851-0006-00L  Water in the Early Modern Period: A Material and Environmental History

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersT. Asmussen
Periodicitynon-recurring course
Language of instructionGerman

AbstractThe seminar deals with questions of how water was perceived, used and appropriated in medieval and early modern societies. We examine water as a livelihood (drinking water, irrigation resource), energy source, transport medium, infrastructure and threat between 1400 and 1800.
ObjectiveThe students acquire historical knowledge of how pre-modern societies appropriated the natural substance water and how they themselves were formed and changed by the interactions with the liquid element. Students are expected to read original German, French and English sources.
ContentThe seminar examines the history of the substance and uses of water from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century. Using text and image sources, we will examine the physical, cultural, economic and scientific-technical implications of the relationship between man and water in plenary sessions and groups.
We deal with (al-)chemical analyses of water in the context of medical treatises and spas, the expansion and challenges of the water infrastructure ( fountains, sewage canals, irrigation canals, inland waterways), the associated changes of landscapes as well as with water as a threat (floods).