Instructor: Jakub Rákosník
Exploration of the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Western Europe during an intense and exciting period of transition from a medieval to a modern world. Topics to be discussed include Renaissance art and philosophy; the printing revolution and the French Revolution; climate change and economic dislocation; witch craze; religious reforms and religious wars; commercialization; navigation; empire; slavery; the new science; and new ideas about democracy, equality, and modernity.
Students should develop their abilities to grasp complex social phenomena as path dependent. They should be able to understand historical preconditions of contemporary national as well as regional (European) issues, especially to reflect historical and situational determination of the current imagination of the „normal“ economic system, natural laws, pluralist democratic system etc. In the course the students are to be acquainted with the specificity of historiography as a discipline of humanities. The students will critically assess influential writings and academic controversies about the topics under scrutiny in order to develop the sensitivity for different approaches, questions, and perspectives. Embedding alternative interpretations both in historiographical and political context they will learn to consider both the historian and the “user” of history as a part of history. They will become aware of the distinction between facts and interpretation. Through the analysis of concrete cases, the students acquire experience with historiographical working methods, evaluation, and interpretation of primary sources. They will learn to distinguish between motivation and legitimization of the individual behavior and to avoid the risk of thinking in patterns.