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Masterclass – Natalie Zemon Davis (University of Toronto)

Intended for: PhD candidates
Maximum number of participants: 5
Maximum number of auditors: 10
Date: 11 April 2014, 13.15-16.30
Venue: Universiteitstheater, room 1.01A, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18, Amsterdam
Coordination: dr. Maartje van Gelder (UvA)
Credits: 1 EC (for participants, auditors do not receive credits)
Registration (for auditors)

Natalie Zemon Davis, one of the most original and renowned historians of the early modern world, will conduct a master class on Friday 11 April 2014. The entire master class will be focused on the PhD candidates’ own research projects. Participants will write a short paper (2-3 pages) on their research theme and give a short presentation during the master class, followed by feedback from professor Zemon Davis and a general discussion.


We invite participants working on medieval and early modern history to apply for this master class by sending an email in which they give their details (name, university) as well as a brief explanation of their research project to m[dot]vangelder[at]uva[dot]nl. Deadline: 1 March 2014.

RMA students, PhD candidates and other members of the research schools who want to attend the master class as auditors can register here.

Natalie Zemon Davis

Professor Zemon Davis is a prolific historian, whose main interest is early modern social and cultural history. Her research has given a voice to individuals and groups often neglected in mainstream historiography, such as peasants, artisans, women, Jews and slaves. Her book Women on the Margins (1995), for example, traced and compared the lives of the Jewish merchant Glikl Hamel, the artist Maria Sibylla Merian and the nun Marie de l’Incarnation.

Zemon Davis combines a love for archival research with an interdisciplinary approach, for instance drawing on anthropology and ethnology. She is known for the balanced way in which she has used analogous evidence and interpretations when primary sources remain mute. The most famous example of this approach is The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), her book on an impostor taking on the identity of a French peasant in the 16th –century Pyrenees.

Although Natalie Zemon Davis started her career working on early modern France, her recent research has broadened in geographical scope. The Mediterranean formed the background for Tricksters Travels (2006), on the sixteenth-century convert Hassan al-Wassan/Leo Africanus. She is currently working on a book on social networks and communication among slaves and Jewish and Christian plantation owners in 18th-century Suriname.

This master class is organized in cooperation with the Center for Medieval Studies Amsterdam.


Preparation for participants:

  • Short paper (2-3 pages) on research topic: deadline Wednesday 26 March 2014
  • Short presentation
  • Reading the precirculated short papers of the other participants

Preparation for auditors:

  • Reading the precirculated short papers of the participants