Course code: P/IR/FELV-4

Course title: Introduction into microhistory

Instructor: István Szijártó

Time: every second Thursday 14.00–17.00 (Central European Time)

Location: -- (on-line course held on


Course homepage:


Maximum number of students admitted: 12, of which 2 places are reserved for PhD students of Eötvös University, Budapest. Preliminary applications (as an indication of interest) might be already sent from 10 April to The application deadline is 30 August 2020. PhD students are given priority. The attendance of this course is free of charge.


Educational objectives:

The course is intended as an introduction into microhistory in English for an international group of students. While designed for Hungarian PhD students as a usual PhD course following the rules and customs valid in Hungary (14 study weeks, 180-minute seminars once in a fortnight, 10 ECTS credits), it is open for other students, too. The language of tuition is English and classes are held online. In the classes, both classical and recently published works of microhistory will be discussed in a comparative perspective, and questions about the theory of microhistory will also be touched upon.


Course content:

1. 10 September: Introduction

2. 24 September: Classical works of the Italian microstoria

3. 8 October: Classical works of non-Italian microhistory

4. 22 October: Debates about the theory of microhistory (This class is to be held in two parts. From 14.00 CET we shall discuss books and articles that feature in the prescribed reading, then from 16.15 CET Sigurđur Gylfi Magnússon will be the guest of our seminar.)

5. 5 November: Narration and microhistory (This class is to be held in two parts. From 14.00 CET we shall discuss Tom Cohen’s books and from 16.00 CET he will be the guest of our seminar himself.)

6. 19 November: Microhistory of Renaissance Italy

7. 3 December: Cultural and social microhistory today (This class is to be held in two parts. From 14.00 CET we shall discuss the books that feature in the prescribed reading, then from 15.15 CET Claire Judde de Larivičre, from 16.15 both Claudia Verhoeven will be the guest of our seminar.)


Course requirements:

As a minimum, two thirds of the classes are to be attended. Students should read the books or articles prescribed. For missed classes, readings should be made up to by 3 December the latest or a comparative book review is to be written instead by this date.


Prescribed reading:

2. Carlo Ginzburg: The Cheese and the Worms. The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Routledge and Kegan Paul: London and Henley, 1980.; Giovanni Levi: Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1988.


3. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie: Montaillou. The Promised Land of Error. Braziller: New York, 1978.; Natalie Zemon Davis: The Return of Martin Guerre. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1983.


4. Sigurđur Gylfi Magnússon: ‘The Singularization of History: Social History and Microhistory within the Postmodern State of Knowledge’, Journal of Social History 36 (2003) 701–35.; Sigurđur Gylfi Magnússon – István M. Szijártó: What is microhistory? Theory and practice. Routledge: London – New York, 2013.; István M. Szijártó: ’The paths of microhistory’, Quaderni storici 53 (2018) 917–928.


5. Thomas V. Cohen: Love and Death in Renaissance Italy. University of Chicago Press: Chicago–London, 2004.; Thomas V. Cohen: Roman Tales: A Reader’s Guide to the Art of Microhistory. Routledge: London – New York, 2019.


6. Edward Muir: The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance: Sceptics, Libertines, and the Opera. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA – London, 2007.; Guido Ruggiero: Machiavelli in Love. Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 2007.


7. Claudia Verhoeven: The Odd Man Karakozov. Imperial Russia, Modernity, and the Birth of Terrorism. Cornell University Press: Ithaca – London, 2009.; Claire Judde de Larivičre: The Revolt of Snowballs. Murano Confronts Venice, 1511. Routledge: London – New York, 2018.