Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST21C1: Early Modern Hospitality in Global Comparative Perspective

Department: History

HIST21C1: Early Modern Hospitality in Global Comparative Perspective

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 1 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to a wide array of cultural practices associated with hospitality in the early modern period, and the ways in which different societies lived and understood these practices.
  • To offer students strategies for comparing disparate societies in a way that can shed useful insights on cultural phenomena.
  • To engage critically with historiographical works about early modern hospitality and how a global perspective can contribute to the historiographical debates surrounding this topic.
  • To contribute towards the Department's generic aims for study at Level 2.


  • Hospitality is a key cultural concept and practice in most early modern societies. Foreigners and travellers were separated from their neighbourhoods, their usual networks of friendship and their ordinary sources of support. Travellers thus depended on established modes of hospitality to survive. Yet the historiography on European hospitality in the early modern period has traditionally portrayed the strength of the practice and the importance of the concept as declining over the early modern period. In this module we will challenge this traditional historical narrative by confronting European evolutions with experiences in other early modern societies. Over the course of the module, we will be thinking among other things about pilgrimage, instances of forced hospitality, the impact of war and civil war on hospitality, institutionalised forms of hospitality, the relationship between charity and hospitality, the politics of hospitality, sociability between friends, and the rise of commercial hospitality. In exploring all these strands together, the module will encourage reflection on the ways in which early modern people viewed and understood the 'other', and the obligations they felt to those beyond their immediate community.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of how the cultural concept and practice of hospitality intersects with religion, the state and the economy.
  • An understanding that hospitality has fulfilled myriad functions across societies, but also that there is much that is shared across cultures both in the conception and practice of hospitality.
  • A knowledge of key modern works on these issues and an ability to evaluate these critically.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to identify and to critique conflicting historical interpretations
  • Deepening and extending historical understanding through focused, concentrated modules
  • Developing precision, depth of understanding, and conceptual awareness
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, material, aural, visual, audio-visual etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments
  • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student teaching is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • Lectures: Lectures will set the foundation for further study and provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. Importantly, within the context of this specific module, lectures will provide an exploration of case studies of aspects of hospitality within different societies, which will serve as the basis for comparison and discussion within the context of the weekly seminars. Lectures also encourage the development of crucial listening skills, selective note taking and reflection.
  • Seminars: Seminars will allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. In seminars, students will be invited to ponder the usefulness of comparisons to the historical endeavour, and how best to formulate constructive comparisons. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, all while recognising the value of working with others.
  • Assessment:
  • Essay/Assignment: Summative coursework will test students’ ability to communicate ideas in writing, present clear and cogent arguments succinctly and show appropriate critical skills as relevant to the particular module.
  • Exam: Examinations test students’ ability to work under pressure, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 16 in Term 2; 1 in Term 3 1 Hour 17
Seminars 7 7 in Term 2 1 Hour 7
Preparation and Reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 2 Hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework assessment consisting of a short essay (max. 2000 words) or assignment of equivalent length e.g. source commentaries 2000 words excluding footnotes and bibliography 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination and to practice writing to similar word limits.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University