People's History I: Everyday Life (HIC1600)

StaffDr Nicola Whyte - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the theories and methodologies of studying everyday life in the past. While People’s History 2 is interested in social groups and the conflictual, at other times cooperative, relationships which shaped history ‘from below’, this module is concerned with the hidden, often unnoticed everyday lives of ordinary people. Students will engage with complex and contentious debates on the value of adopting an approach concerned with the mundane, routine and contingent. How do historians go about recovering the material and mental worlds of people living in the past? What do studies of everyday life reveal about the nature of social and cultural change? In what ways do memory studies inform and question conventional historical narratives? What contribution have material culture studies made to our understanding of historical themes and processes? What can we learn from changing patterns of consumption, such as food, dress, agricultural tools, household goods? What lessons does the past hold for contemporary issues such as self-sufficiency and local sustainability? Students will have an opportunity to consider the issues and challenges of recovering the lives and experiences of ordinary men and women from a variety of perspectives, reflecting the research interests of the academics involved in delivering the module. As a whole, the module provides the essential practical skills involved in studying history. Independent research, team work, written and oral presentation and critical thinking will be central to the way the module is taught.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Assess the changing nature of everyday life over time
  • 2. With guidance, evaluate the ways in which historians have studied the history of individuals and groups
  • 3. Show how specific cases can be used to reflect on historical generalisations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Deploy the basic rules of historical enquiry
  • 5. Compare and contrast different historical approaches
  • 6. With guidance, indicate how people have lived, acted and thought in a range of contexts at different times and in different locations
  • 7. Indicate some of the complexities of historical change at local and sub-national scales

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. With guidance, select and digest academic literature relevant to the topic under study
  • 9. Organize material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument
  • 10. Communicate ideas orally and respond to the arguments of others in an appropriate manner

Syllabus plan

The syllabus plan should not be provided on a week-by-week basis unless the delivery pattern can be guaranteed

 Following an Introductory lecture outlining the theory and practice of studying the history of everyday life, the module will cover a variety of topics including some of the following: writing the self, diaries and personal experience; mentalities and beliefs; everyday working and domestic lives; public and private spheres; senses of time and cultural memory; material culture and patterns of consumption; everyday lives, technological change and modernity; discarded objects, rubbish and waste.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 11Lectures: these provide the main outline of the module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 11Seminars: these provide opportunity for student-led discussion of the module themes and group work
Guided independent study 128Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentations20 minutes1-10verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1001500words1-6, 8-9Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1,500wEssay 1,500 words1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

John Brewer, ‘Microhistory and the histories of everyday life’ Cultural and Social History 7:1 (2010)

Peter Burke, ‘Strengths and weaknesses of the history of mentalities’ History of European Ideas 7:5, 439-451 (1996)

Pat Hudson, ‘Closeness and Distance’ Cultural and Social History 7:3 (2010)

Alf, Lüdtke, (1991) ‘Introduction: What is the history of everyday life and who are its practitioners?’ in ed. A. Lüdtke and trans.

William Templer, The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life (Princeton University Press, 1991)

Joe Moran, ‘History, Memory and the everyday’, Rethinking History  8:1 (2004)

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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