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Workshop ‘Interrogating Historical Lenses: Encounters between Micro- and Global History’

Microhistory, connected to cultural history, gained popularity as a historical methodology in the late 1970s, particularly in Italy. Conversely, global history originally stemmed from comparative economic history in the late 1990s, although it has since embraced many suggestions of the cultural turn, particularly the association between culture and connectivity. While micro-history has been criticised for producing only ‘minimalist theses’, global history has been criticised for neglecting individuals in its accounts of the past. In recent years, the growing field of global microhistory has sought to address these issues and bridge both approaches, which have often been understood as opposites.

Led by the PI of the MSCA-funded project GRADIENTS, which combines microanalysis and global history, this thematic workshop offers ReMa students and PhD candidates an opportunity to become familiar with global microhistories, their challenges, and opportunities as tools for researching and writing cultural history. The workshop is composed of three sessions. First, students will become familiar with different historiographical debates: What is microhistory? What is global history? What is global microhistory? Does the question of scale matter in Cultural History? In the last session, two examples of global microhistory will be dissected to better understand how this approach works in practice.


  • Session 1 – 11 September 2024, 14:15-17:00h: Foundations: Cultural History, Microhistory, and Global History
  • Session 2 – 18 September 2024, 14:15-17:00h: Global Micro-Histories: Approaches
  • Session 3 – 25 September 2024, 14:15-17:00h: Global Micro-Histories: Practices

Learning aims and outcomes
Students will acquire knowledge of current historiographical debates on the intersection of microanalysis and global history. They will be encouraged to consider the methodological consequences of these debates and reflect on globalising cultural history at a conceptual and theoretical level.

On a practical level, students will review and comment on literature and historiographic approaches in different written forms, analysing how the author builds their argument, structure their argumentation, and attends to sources and evidence (i.e. How does the author correlate their argument to the sources?). Therefore, students will develop transferable skills for their own academic writing (irrespective of using global microhistory approaches in their research).

Assessment and assignments
Students are expected to close read the set texts each week. Close reading means attending to different dimensions of the texts, such as identifying the authors’ central arguments and how they
relate to larger historical concerns and debates. Students will be asked to send in a thought, question, or comment about the readings before each class and are expected to take an active part in the discussion based on the readings during the sessions.

As a final assignment, students will write a short reflection (c. 650-1000 words) on how methodological and/or analytical approaches derived from micro-history, global history, and/or global microhistory
can be incorporated in their own historical work – or why they cannot be incorporated in their own research. The submission of the final assignment, as well as presence in class, are conditions for obtaining ECTS.

(Preliminary) Literature:
Session 1:
– Carlo Ginzburg, “Microhistory: Two or Three Things That I Know about It.” Critical Inquiry, 20, 1, 1993, pp. 10–35.
– Armitage, David, and Jo Guldi, ‘The Return of the Longue Durée. An Anglo-American Perspective’, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 70, 2, 2015, pp. 289-318.
– Lynn Hunt, “Does History Need a Reset?”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 70, 2, 2015, pp. 319-325.
– Sebastian Conrad, What is Global History?, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2016, pp. 62-89

Session 2:
– Francesca Trivellato, ‘Is there a future to Italian Microhistory in the Age of Global History?’ California Italian Studies, 2:1 (2011).
– Carlo Ginzburg, ‘Microhistory and world history’. In Bentley JH, Subrahmanyam S, Wiesner-Hanks ME, eds. The Cambridge World History, Cambridge Cambridge University Press; 2015, pp. 446-473.
– John-Paul A. Ghobrial, ‘Introduction: Seeing the World like a Microhistorian’, Past & Present, Special issue on ‘Global History and Microhistory’ 242, supplement 14 (2019), 1-22, Christian de Vito, ‘History without scale: the micro-spatial perspective,’ Past & Present, Special issue on ‘Global History and Microhistory’ 242, supplement 14 (2019), pp. 348-72,

Session 3:
In order to better reflect the interests of the group, the two texts to be discussion in the last
session will be selected together in class.

ECTS/Study load
2 ETCS (1 ECTS equals study 28 hours):
– Contact hours: 9 hours
– Readings: 45 hours
– Preparation of a thought, question, or comment about the readings ahead of each session:
1.5 hour per session
– Final assignment: 3 hours

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