82419 - Politics and Historiography of the Modern Age (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module, the student can move from knowledge of events to reflection on historical facts, through both 1) the conceptions and views of contemporaries in the course of time and 2) of the current different interpretations of those events, Historical facts and conceptions.

Course contents

The course will be divided into three parts.
The first part will provide an overview of the forms of historical writing, focusing in particular on their relationship to political power from the 15th to the 18th century, and on these specific topics:
1. The medieval and humanistic heritage: classical models, religious history and chronicles;
2. The challenge of forgery and the invention of genealogies;
3. Religious controversy and historical writing after the Reformation;
4. Making world histories;
5. Nations: from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century;
6. The eighteenth-century historiography.
In the second part, an overview of the historiography of the early modern age, from the Romantic era to the present day, will be outlined, focusing in particular on these themes:
1. The idea of modernity and civilisation from the Enlightenment to Max Weber;
2. The Renaissance, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the Crisis of European Consciousness, Capitalism and the Modern State: some major issues.
3. The turning point of the 'Annales' and social history;
4. The second half of the 20th century: the early modern age and the new historiography;
5. The 2000s: the emergence of new themes and the global perspective.
6. The historiography of the early modern age today.
In the third part we will analyse a classic of historiography on the early modern age, in particular: Lucien Febvre, The Problem of Unbelief in the 16th Century (Le problème de l'incroyance au XVIe siècle. La religion de Rabelais, 1942).


All students, attending and non-attending, should prepare for the examination by reading the following texts:

Gian Paolo Romagnani, Storia della storiografia, Roma, Carocci, 2019

Roberto Bizzocchi, Guida allo studio della storia moderna, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005

They will also have to study one of the following texts:

Marco Meriggi, Laura Di Fiore, World History. Le nuove rotte della storia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2011;

Roberto Bizzocchi, Genealogie incredibili. Scritti di storia dell’Europa moderna, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1995

Giuseppe Marcocci, Indios, cinesi, falsari. Le storie del mondo nel Rinascimento, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2016

Francesca Trivellato, Microstoria e storia globale, Roma, Officina Libraria, 2023 

Peter Burke, Una rivoluzione storiografica. La scuola delle "Annales", Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2002

Hayden White, Forme di storia. Dalla realtà alla narrazione, a cura di E. Tortarolo, Roma, Carocci, 2006

Paolo Prodi, Introduzione allo studio della storia moderna, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999

Daniel Rosenberg e Anthony Grafton, Cartografie del tempo. Una storia della linea del tempo, Torino, Einaudi, 2012

Non-attending students should add the following text to their reading:

Francesco Benigno, Parole nel tempo. Un lessico per pensare la storia, Roma, Viella, 2013.

Teaching methods

The teacher will use texts and images to get the students able to reading the sources and to understanding the representations in history. Any teaching materials will be made available online in the appropriate section of the University's website

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending. The oral examination will take place in the exam sessions provided at the end of the course.To evaluate the exam, the teacher will take into account the student's ability to master the contents of the course, to understand the historical concepts, to orientate himself in the bibliography, to know how to read a source, to connect the informations acquired, to expose what he has learned in a synthetic way and with an appropriate language. The student who will meet these demands will have an excellent mark. The student who will simply repeat the informations acquired in a mnemonic way and with a language not entirely adequate will have a discreet evaluation. The student who will show that he knows the contents superficially and with some gaps, using an inappropriate language, will have a sufficient evaluation. The student unprepared and incapable of orientation in the subject will have a negative evaluation.

Instead of studying the texts adopted for the exam, attending students can choose to write a paper (max 5,000 words) on a great historian and a classic text of 20th century historiography, agreeing the choice with the teacher The evaluation of the essay will depend on its originality and its critical depth.

The present course is a part of the Integrated Course 'History of the Early Modern Age C.I. (LM)'. If the student has the Integrated Course (12CFU) in his / her study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two components (History of Europe in the Early Modern Age; Politics and Historiography of the Early Modern Age).

Teaching tools

Attendance of the course may also include participation in seminars promoted by the teacher and visits to archives and libraries to contact the sources on the subject kept in the city of Bologna and its surroundings. The Internet will be used to access sites that contain manuscript sources, images, texts and materials of interest.

Office hours

See the website of Vincenzo Lavenia


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.