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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton First semester 2011 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Carolyn James


Previously coded HYM4115


This subject introduces the theoretical and conceptual frameworks appropriate to a study of Renaissance letters. It will analyse the development of the letter as a self-conscious literary genre but also dwell on more private correspondence, never meant for publication. Letters are essential sources, particularly for the social historian, and the insights and problems associated with using different kinds of letters as historical documents - whether they are carefully-crafted epistles drafted and redrafted by humanists and famous writers; practical, everyday communication; or even messages dictated to a scribe by the illiterate - will be the particular focus of discussion and analysis.


Students who complete this subject:

  1. Will have a thorough knowledge of the Renaissance letter collections chosen for study.
  2. Will understand the social or intellectual context in which the letters were written.
  3. Will be able to distinguish between different types of letters, through recognition of formal elements and the development of a critical perspective on the writer's audience and intentions.
  4. Will have developed an awareness of how gender, levels of literacy and exposure to classical literary models influenced both male and female letter writers.
  5. Will be able to engage in discussion of letters as historical evidence and demonstrate strong skills in the critical reading of historical scholarship that uses such evidence.
  6. Will be able to organise and defend an historical argument using appropriate letter collections, as well as other types of primary and secondary evidence.
  7. Students taking this subject at level five have the additional objectives of acquiring a greater degree of analytical skills, a deeper understanding of the key conceptual and methodological issues and a stronger degree of independence in locating and evaluating both primary and secondary historical resources.


Written work: 80% (7000 words)
seminar presentation and participation: 20% (2000 words)

Contact hours

2 hours per week


Major in Historical Studies