Time, Travel and Communication in Early Modern Europe

This course is a history of early modern European technology with a strong focus on design technologies and material culture. It will cover the time period extending approximately from the Age of Exploration through the French Revolution (about 1500-1800).We will examine early modern ideas about three critical aspects of modern life: time, communication and travel. (Interpretation of these themes will be broad and may include not only carriages and bridges but also carriage upholstery and passports; not only letters, newspapers and books but also songs and emblems; not only the shift from public to personal time but also calendar reform.) In addition to readings (both primary and secondary) and discussions (in-class and online), students will choose to study three artifacts that are relevant to the themes of time, communication and travel, research them and present their findings to the class.

3 credits

Course Code: SS 378

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.