Early Modern History and Methodology of Historical Research (2016/2017)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Giovanni Ciappelli, Marco Bellabarba
Giovanni Ciappelli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II sem Trento dal Feb 13, 2017 al May 31, 2017.

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 price of the peace: the First world war peace settlements (1919-1924.

The aims of the course are twofold: First,it aims to provide an analysis of the transformed political map of Europe after the Great War; Second, it aims to reconstruct the political, ideological, socio-economic premises that shaped the treaties content and their legacy.

Specific skills:

Broad knowledge of early modern history (18th-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.
Work critically with a broad range of sources and relate them to the historiographical debates; assess the primary sources and the literature in relation to an historical problem.
Present work orally and prepare questions to ask other attending students.


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.

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)

The Russian revolution and the collapse of the tsarist regime (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk).
The "spring offenseive" (March 1918) and the armistices with the Central Powers.
The Dissolution of the Austrian Monarchy and the German revolution.
The peace talks and their protagonists: from the "Council of Ten" , to the "Big Four" and the "Big Three"
The "War-guilt question".
Political and moral values: the "front-generation" mentality.
The fourteen points of Wilson: dissensions and divisions between the Allies.
Empires, nations and colonies: the principle of self-determination of nations.
Behind the scenes; historians at work (British diplomacy and the new boundaries of Eastern Europe).

Attending students.

E. Goldstein, Gli accordi di pace dopo la Grande Guerra: 1919-1925, Bologna, il Mulino 2005.

Further readings will be given during the course to the attending-students.

Non-attending students are expected to contact the professor in order to choose the texts of the exam.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Giovanni Ciappelli Carnevale e Quaresima. Comportamenti sociali e cultura a Firenze nel Rinascimento (Edizione 1) Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura 1997 88-900138-7-7
Peter Burke Cultura popolare nell'Europa moderna (Edizione 1) Mondadori 1980 pp. 1-86; 177-236.
Nathalie Zemon Davis Le culture del popolo. Saperi, rituali e resistenze nella Francia del Cinquecento (Edizione 1) Einaudi 1980 Capitolo: "Le ragioni del Malgoverno", pp. 130-174.
Peter Burke Scene di vita quotidiana nell'Italia moderna (Edizione 1) Laterza 1988 Il capitolo: "Il carnevale di Venezia"

Assessment methods and criteria

Forms of the exam

First part: final paper and oral exam.

Second part: final paper and oral presentation