The Ranums' Panat Times
This syllabus was used for my course entitled
Topics in the Cultural History of Early Modern France
Professor Ranum History 100.320
What does the phrase longue durée mean? Is your response: "I am not supposed to have to know French to take this course"? If so, consider yourself very probably lost forever to the study of cultural history! Not that the phrase longue durée is a key to unlocking cultural- historical secrets. No, indeed.
One does not, I repeat not, have to know French to take this course. Longue durée is, however, a phrase that is not easily translatedlong duration does the job on only one level of meaningbut there is more to it than one level. Among historians, and Fernand Braudel in particular, long duration took on special meaning. Something like a concept, but not quite, and something like a chronological term, long duration came to be used to describe many, many historical features that may scarcely change for centuries. The wearing of black for certain types of mourning may be considered an example. Mourning is certainly a fact of life that has cultural ramifications, yet it cannot be studied easily within the usual chronological or thematic categoriessay the 17th century or the Age of Louis XIV.
Your openness to research and reflection of the meanings of words is what is at stake, not whether or not you know what longue durée means. Every word used in this course will be open to collective scrutiny. We must work together to work out what we are talking about. Cultural history rests on the study of language, as does history in general, but in cultural history the themes, the concepts, and even the "subject" must be carefully scrutinized in order to avoid a collapse into "theory" or worse, antiquarianism.
There will be two written assignments in this course. The first is propadeutic. We must find out if your skills of analysis and writing are up to par. Answer one question, in three pages. Discern and characterize the "private" and "communitarian" aspects of religious belief and practice in the life of the Guerre family. Take N.Z. Davis's, The Return of Martin Guerre for your only source.
The second assignment will be from eight to ten pages on some theme that joins the reading of Montaigne's Travel Journals to another reading of your choice. There will also be a final exam in the course.
I. The French Language as a Historical Subject and Cultural Criticism
II. Warrior Culture
III. Peasant Families and Cultures
IV. Masculinity and Femininity in Culture
V. Urban Artisanal Culture
VI. Elite Urban Society and Culture
VII. Marriage, the "Other" and Family Alliances
VIII. The State as a Culture, Utopian and Coercive
IX. The Cultures of Reading and Writing
X. The Culture of Taste
XI. Intimacy and Friendship: Social and Spatial Traces
XII. Culture in Revolt
XIII. Dying as a Cultural Phenomenon
XIV. Clothing and Culture