Early Modern History and Methodology of Historical Research (2015/2016)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Giovanni Ciappelli, Marco Bellabarba
Giovanni Ciappelli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre sede Trento dal Feb 15, 2016 al May 31, 2016.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

First Part (Methodology of Historical Research): Prof. Giovanni Ciappelli
The course aims to provide, through the reading and interpretation of a significant series of texts, a critical approach to the sources which are necessary for the historian's work.

Second part: (Storia moderna) prof. Marco Bellabarba

The course will mostly be based on the presentation and critical discussion of a recently much-discussed subject: the collapse (or the end) of the political regimes.


Prerequisites: Broad knowledge of early modern history (16th-19th centuries). Students will be expected to raise some questions about the reading, to stimulate discussion, and to sustain the discussion throughout the class period.

First part (prof. Ciappelli)
"Use and interpretation of sources: the letter from the Middle Ages to the 20th century".
The course will deal with the letter as a means of expression and communication of different contents at different times: political communication and information in general (diplomatic, commercial, private letters), expression of feelings of friendship and affection; narration of one's own thoughts and actions to the other, which also includes aspects of the self. The letter is one of the most common documents available to the historian in all ages, and has recently become part of the larger category of egodocuments (writings of various kinds in which an individual tells about himself), which is increasingly attracting the historians' attention. In any case, it corresponds to a literary genre, with specific rules, which may vary from period to period, and requires nuanced interpretations that must take into account the context, the nature and purpose of sender and recipient, and the writing style of the time. Public and private correspondences will be presented from the 14th to the 20th century, trying to capture recurring elements and evolutionary traits and to put them in relation with the possible uses by the historian.

Second Part (prof. Bellabarba).

In a recent and very famous book (Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed) Jared Diamond studies the causes of historical and pre-historical instances of societal collapse. Diamond also argues that humanity collectively faces many of the same issues, with possibly catastrophic near-future consequences to many of the world's populations. The course will be devoted to the study of the crisis which caused the collapse of the great european multinational empires).

First part (prof. Ciappelli)
The following list is just an indication. The full list of texts will be given by the professor during the course. Non-attending students must in any case contact the professor to ask for the exam program.
A. Petrucci, Scrivere lettere. Una storia plurimillenaria, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2008;
Per lettera. La scrittura epistolare femminile tra archivio e tipografia, secoli XV-XVII, Roma, Viella, 1999;
Dolce dono graditissimo. La lettera privata dal Settecento al Novecento, a cura di M.L. Betri e D. Maldini Chiarito, Milano, Angeli, rist. 2003.

Second part (prof. Bellabarba)

Attending students.
Jared Diamond, Collasso. Come le società scelgono di vivere o di morire, Torino, Einaudi 2005.
P. Macry, Gli ultimi giorni. Stati che crollano nell'Europa del Novecento, Bologna, il Mulino 2009.
Further readings will be given during the course to the attending-students.
Non attending students are expected to contact the professor.

Teaching methods: Lectures; seminar when possible.

Assessment methods and criteria

Forms of the exam

First part: final paper and oral exam.

Second part: final paper and oral exam.