Early Modern Studies Program
Location: University of King’s College
6350 Coburg Road
Arts and Administration Building
Halifax, NS
B3H 2A1
Telephone: (902) 422-1271
Fax: (902) 423-3357
Website: http://www.ukings.ca/early-modern-studies-programme
Email: admissions@ukings.ca

Introduction

What is the basis of our modern conceptions of the self, nature, society, freedom, and art? What ideas provoked historical turning points such as the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution? These questions, as well as those surrounding atheism, witchcraft, maritime piracy, cross-cultural encounters, the fine arts, vampirism, and more were set in motion in the early modern period. Thinkers and artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, Goethe, and Wollstonecraft sparked the conversations we are still having centuries later.

The Early Modern Studies Program (EMSP) explores the origins of modernity through a study of its development in European culture from the 16th to early 19th centuries. We take an interdisciplinary look at an era that begins with the colonization of “new worlds”, and ends with revolutions which made the modern world. By examining philosophical, scientific, moral, social, political, and aesthetic points of view, we gain insight into a time of spectacular upheaval, and understand the revolutionary basis for aspects of society that seem fundamental to contemporary life. 

EMSP courses are designed so that important figures and developments may be considered on their own terms and in relation to other important aspects of the period. This will often involve consideration of the differences between the early modern and other historical periods of the west. Emphasis will be placed upon encounters between European and non-European peoples and cultures in the early modern period. Our three “core” classes (mandatory for the Combined Honours degree) cover the key ideas, figures, and developments in early modern culture. Our electives branch out to explore a wide range of topics and questions. Many of these courses pursue in greater depth questions introduced in the core classes.

Aside from preparing undergraduates for more specialized training at the graduate or professional level, the EMSP is intended to provide them with a broad overview of the early modern period. Students are encouraged to relate the various aspects of early modern thought and culture to one another and to develop independent insights into the nature of this historical period. It is also hoped that EMSP students will take an active role in organizing events each year, including lectures, debates, and exhibitions.