7231.11 - European History of Culture I. The Nordic Period to the Enlightenment

Course number
European History of Culture I. The Nordic Period to the Enlightenment
Students will gain knowledge of and insight into literature, art, architecture, music, history, church history, philosophy and science in the period between approximately AD 1000 and AD 1800.
By working with texts, images and music, students will gain insight into the importance literature and art have had as both bearers and harbinger of human experience in the period between about AD 1000 to AD 1800. This period covers the period just prior to the Christianisation of the Nordic countries to the Enlightenment and its confrontation with Europe’s historical traditions and religious past. During this period, societies go through significant changes. Literature and art change likewise because the conditions for human existence change – from being formed by an absolute and divinely sanctioned structure to being increasingly predicated upon individualised modes of living based on humanly constructed value systems. The Renaissance and Baroque periods are pivots in this development, and the Enlightenment, setting rational thought at the centre, constitutes a decisive showdown with given value systems, traditions and religion. In ancient Nordic societies and in the early Middle Ages, the individual is defined socially, culturally and spiritually by his relation to his or her ancestors and religion. These ties begin to loosen in the Late Middle Ages and especially in the Renaissance with its rallying cry ,“a person is created to create him- or herself.” This does not mean that the ties with the extended family or the clan were severed in the Baroque period but that the despotism of the governing structures is slowly giving way to the individual. The Enlightenment, about 1690-1790, was a period in European cultural history characterised by the idea that enlightenment and rationality were necessary tools in overcoming old traditions, religious intolerance and habitual thinking. Enlightenment, understood both as a search for new knowledge and as the dissemination of knowledge, was seen as the deciding condition for the liberation of humanity and for a worthwhile life. The idea of human rights was therefore part of the trends flourishing during this era. The Enlightenment is commonly seen as beginning in 1690 with the publication of John Locke’s ”An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” The disciplinary goal of this course is for students to gain knowledge of the interplay between literature, history, society, culture and religion. Therefore, the selected texts focus on the history of literature, art, religion and ideas. Students will become aware of both what characterises the particular ages and how these are related to earlier and later trends and trajectories. It is also very important that students see that literature and art cannot be seen as independent of historical, political and economical factors. We will, therefore, focus both on ages and epochs in our reading. Discussing particular ages shows what common characteristic literature and art of a particular age have, while considering the epochs shows how literature and art are on the move and create something new. We will focus primarily on high literature but will also study non-fiction, art, music and film in order to gain a broad perspective.
Assessment method
Students will write one paper for the course. In addition, students will sit a major exam that covers this course and 7232.11 European History of Culture II. Internal examiners will be used. In order to pass the course, students need to pass both the paper and the exam. Grades will be based on the exam and will be awarded according to the current grading scale.
Marking scale