The course will focus on the history of the groups that lived on the margins of European society during the late medieval and the early modern period, including the poor, vagrants, criminals, and other outcasts. Attention will also be given to the attitude of established society toward these groups; to the latter’s representations in contemporary art and literature; to the attempts of the authorities to handle manifestations of poverty, crime, and social deviance; and to the question if – and to what extent – one can speak of a subculture or counterculture of crime and poverty in early modern Europe. The primary material, examples, and case studies will be taken from the history of England and Germany.
The course seeks to introduce the students to the historical field of poverty and crime in late medieval and early modern Europe, and to help them develop reading and working skills both with primary sources and with research literature in this field.
On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Explain and asses the research methods and perspectives available for the historical study of crime and poverty in general, and with regard to the early modern period in particular
- Describe the theological and pragmatic motivations underlying late medieval and early modern poor relief
- Assess the importance of gender as an analytical category for the historical study of poverty and crime
- Explain the unique context and characteristics of early modern Jewish criminality and the way it was perceived by the non-Jewish population
- Describe the various representations of poverty and crime in early modern high culture and popular culture, and assess their social and cultural role and significance
- Analyze historical documents
- Discuss items of research literature