HI6010 - Women, Crime and Subversion in Early Modern Europe

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn how different scholars have conceptualised and written about women, crime and subversion from 1400 to 1800. You will assess and analyse why and how tensions in the early modern period meant that authorities across Europe directed their attention upon women in specific ways. The influence of the Protestant reformation is examined in terms of its impact upon female behaviour. Female criminality and subversive behaviour will be examined through a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, including feminist and gender theories. Key concepts at the fore of this module include witchcraft, petty treason, infanticide, female piracy, prostitution, adultery and fornication, lesbianism, the crime of cross-dressing, and women’s strategies in European court systems. You will move beyond areas classified as criminal to behaviour considered as subversive and deviant, such as domestic disorder. You will utilize a wide range of primary sources including court records, the Old Bailey legal records, assize court records and female testimonies from across Europe which will equip you to think critically about academic literature, primary sources and historical interpretation.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lecturers and seminars that present core concepts of female criminality and subversion, a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to studying the history of female criminality, and the historiographical debates in the field. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and will build upon your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. All learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. You will participate in formative assessment activities and receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment matches your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your academic tutors, your peers, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised office hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Critically analyse the way in which scholars understand key issues of female criminal history, such as the rise in legal definitions of female crime, and the move towards increasingly punitive treatments of women across Europe, as well as the agency of women within the legal systems across Europe.

2. Critically discuss and consider the position of women in studies of criminality in the early modern period, along with the conceptual debates over female behaviour labelled criminal and deviant.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Critically engage with historical theories and methodologies to investigate and analyse women’s relationship to the courts and law.

4. Apply knowledge and communicate your informed opinions about early modern female criminality to challenge historical claims and arguments.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate an awareness of historical treatment of criminal and subversive women, and how these legal changes have shaped perceptions of female behaviour over time, including our own perceptions.

How will I be assessed?

Your knowledge and understanding of women, crime and subversion in early modern Europe, your ability to analyse and critically discuss historiographical theories, their assumptions and application, and present a variety of primary evidence will be tested in two 3,000 word essays, set by the tutor, which will span the breadth of the modules’ coverage. MLOs 1-5

You will have the opportunity to present your work in seminars in student led discussion of the modules central themes. You will receive formative feedback from your lecturer in classroom discussions, debates and tutorial sessions. Formative assessment through your lecturer will be written and verbal. You will also receive feedback through your engagement with your peers who will enable you to test your explanations about the nature of changes in female criminality and its treatment throughout Europe, allowing you to form your own understanding of the diversity of women’s criminal behaviour across Europe c. 1400-1800. Feedback on your first summative assessment will allow you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code LV21

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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