Gender, Society and Culture in Early Modern Europe (HISM036)

StaffDr Laura Sangha - Lecturer
Dr Hester Schadee - Lecturer
Dr Sarah Toulalan - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to evaluate the nature, extent and importance of gender difference to society and culture in early modern Europe through the exploration of a wide range of subjects that may include: theoretical perspectives on gender and history; contemporary theory about the nature and roles of men and women in early modern society; marriage and the family; the household, work and economic lives; bodies, health, medicine and sexuality; masculinity and patriarchy; the law; religion and witchcraft; class, power, government and politics.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Locate and evaluate critically the relevant primary and secondary source materials required to investigate a specific historical or methodological question.
  • 2. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of key themes and approaches in the study of gender, society and culture in early modern Europe.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 4. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates.
  • 6. Research for themselves and present independent accounts and interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop the capacity for independent critical study and thought.
  • 8. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of on-line finding aids).
  • 9. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 10. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).

Syllabus plan

This will be a team-taught module and the syllabus will vary according to the composition of the module team and student choice. The module will examine topics such as:


(a) Gender: history and theory, practical approaches.

(b) Witchcraft; religion; urban development; education and social relations; medicine.

(c) Masculinity; crime; government and politics; power and patriarchy; class and social hierarchies.

(d) Marriage and the family; reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth; sexuality; parents and children; health and medicine.

(e) Religion: (1) Reformation Europe (2) parish life (3) the holy household.

(f)  Education; reading and writing/print culture; court culture; ‘the arts’/drama and the stage.

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 Activities2211 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study278Preparation for seminars, essays and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing1-10Oral through discussion with peers and tutor

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
Essay674000 words1-10Oral and written
Individual Presentation3320 minutes and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Oral and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/deferral period
PresentationScript as for 20 minute presentation and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of one 4,000 word essay, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script and accompanying visual aids that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech. Instead of reflecting on the delivery of the presentation and its reception, as in the original assessment, the reflective commentary will explore the objectives and intended delivery methods of the presentation.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Susan Amussen, An Ordered Society: Gender and Class in Early Modern England, (New York, 1988).

Patricia Crawford and Sara Mendelson, Women in Early Modern England, (Oxford, 1998).

Natalie Zemon Davis and Arlette Farge (eds), A History of Women: Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, (Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1993).

Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (1993)

Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex and Subordination in Early Modern England (New Haven and London, 1995).

Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (eds), Premodern Sexualities, (New York and London, 1996)

Beatrice Gottlieb, The Family in the Western World From the Black Death to the Industrial Age, (Oxford, 1993).

Robert Allan Houston, Literacy in Early Modern Europe: culture and education 1500-1800 (Harlow, 2002)

Olwen Hufton, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, Vol 1, 1500-1800, (London,1995).

Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between East and West (2000)

F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons (eds), Patronage, art, and society in Renaissance Italy (1987)

James J. Murphy, Latin Rhetoric and Education in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Aldershot, 2005)

Rowlands, Alison (ed.), Witchcraft and Masculinities in Early Modern Europe, (Basingstoke,2009).

Alexandra Shepard, Meanings of Manhood in Early modern England (Oxford, 2000).

Robert Shoemaker, Gender in English Society 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres? (London, 1998).

M.R. Sommerville, Sex and Subjection: Attitudes to Women in Early Modern Society (London, 1995).

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2008).

Arzu Öztürkmen and Evelyn Birge Vitz (eds), Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean (Turnhout, 2014)

Dieuwke van der Poel, Louis Peter Grijp and Wim van Anrooij (eds), Identity, Intertextuality, and Performance in Early Modern Song Culture (Leiden, 2016)

Ulinka Rublack, Reformation Europe (Cambridge, 2005)

Alec Ryrie, Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (Oxford, 2013)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Burney Collection of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Newspapers Other resources: Any other primary source material as provided.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Gender, culture, society, women, masculinity, manhood.