Early Modern History I - LM (Historical Anthropology) [Sede VR] (2014/2015)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Federico Barbierato
Federico Barbierato
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
semestrino IA, Semestrino IB

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

Educational objectives
To acquire awareness of the difference between societies and cultures chronologically or geographically distant from one another; to familiarize with research tools which history has developed in conjunction with social theory; to develop strategies for the interpretation of relevant and diverse sources; to appraise the tradition of study in this field and discuss its problems.


The course will concern the early modern religious life experience, particularly in the forms authorities regarded as transgressive. Witchcraft, its prosecution, and the varieties of belief in the supernatural will receive special attention.
The first part of the course will offer a survey of the basic concepts in historical anthropology with particular reference to the early modern period. The second part of the course will be entirely structured as a seminar. We will examine various sources (from archives, bibliograpy and/or iconography) that will be analyzed and discussed in the lecture room. This format will require an active participation of students, which will form a key element of the final assessment of their work.
Attendance is therefore recommended only if it can be continuous and active.

Reference books:

For those students who will be attending lessons the exam bibliography will be given during the course; P.P. Viazzo, Introduzione all’antropologia storica, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2000 will be required reading.
Those who will not be attending will read P.P. Viazzo’s volume and three of the following books, or groups of books, of their choice:

- G. Ferigo, Morbida facta pecus. Scritti di antropologia storica della Carnia, Forum, Udine, 2012
- J.H. Hajes, Posseduti ed esorcisti nel mondo ebraico, Bollati Boringhieri, Milano, 2010;
- J.H. Arnold, Belief and Unbelief in Medieval Europe, Bloomsbury, London, 2010;
- E.E. Evans Pritchard, Stregoneria, oracoli e magia tra gli Azande, Raffaello Cortina, Milano, 2002;
- M. Douglas, Purezza e pericolo. Un’analisi dei concetti di contaminazione e tabù, il Mulino, Bologna, 2003;
- P. Brown, La società e il sacro nella tarda antichità, Einaudi, Torino, 1988;
- G. Delille, L'economia di Dio. Famiglia e mercato tra cristianesimo, ebraismo, Islam, Salerno libri, Roma, 2013
- C. Zika, The Appearance of Witchcraft. Print and Visual Culture in Sixteenth-Century Europe, Routledge, London, 2007
- G. Levi, L’eredità immateriale. La carriera di un esorcista nel Piemonte del Seicento, Einaudi, Torino, 1985;
- C. Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality. An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe, Zone Books, New York, 2011
- E.P. Thompson, Società patrizia, cultura plebea. Otto saggi di antropologia storica sull'Inghilterra del Settecento, Einaudi, Torino, 1981;
- J. Cole, E. Wolf, La frontiera nascosta, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, Roma, 1994;
- J. Goody, L’addomesticamento del pensiero selvaggio, FrancoAngeli, Milano 1990 – to be read together with D.F. McKenzie, La sociologia di un testo. Oralità, alfabetismo e stampa all'inizio del XIX secolo, in Id., Il passato è il prologo, edizioni Sylvestre Bonnard, Milano 2002, pp. 43-91;
- M. Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism, & Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2007
- F. Loetz, Dealings with God. From blasphemers in early modern Zurich to a cultural history of religiousness, Ashgate, Farnham, 2009;
- D.W. Sabean, Property, production and family in Neckarhausen, 1700-1870, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990;
- K. Crawford, European Sexualities. 1400-1800, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007.

Assessment methods and criteria

Exam methods
For those students who will be attending lessons: essay on a previously agreed topic, followed by oral interview.
For those who will not be attending: oral interview.