Volume 2019/2020

Everybody agrees that privacy is essential, but no authoritative definition exists. Notions of privacy and private concern the confrontation between the individual and his or her surroundings and the boundaries drawn in this context. Recent technological innovations have incited a general concern with privacy, but also narrowed our understanding. We associate privacy with data protection and consider it as a value that is relevant only for our age.

Privacy, however, has deep historical roots. When we study privacy across the gap between past and present, we gain a better sense of the rich and complex implications of the evasive term ‘private’ which contrasts not only ‘public’, but also of ‘professional’, ‘common’ and ‘evident’. A multi-perspectival view shows how notions of privacy past and present shape and are shaped by a broad range of societal factors.

This course will take a multidisciplinary approach to privacy past and present. The course will introduce the students to a broad array of approaches and analytical skills. It will teach them to examine how delineations of privacy permeate widely different dimensions of Western culture, while opening a view towards a global perspective and discussing if, where and how privacy can be protected in the future. Bridging the gap between past and present, the course introduces a new approach both to historical studies and to studies of contemporary culture and society. Finally, the students’ different



12 August 2019–23 August 2019

Monday 12 Aug. 9-12 Welcome: Privacy past and present

Tuesday 13 Aug. 9-12 Architectural framing of private space: from communal alcoves to glass facades

13-15 Excursion: Boat Tour of the Copenhagen Harbour, private space from 1600 to 2019

Wednesday 14 Aug. 9-12 Privacy and surveillance: from early modern Quartermasters to the tracking of digital footprints

13-15 Notions of privacy from around the world

Thursday 15 Aug. 9-12 Privacy and citizen archives: from parish registers to DNA-registers

Friday 16 Aug. 9-12 Privacy in society: from potential societal threat to human right

Monday 19 Aug. 9-12 Privacy and the self: subjectivity past and present

13-15 Notions of privacy from around the world

Tuesday 20 Aug. 9-12 Politics and diplomacy between public and private: from princely mirrors to tweeting presidents

Wednesday 21 Aug. 9-12 Representing privacy: art, theater, literature

13-15 Notions of privacy from around the world

Thursday 22 Aug. 10-15 Excursion: Rosenborg and Hirschsprungs Samling

Friday 23 Aug. 9-12 Conclusion


The assessment is based on two parts:
Course participation: Active class attendance (75% attendance). Active course participation is a prerequisite for writing the exam paper.
Undergraduate requirements: Familiarity with a reading list (primary and secondary literature) of 600 - 750 pages. A written paper of 16,800 – 21,600 characters approx. 7-9 pages (formally, 2400 characters per page, including spaces), based on 250-300 pages of primary literature.
Master requirements: Familiarity with a reading list (primary and secondary literature) of 600 - 750 pages. A written paper of 19,200 – 24,000 characters approx. 8-10 pages (formally, 2400 characters per page, including spaces), based on 450-600 pages of primary literature.
Assessment: Danish 7-point grading scale and ECTS letter grading scale.
Final Paper due 15 September.

Chartier, Roger with Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby (eds), A History of Private Life, Volume III: Passions of the Renaissance (Harvard; Belknap Press: 1989)

Rössler, Beate, The Value of Privacy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014)

Sloot, Bart van der and Aviva de Groot (eds), The Handbook of Privacy Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018)

Classes include lectures, discussions and group work. After completion of the course, the students will have learned analytical skills suited to a broad range of materials; have been trained to work
across different periods and societal contexts; and, finally, have experienced an open and inquisitive scholarly atmosphere.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment