Early Modern Knowledge (Section 14, Fall 2017)

About this class

To quote L.P. Hartley: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  Early modern Europe (1500-1800) does indeed seem like a foreign land, where kings and queens ruled over a population that would be considered both ignorant and subservient by modern standards. And yet, this was a universe that had its own rationale and a time when important developments in scientific, philosophical, political, and religious knowledge laid the foundation for the world in which we live today. Western society embraced the notion that the earth revolved around the sun, and ideas about a divinely ordained monarchy gave way to the defense of democratic forms; theologians tore apart the Christian church, and people began to think through the implications of empire and conquest as Europeans spread themselves around the globe.

How was knowledge constructed in this period, and how and why did older forms of knowing give way to new ways of understanding the universe? Moreover, how were the various intellectual developments of the day interrelated, and what does all of this tell us about the production of knowledge more generally? This course will investigate how knowledge was produced (and also reformed) in the early modern world and, in the process, develop students' capacity for critical thought and analysis. It is organized thematically rather than chronologically, and incorporates workshops and in-class activities alongside lecture material. A participation mark will be also assigned.

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by AyBeeSeeOneTwoThree on October 31, 2017
Evaluating Change in Medicine: The Difficulty in Comparing Old Methodology with New

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by FreudianSlip on October 30, 2017
"The Trial of Witch-Craft, Shrewing the True and Methode of the Discouvery: With a Confutation of Erroneous Wayes" by John Cotta is a small 5 by 7-inch hardcover book written in English by John Cotta in the early 17th century. The book seems to be good quality, but on further investigation, it becomes apparent that it was rebound multiple times, and has a new cover. When you open the book, some pages are trimmed, showing how it was aligned every time the book was rebound the pages were aligned for the sake of making the book look better.

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by @freshprince on October 30, 2017
The 18th century, a time period viewed as the Enlightenment, was one evolution and advances in Europe. The medical field still had a strong non-scientific influence, but it can be considered as the start of the rise of scientific medicine (Rodgers, 2017). Many important books were printed and distributed, which was the start of the increasing importance of the human anatomy (Spray).

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by euphoricnightmares on October 26, 2017
Time is a measurement in which cripples the forms of allowing for the evolution towards what is true, basing present knowledge on previous beliefs and perceptions. The 16th-century novel, Sea Diseases or, A Treatise of their Nature, Caufs, and Cure. Also an Essay on Bleeding in Fevers; Shewing The Quantities of Blood to be Let in Any of Their Periods. The Third Edition, by William Cockburn being a 8” by 5” weighing approximately at half a pound was not in the best physical condition, given that when settled on the foam holder there was a residue of brown dust.

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by topaz on October 26, 2017
           The study of early modern medicine is only made possible through the examination of the written texts from the period. One of such books is titled The Order of the Hospitalls of [Henry VIII and Edward VI, 1557]. Different from most of the texts analyzed by the medical historians, which directly discuss many of the medical theories and knowledge from the early modern period, this text in fact focuses more on the legislation and administration of four hospitals in London.

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by abc123456 on October 26, 2017
The Osler library, located on the McGill campus, is a place where you can find hundreds of rare and expensive books about medicine written as long as 500 years ago. During my two trips there, I read pages from The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, a 1392-page medicine book written by John Gerarde and published in 1597, not very long after the invention of the printing press.

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by SmoothJuggler on October 26, 2017
The Order of the Hospitals is a rare book that was published in 1557 by the mayor and citizens of London. It is a relatively tiny book, roughly 12 centimeters by 7 centimeters and has an estimated weight of 80 grams. The majority of the book is written in the font known as Dutch Black Letter, and it smells like an old church. The cover is brown and bears an elegant gold diamond surrounded by four sword-like symbols that resemble the Fleurdelisé of the Quebec flag.

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by Saturn on October 26, 2017
At the Osler Library in McGill, one can find many important books on the history of medicine used and written by influential physicians of the early modern period or earlier. However, knowledge of medicine is not limited to university-trained physicians, it was practiced (and still is) by people of lower social ranks as well. Among the selection of books, there is Aristotle’s Master-Piece which is manual for women on midwifery and sex. Contrary to its title, the book was written by an unknown author under the pseudonym of Aristotle.

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by Canadians2000 on October 26, 2017
       During the trip to the Osler Library that was on the McGill campus my class and I had the opportunity to work with some old artifacts which happened to be books. The book my group worked with was William Cockburn’s," Sea Diseases: Or A Treatise Of Their Nature, Caufes, And Cure. Also, An Essay On Bleeding In Fevers;". What was great about the book was the fact that the information that was portrayed throughout the pages was about how they discovered diseases that happened while men sailed the seas.

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by sandsieve on October 26, 2017
Aristotle's masterpiece, “a manual of sex and pregnancy, first saw the light of day about 1680” (“exclassic”). It is written by an unknown author who used Aristotle as a pseudonym. The copy of the book (which is 24mo in size) in the Osler Library is the early American reproduction of the 1710 London edition, printed for the Company of Flying Stationers in 1793, New York (Gaba). The book is written in English and the font is small.

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by Halls123456 on October 26, 2017
The rare book presented above is called De la demonomanie des sorciers written by French jurist Jean Bodin. His work was published in the late 14th century, between the years of 1592 and 1593 in French. De la demonomanie des sorciers is generally written in French; however, there is Grecque as well as Latin. It's estimated weight would be roughly 500 grams and dimensions would be 17 centimeters by 11 centimeters, making it a relatively small book.

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by ea1234 on October 26, 2017
    You can find a plethora of rare books on medicine at the Osler library, ranging from Galileo and Aristotle to unknown and bizarre authors. One of those books, is a book written by William Cockburn in 1736, named Sea Diseases. The author was a Scottish physician, that, in his last few years of life, decided to write a book of all of the illnesses and diseases that appear when at sea and their effects.

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by Alexa_Da12 on October 26, 2017
    At the Osler Library, you can find a plethora of rare books on medicine. Among the rows of shelves, there are treasures such as the “De humani corporis fabrica libri septem” (1543) by Vesalius (worth 500 000 USD), but there are also hidden gems. One of them is the book “Aristotle’s Master-Pieces or Every Woman’s Book! Displaying all the Secrets of Nature as Exhibited in the Creation of Man”. At first glance, it seems fairly unremarkable; its cover is tattered, its pages are pages stained - it’s clear that the book has been heavily used.

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6 years 8 months ago

Comments will be arriving from Montreal students to NYC students for March 3, as a part of the below assignment:

Organizational Research and NYC comments: 10%


Due Monday March 3, 2014 at noon on NewsActivist and Turnitin.com


This assignment requires you to research and explore four non-profit organizations or socially responsible businesses that provide volunteer opportunities. Each volunteer opportunity submitted is worth 2% of your final mark for a total of 8% of the course.


You will also make two comments to NYC students as we generally have been doing, during class time on either February 24 or February 27 and each is worth 1%.


So, you will submit four volunteer opportunities and two comments by March 3 at noon for 10% of the course.


You can choose to do the volunteer research part of this work as a group of two, three, or four people, each member who has been posting about the same issue. If you do the organizational research as a team, this is good as during the February 19 organization day, each of you can interview one organization that day, and the organizations won’t receive the same questions too many times. If you do the organization research as a team, each member will submit at least one volunteer opportunity to newsactivist, and the group will submit the group’s findings in class March 3 as a printout with all group members’ names.


If you do the organization research as a team, all four opportunities will relate to the same issue.  If you do the organization research alone, you can research two organizations related to your superpost and the other two related to other submitted news summaries.

1. Reflect on your superpost or a news summary or a new story that inspires your research. 
2. Search for organizations working on improving the issue associated with the story. If you want to, can find others in the class interested in the same issue and make this a group project. However, each member of the group (maximum four) will submit an individual volunteer opportunity to the site and the four members will submit their four volunteer opportunities as a group to me in class as a printout.
3. For full marks for each volunteer opportunity/organization research, you must include:

a.       The organization’s core values and goals.

b.      The major projects the organization is working on in 2014.

c.       The volunteer opportunities that would be available to those wanting to help in the organizations mission. (You might need to call or email)

d.      The contact person and information for the volunteer opportunities

e.      Optional information:

                                                                          i.      The history of the organization

                                                                        ii.      The past projects the organization dealt with

                                                                      iii.      The job opportunities associated with the organization.

6 years 9 months ago

Hi Janet,

THE Gen 421 pasted course description needs to be reposted when you can. I can't see it.

Also, will we have any collaborative exercises taking place before March 30? Will you be using newsactivist for your earlier classes?


6 years 9 months ago

Hi Stacey,.

I have a teacher at Champlain who would love to have a collaborative partner for some feedback assignments. Her course mainly deals with understanding cultures different from our own, which seems to fit with some of your courses.

Let me know and I'll introduce you two!



6 years 11 months ago

My classes will start posting their news summaries twice weekly on January 20. They will start being assigned feedback writing as of January 27-February10. My classes run until early May.


7 years 6 months ago

Hi folks,

First of all, Linda, get your collaborators to sign up here soon and access this thread so we can plan!

I was inspired to ask for this as I have a colleague, a photography teacher, who might want to join you in this project.

I'd also love to be able to continue the conversation with Joe I started about this site and photography. Clearly, film is a part of your work, so I'd like to spend time considering how we'll be able to make this site best serve your purposes!



7 years 6 months ago

Hi Linda,

I'm really excited about your plans!

Although I may not be able to participate next year in the collaboration, I will be able to support you guys and provide guidance in how to use the site and even to link you (I think!) to a sociology professor in California who may be using the site in the fall!

The best way to incorporate videos, as far as I can tell, will be to upload them to youtube and to provide links and explanation in a post on the page of the film-maker.

Alternatively, low quality videos should be able to be uploaded directly, and a lot of the work in planning and preparing the video can take place in the newsactivist website.

Students can share material only with friends (and teacher's can be part of that) and over the summer I want to be making the site a little clearer about which campuses are collaborating so certain posts can be shared with the collaborating classes and not the whole website community- for drafts and planning.

Then final products can be marked public and the whole site can explore and comment on the work your collaborating students are developing!

Let me know any questions and try to get the other teachers who are involved to comment on this thread- then you will all get emails when any additional comments are added to this thread!

So excited to see what takes place!


7 years 8 months ago

I will post this here, but have also created a thread for design suggestions. But Norm and I discussed a few larger site design issues this morning, and so I'll include them in this thread. The below issues may not be resolved until the end of the semester, since design and implementation might lead to bugs or make certain time-sensitive work unavailable.

1. We would like to Private class material that is to be seen by several but not all classes- how to navigate this?
--- norm has request to "only see in certain classes"
--- It is important to note that back-end shifts in types of content or class can lead to problems with content already submitted from different menus.

2. Activities that don't have links to news stories? Shall there be a category that is default hidden from the front page for more reflectional or compositional work that is not yet ready for front page sharing?

3.It would be good if teacher's could organize the material posted by their students in certain threads, such as according to assignment or at least by date or some such system. The search function and tagging allow for certain possibilities in the current design, which Norm will be testing with his classes to see if it allows enough control of content.

7 years 8 months ago

Hi norm 

see you Monday. Where and when shall I Meet you? Your office at noon? Can you provide the office number for me again?



ps: how was the class for you and your students Monday, Rebecca? Nice to have met you! 


7 years 8 months ago

Click on another class (Newsactivism 2013 will work or Kaldor's sociology class) and you can see how the posts will show up, most recent at the top!

Let me know if that helps,


7 years 9 months ago

Hi Norm, Rebecca, and Claudie!

Reading Norm's last post gives me a perspective that is important to reiterate: all teachers and students using this site this semester share the exciting possibility of being able to shape this new and developing site as it grows, sometimes by discovering certain bugs or features that are not quite ready for use. Being a part of this project will push me and this site forward and allows us to all be sharing the shaping of the site, and it makes it exciting for our students to be using such a new web-tool, but they should be informed we are using such a tool, an ambitious website with little funding thus far, that works, but is going to be improved a lot by our use of it this semester.

My campus directorhas allotted ten hours of technician pay per month through June to help in the maintenance and improvement of the site. I told him how we have used a lot of time getting the teacher's forum up and runnning in January (here we are using it!) and that we could use a little more of the technician's work in January, as we've used up his ten hours of time, but I discovered in my first classes using the site this week that certain privacy features (which are crucial) needed to be fixed. Luckily, he alotted another five hours of technician time to the site for January, and the privacy of students is now avaiable. I am adding the below note about privacy to the FAQs section of the site, but here is how to keep students' posts private, but visible to the teacher:

When a student wants to keep a post or posts private, the easiestway to do so is to share the post "only with friends" (an option on the content submission form) and have the teacher of the course be the student's friend.

Yesterday, this was working to make the "only my friends" post private within a certain class, yet the private post was still showed up on the front page of the site! With the extra technical time, we've already started tweaking the site and now posts shared "only with friends" really are not visible to other site users at any place on the site.

Such is the way this site's ongoing development will flow in real time! As teachers and students find flaws or have ideas of how the site might flow better, please always share them! I hope to keep improving the site for all of us.

So, hello to Rebecca and Claudie! Let me know when I can visit your classes to share the site with your students, if you would like that, and otherwise, see you here in this forum as we plan together.



There no collaborative classes

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