University of Notre Dame

Microhistories: Rogues, Outcasts, Lovers, and Adventurers

Course Number: HIST 13184-9
Instructor: Alexander M. Martin

To understand the vast forces that have created our world, some historians turn to “microhistory,” the study of people who at first glance seem “average” but whose lives were in fact anything but average. Europe since the Renaissance is rich in such stories, such as the peasant woman who accepted an imposter as her long-lost husband, or the introspective executioner who kept a journal of his beheadings. In this course, we will read microhistories of Europeans from the 16th to the 19th century and ask ourselves: what do they reveal about the human condition and the art of the historian, and what insight do they give into the larger dynamics that have shaped the past, that is, History with a capital H?