Advanced Research Course in History: History and Materiality (3 ECTS, digital course)

The series of Advanced Research Courses offered by the Norwegian Research School in History will delve into a specialized topic and focus on historiography and research methods. This particular course, organized by the University of Bergen and BI - Norwegian Business School, will focus on the different ways that historical studies has dealt with materiality. Update March 19: Due to the uncertainty of the covid-19 restriction moving foward, the course will now be held digital in Zoom. 

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NB! Update March 19: Due to the uncertainty of the covid-19 restriction moving foward, the course will now be held digital in Zoom. 

NB! Update April 21: Program and syllabus

NB! Updates deadline for paper from May 4 to May 12. 

History and materiality

What is the appropriate place of things, matter and the non-human in our understanding of history? This course invites the participants to bring their research into conversation with past and present research programs that stresses the importance of materiality in history.

The classic paradigm is the historical materialism of Marx and Engels, a somewhat later example is the materialist approach(es) of the French Annales school. More recently, environmental history is seeking to dethrone the human as the master of the world by incorporating the physical environment and non-human animals in historiography. These programs have in different ways challenged an idealism that has often been seen as ingrained in historical scholarship. Today, with renewed vigor, they provoke the historian to ask what role things and matter play in history.

The course will be conducted in English or Scandinavian, depending on the language skills of the participating PhD students. 

Learning objectives:

  • The student knows theoretical and methodological challenges and opportunities arising from the study of history and materiality, and can assess the relevance and merits of different approaches.
  • The student is able to discuss research questions and scholarly problems in this field of study.
  • The student is able to recognise ethical challenges and participate in scholarly and public debate.

Learning platform:

The learning platform used for this course is Microsoft Teams. Both the manuscript and reading responses must be uploaded in MS Teams. 


Registration: April 23, 2021.

We accept applications on a first-come-first-served basis for students of the partner institutions and other members of NRSH. For non-members, we will offer available spaces for PhD students in history and other historical disciplines after the registration date. To apply, please fill out this registration form

We will assess the applications shortly after the deadline and inform you of the assessment no later than five days after the deadline. 

Deadline for manuscripts: May 12, 2021

Required work for credits

  1. Students are expected to attend and participate through the whole course. and papers must be handed to the deadline and be approved. 
  2. Each teacher will prepare an abstract to her/his topic and ca. 40 pages of reading. To each list of readings, the participants will prepare a short reading response, 400–600 words. Ca. 200-250 pages required Readings in total.
  3. The work on the topics will be organized either as lectures with plenary discussions and group work with the responsible teacher participating successively in each group, or as a combination of a short lecture and group work. Each group will have 4–5 students.
  4. The participants shall also submit a paper (2500–3000 words) reflecting on the place of matter or materiality in their own fields of study. These papers will also be discussed in group sessions with a teacher present. Papers will be circulated and read in advance, and each participant will serve as main commentator on another’s contribution. If the paper is not approved immediately, the paper might be resubmitted for a new evaluation in three weeks’ time. The paper must be approved for the course to be completed.

Contact information: 

  • Svein Atle Skålevåg, University of Bergen:
  • Knut Sogner, BI - Norwegian Business School:

Partner institustions: 

  • University of Agder, Department of Religion, Philosophy and History
  • University of Bergen, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion
  • BI - Norwegian Business School, Department of Law and Governance
  • Nord University, Faculty of Social Science
  • NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Humanities
  • University of Oslo, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History
  • UiT - The Artic University of Norway, Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology
  • Volda University College - Social Sciences and History

* Advanced research courses will delve into a specialized topic. It may be either a course in historiography and research methods or in the application of historical knowledge in society at large. Both variants will have an international reach: we invite prominent academics outside of Norway to teach them, and seek participation by PhD students at non-Norwegian universities.  

Published Nov. 24, 2020 1:11 PM - Last modified Apr. 23, 2021 4:19 PM