Deviants and Dissenters in Early Modern England (HIH2186A)

30 credits

How societies define and create deviants and dissenters can tell us a great deal about those societies: what they value and seek to promote and encourage is inevitably also revealed through what they seek to discourage or stamp out. This module explores who were the people, and groups of people, who deviated in some way from the ‘norms’ of early modern society, or who disagreed with its political, religious, legal, economic, and medical institutions and tenets, and why. It will further examine what it meant to be defined or categorized in this way. What kinds of ideas and beliefs might place a person or people on the margins of early modern English society and culture? What were the consequences of espousing such ideas or beliefs, or of acting on them? But deviance could also be experienced through the body: what bodily appearances, practices and behaviours might similarly place you on the margins of early modern society? These are the kinds of questions you will explore in this module, using a wide range of primary sources, which will provide a foundation for thinking about those you might examine in your dissertation research next year. You will also have the opportunity to develop your debating skills, and to synthesise and substantiate arguments as you build your own ideas about these often contested areas of historical study.