preparation for the seminar please could everyone else:

  • Read at least one item from the general reading list for this week.
  • Familiarise yourself with the English Old Bailey online court records ( and the Internet Medieval Sourcebook ( Do a search for 'Jews' and/or any other group of deviants and see how they are presented in the testimonies. These are resources we shall be using throughout the year and you may find helpful for your essays. Here are a few examples that we will discuss in the seminar to get you started:

  • Read at least one additional text on the experience of the Jews in the region/country you have been assigned (below). Please post your findings on the group forum in advance of the seminar. Pay particular attention about change over time and the factors underlying specific developments.

The German provinces and/or Poland: Tom, Joe S., Rebecca and Niamh
The Spanish Inquisition: Sian, Richard, Sophie and Hannah
Italy (esp. Venice and Rome): Alex, Ella and Jim
France: Vaughn, Shelby and Liliane

Week 6 - Reading Week

There are no classes this week. Please be aware that I will not be holding my office hours this week, so if you have any questions or queries, I can arrange to meet up with you separately or manage this via email.

Your first non-assessed essay is due Friday Week 7. Please place a hard-copy in my pigeon-hole folder, along with a completed cover sheet and a brief note about any particular area of your essay (or the course more generally) for which you would like me to give feedback. You can choose an essay title either from the 'General' or 'Specific' questions on the module website, or I can discuss an alternative title with you. Please note that these essays are non-assessed so you will be able to answer a question on them either in the exam or for a long-essay.

Week 5 - Heretics

This week we're going to be thinking about the treatment of heretical groups, focusing on the following questions:

  • Why does heresy appear to be an increasing problem from the eleventh century?
  • How was heresy defined and identified?
  • What threat did heretics pose in pre-modern Europe and to whom?
  • How harshly were heretics treated?

This week's presentation will be by: Tom

For everyone else, please do the following:

  • I have divided you into groups below and would like each of you to read one additional text on the group of heretics you have been assigned. Please post your findings on the group forum in advance of the seminar. Some useful texts have been provided on this week's reading list, but please let me know if you need any further recommendations (especially those of you looking at the Cathars).
  • Read one item from the general reading for this week.

Waldensians: Joe S, Joe P, Ella and Liliane
Lollards: Sophie, Niamh, Richard, Jim and Alex
Cathars: Hannah, Rebecca, Sian, Vaughn and Shelby

There are some good ‘In Our Time’ podcasts on ‘Catharism' (45 mins) and ‘Wyclif and the Lollards' (45 mins).

Week 4 - Chronologies of Deviance

The main purpose of our discussion this week will be to make our period, which is broad, feel a little bit more familiar and a great deal less threatening! The seminar is designed to give you a better understanding about how we understand pre-modern society. This will be achieved by considering how specific events (and others like them) affected the treatment of deviants. I’ve divided you into small groups and I want each of you to do some research into the period I have set you, focusing on some of the key social/political/economic developments taking place.

In preparation:

Read one text relevant to your period on the general reading list and also find some of the key events taking place during your period (you might find the Chronology provided on the module website helpful) and contextualise them with further research (without using Wikipedia). During this process, think about how these changes may have affected the treatment of specific groups of deviants. I'm happy to offer advice on reading and events if needed.

Medieval (c.500-1500): Joe P, Joe S, Shelby, Tom, Rebecca, Vaughan and Alex

Some ideas to get you started: the Crusades, the Great Famine, Papcy of Pope Inoocent III and the Black Death

Early Modern (c.1500-1800): Sophie, Niamh, Richard, Hannah, Sian, Ella and Liliane

Here are some ideas: the Reformation, the Council of Trent, the Thirty Years' War, English Civil Wars

NB To follow-up on some of the points raised in the Persecuting Societies seminar (about Moore's thesis and pre-modern literacy) I have provided you with some further details on the Group Forum.

Week 3 - Persecuting Societies

This week we will be thinking in more detail about prejudice and the motivations behind persecution. We will consider the utility of Moore’s thesis for understanding the treatment of religious minorities and consider the following questions:

  • Do you think that prejudice is innate or learned/socially conditioned?
  • (Why) Do societies need to define ‘outside’ or ‘marginal’ groups?
  • What determines the level of persecution to which such groups are subjected?
  • How useful is Moore's thesis for understanding the treatment of religious minorities over time? How do these compare with Nirenberg's views on the position of medieval minorities ?

In preparation, please:

  • Read R. I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society (2nd edn, 2007), especially Chapter 1 (an e-copy is available through the library).
  • Read David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence (1996) (an e-copy is availble through the library).
  • Read Alexandra Walsham, Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700 (Manchester, 2006). A scanned copy of the Introduction is available to access here.

Week 2 - Defining Deviance

This week we will be thinking in more detail about how we define deviance and deviant behaviour. We will consider the following questions:

  • Dictionary definitions aside, how would you define deviance?
  • Is deviance in the eye of the beholder?
  • Do individuals or groups choose to be deviant?

In preparation, please :

  • Have a look at Jack P. Gibbs' chapter 'Conceptions of Deviant Behavior: The Old and the New', in Lefton, Skipper and McCaghy (eds.), Approaches to Deviance: Theories, Concepts, and Research Findings (New York, 1968), pp. 44-55. A scanned copy is available to access here.
  • Have a look at at least one other item from the General Reading List and post a brief summary of the key points you have taken from the argument in advance of the seminar on the Group Forum.

I will be allocating presentations this week (to begin Week 4), so remember to have a look through the module timetable and choose a topic that interests you.

Week 1 - Introductory Seminar

(30 September)

No preparation is required for our introductory seminar, which will be approx 20 minutes. Have a look through the module pages and reading lists and let me know if you have any questions about the course. You might find it useful to start looking at some of the reading on the 'General Reading' list.