Assignments and Student Work

3 Response Papers (3–4 pages Double-spaced, Due at Start of Class)

For selected class meetings—the schedule of which will be determined at the start of the term—students will submit a 3 to 4 page written response to the readings that have been assigned for a given class meeting. It is the quality of the work, not the length of the paper, that is the main concern (though don't exceed 5 pages, please). Generally, the papers should give a critical synopsis of the arguments of the assigned texts for a given meeting, as well as lucidly and convincingly present the student's own assessment of the key themes and topics. A good paper will present the most convincing and specific evidence you can find to fortify and substantiate your thoughts on the readings.

For most class sessions, we will have a rotating core group that is comprised of a two discussion leaders and three (?) panelists. A core component of each class will revolve around a thoughtful discussion of selected interpretive studies. For nearly every class, the discussion leaders will be charged preparing discussion questions that ask the authors of panel papers to converse about the readings. A good discussion leader will try to keep the discussion focused on a particular problem, and will be often asked to summarize the discussion at the end of the class. I will work with the discussion leader in class to help facilitate his or her role. Both the discussion leader and the panelists will submit response papers.

Example Response Papers

"Networks of Trade and Surveillance: The Case of the Fondaco" (PDF) by an MIT Student

"Early Modern Urbanization and Marketplaces and an Architecture of Trade" (PDF) by an MIT Student

Final Presentation

In consultation with me, each student will develop an oral presentation—delivered during one of our final meetings—that expands on our subject's questions and themes. You will meet with me early during the semester to select a topic. Midway through the semester we will rendezvous again to discuss the bibliography that you have developed. Topics might include (but are not limited to): The historiography of capitalism and the early modern period; late medieval and Renaissance monetary theory; the morality of money during the early modern era; the spatial regulation of ports and the sea; walls and gates in cities and towns; land-use patterns in sharecropping and rural communities; early modern property rights; mercantile treatises and goods commerce; architectural places of commerce and exchange; issues surrounding public and private consumption; the gendering of early modern commercial space; the architecture and urbanism of mints; the craft and consumption of natural fiber products, such as tapestries and woolen goods; or envoys and transnational gift exchange. Your formal presentation should be about 25 minutes long, with additional time allotted for responses and questions.

Final Paper

You will submit a 15-page paper (excluding footnotes, bibliography and illustrations) that is based on your final presentation, the feedback you receive following your presentation, and additional guidance from me. I expect that your paper will draw on the substance of your presentation, but that you will have developed your thoughts and the content of your argument in significant ways.

Example Final Papers

"Marking the Water: Territoriality, Fortifications, and Port Cities in Early Modern Italy" (PDF) by an MIT Student

"Fluid Currency: The Political Economy of Hydrology in Baroque Rome" (PDF - 1.3MB) by an MIT Student