Honours course descriptions 2007-08

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Britain and the Second World War (H)


This course, which is taught over two semesters, looks at selected aspects of Britain and the Second World War, with particular emphasis on the war in Europe. The work of the first semester will be mainly devoted to the home front. Topics covered include Britain's role in the outbreak of the war, Churchill's rise to power, the organisation of the war economy, relations between the social classes, the role of women, civilian morale, the Beveridge Report, and the 1945 general election. There will also be a discussion of a selection of contemporary British wartime films. The second semester will be mainly devoted to battles/military campaigns in which British forces played a prominent role. Topics covered include the British evacuation from Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of El Alamein, the strategic bombing offensive, D-Day, and Operation Market Garden. Other topics include Anglo-American wartime relations, Britain and the Jews of Europe, and Churchill's wartime leadership. Again, there will be a discussion of a selection of contemporary British wartime films.


Charlemagne and his World: Society

and Empire in Western Europe

c.750-900 (H)

Mon 2.00-3.50

A study of the transformation of Western Europe during the reigns of Charlemagne and his predecessors and successors, in the fields of politics, economic, social and religious life, culture and ideology.


China: Gender, Patriarchy and

Sociopolitical Change in the Twentieth

Century (H)

Thu 2.00-3.50

The course explores the lives, experiences and roles of Chinese women from the late nineteenth century to the present. It will draw on a variety of disciplines that will include social and cultural anthropology, literature, popular culture and history. After ‘deconstructing’ conventional assumptions concerning women in ‘traditional’ China, the course analyses the origins, evolution and nature of modern Chinese feminism and how it was intertwined with (or subordinated to) nationalism, class revolution and developmental priorities. In particular the course will explore the urban and rural experiences of Chinese women and how their social and political status was affected by their own actions, successive government and party policies, and the persistence of patriarchal norms and values in society. Analyses of gender discourses will also focus on how femininity and masculinity have been represented. Use will be made of literature (in translation) and other documentary sources where relevant. There will be one seminar per week taking place on Thursdays from 2:00 – 3:50pm. For some of the seminars you will be expected to read translated documents, which you should attempt to make use of where possible in the writing of your semester essay.


Colonies and Commerce: The

Economy of British America 1607-1770 (ESH)


The course considers the economic and social history of Britain's American colonies in the context of the rise of the North Atlantic economy.

In the first semester a regional approach indicates the diversity of experience within Britain's first empire. Attention focuses on problems of settlement, different strategies for development, and the importance of the regional staple in affecting the pattern of growth within the North Atlantic economy.

In the second semester, a topic based approach promotes comparison between the regions. The similarity and diversity of conditions within the empire makes the exercise both fruitful and interesting. It also underpins an assessment of the significance of colonial expansion and commerce for the British economy.

This course is taught through 22 one-hour lectures and 20 one-hour student led seminars.

Not to be taken with the History course U02519 'Pre-Revolutionary America'.


Energy, Environment and Security: Energy Policy in Britain, France and the United States since 1974 (ESH)

Mon 4.10-6.00

This course examines the main developments in energy policy in France, Britain and the United States. Topics covered include: nationalisation; pricing; environmental concerns; depletion; Suez and OPEC oil crises; nuclear crises, Three Mile Island; the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community; privatisation and the 'dash for gas'; the impact of new and alternative technologies on energy policies.


Gandhi & popular Movements in India 1915-1950 (H)


This course enquires into the role played by the ideology and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in India's struggle for independence. In addition the neglected but equally important part played by social, revolutionary and peasant-based movements in this period will be examined. The course will focus attention on an important period in modern Indian history and by its structure will highlight new perspectives in historical writing on India which have been a source of considerable debate of late. In particular the validity of "official" accounts of recent Indian history - whether written from a nationalist or a colonialist perspective - has been contested in what is now developing into a voluminous re-interpretative literature. This course will therefore survey the conventional historiography concerning the influence of British constitutional initiatives, caste associations,political factions and prominent national leaders - particularly Mahatma Gandhi - in the independence movement. At the same time it will examine a range of new writing on Indian history which analyses the disparate, unorganised and sometimes violent "grassroots" and popular movements which played an equally important role in undermining colonial rule.


Highland Problems 1851-1953 (SH)


In the immediate aftermath of the potato famine in the Scottish Highlands a Report on Highland conditions by Sir John MacNeill recommended that assisted emigration should be employed to deal with the 'surplus population of the region'. In 1953 a Commission of Enquiry into Crofting Conditions considered the issue of how to reform land tenure in order to revitalise the Highlands. Between these two dates the Scottish Highlands were one of the major issues in Scottish politics. The bulk of this course will consider the period from 1880 to c1925, encompassing the Crofters' War, the granting of security of tenure to Highland crofters and government attempts to place more land at the disposal of crofters. The main theme will be the variety of approaches adopted by governments of the period to cope with the problems presented by the Highlands. The background to the problems which the government perceived will be examined in depth. A key component of the course will be to place the developments in a wider context, for example, in terms of changes in landownership in Scotland and Britain, the relationship between the Highland land issue, party ideology and Westminster Politics, or the development of policy in other areas of the British Isles, e.g. Ireland or Wales.


Leisure and Society in Britain c.1780-1939 (ESH)



This course is taught through 18 1.5 hour lectures and 16 1.5 hour tutorial sessions. The course seeks to examine developments in leisure, in particular changes and continuities in the extent of free time and the manner in which it was utilised. Such changes were conditioned by broader economic, social and cultural influences. The relationship between these various forces are examined here within a British context. Covering the period from the onset of industrialisation to the outbreak of the Second World War, the course also uses leisure as a way into examining many of the forces shaping society in a period of unprecedented change. Particular attention is paid to the impact of class, age, and gender, along with distinctions based on regional and national identities. In the First Semester, these themes are examined in the context of the transition from an outwardly 'traditional' recreational calendar, marked by local diversity and informed by notions of 'custom', to a recognisably 'modern' leisure culture, drawing on bureaucratic and commercial forms of organisation. During the Second semester, particular aspects of the emergent leisure industry will be analysed, alongside the study of more informal recreational pursuits, locating leisure more firmly within the everyday culture of family and neighbourhood.


Origins and Diplomacy of the Second World War 1919-1945 (H)

Tue 4.10-6.00

The course begins with the peace settlement of 1919. It discusses the concept of an 'interwar crisis', including the linkages between unresolved disputes between states, the growing conviction that the Great War had solved nothing, economic malaise and social unrest in Europe. Within this context it treats the attempts of French, German and British leaders during the 1920s to fashion an international order that would not result in another war. It examines Nazi views on foreign policy as a preliminary to the discussion of the Nazi regime's war preparations in the 1930s in rearmament and social and psychological preparation of the nation for war. The reactions of other states to the Third Reich are then considered, with a special emphasis on the British policy of appeasement. Attention then focuses on the international ambitions of Italian Fascism, the situation in the Far East, including the reasons why Japan was increasingly discontented, and the reasons why the superpowers of the post-1945 world, the Soviet Union and the United States, were of only limited importance in the international constellation before 1939. Then follows an analysis of international relations between 1933 and 1941 which becomes steadily more detailed as it builds up to the start of the war in Europe in 1939 and its broadening into world war between 1939 and 1941. In its later phase, the course concentrates on the international relations of a world at war, including the formation of the Grand Alliance of Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. It concludes with the war in the Far East, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan.


The European Witch-Hunt (SH)


The age of the Renaissance and Reformation was also the age in which many people throughout Europe, Catholic and Protestant, became convinced that society was threatened by conspiracies of witches. Thousands of people, mostly lower-class women, were executed. The course delves into intellectual, cultural and social history to explain how this happened, and why. The two central sections of the course are 'Why believe in witches?' and 'Why hunt witches?'. Witch-belief was an essential precondition of witch-hunting and has to be explained; yet witch-hunting had its own dynamics, for plenty of people believed in witches but did not hunt them. The course incorporates a regional survey of how patterns of witch-hunting varied from country to country, including not only Europe but European colonies in America. There is a more detailed case-study of one fairly typical country-Scotland. The final section discusses how witch-hunting came to an end, and what happened to witch-beliefs afterwards.


The Northern Renaissance

Burgundian Court & Civic Culture

in the Low Countries c.1430-1520 (H)

Mon 2.00-3.50

The legendary splendour of the Burgundian court was the talk of Europe in the fifteenth century and has been the subject of contradictory opinions ever since. To Huizinga its spectacles, feasts, tournaments and entry ceremonies represented the decadent end to a declining Middle Ages. More recent historians have characterized it as a period of cultural florescence - artistic and musical - to rival the 'Renaissance' in Italy. Still others have seen the dukes of Burgundy intent on creating a 'theatre-state' which hid a brutal drive to autocratic centralisation. All these issues will be examined in this course, and with particular attention to the political and ceremonial relationship between the Burgundian dukes (and their Hapsburg successors) with the cities they ruled. The region of the Low Countries was one of the most highly urbanized and vibrant regions of Europe: the cultural and religious life it generated (its processions and rituals; the Devotio Moderna and the Christian Humanism of Erasmus) are looked at in detail.


The Norman Conquest of England (H)

Mon 2.00-3.50

The course will deal with the history of England and Normandy between c. 1042 and 1087, and it will be organised round four themes: first (laying the groundwork for the following weeks), political history considered through the principal narrative texts: the politics of King Edward's reign, the issue of the royal succession, the events of 1066, northern society, conquest, colonisation and revolt, King William's last years. Secondly, kingship and government are explored: royal rights and resources, the sheriffs, law and justice. Thirdly, centring on a study of Domesday Book, society and social change is considered. The fourth and last major theme is that of the Church. Ecclesiastical organisation, monastic life and piety and the changes after 1066 are considered.


The Rights in U.S. Politics since 1945 (H)


The course is an investigation of political conservatism in the United States between the end of World War Two and the end of the twentieth century. It analyses the activities of the Republican party in power and in pursuit of power. The course also looks at works of conservative political thought, grass-roots movements of the Right, and racial conservatism.


The United States in Vietnam: History and Consequences (H)


This course analyzes U.S. involvement in Vietnam from the early stages after World War II to the eventual withdrawal of American forces in 1973 and the ultimate collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. In addition to elucidating the perceptions and motives that led the United States into the "quagmire" and the key events of the conflict, the course focuses on the impact of this crucial period of the Cold War on American society, politics, and culture (wherever appropriate, key novels will serve as additional source material). Finally, we will also discuss the changing perceptions of the war and the historiographical controversies surrounding it to achieve a deeper understanding of the long-term impact of the war on American attitudes towards war and peace.


Venice c.1400 –c.1700 (H)

Tue 2.00-3.50

An exercise in 'total history' examining the environmental, economic, social, religious, political and cultural life of the Venetian Republic in the early modern period.


Women in England 1300-1700 (H)


The course is an investigation of the lives of women in England from 1300 to 1700, paying attention to differences of life-cycle stage and social status. In particular it will evaluate chronological change and consider the problems of different types of source material. Themes it will cover include the law, work, marriage, education and religion.


Youth and Modernity c.1780-1970 (ESH)


This course examines the ways in which youth and shifting concepts associated with it (such as childhood, adolescence and the phenomenon of the teenager) has been interpreted and experienced within western culture since the Enlightenment. The course focuses primarily on Britain but also explores the wider global contexts of empire, migration, war in Europe and americanisation; the British experience is compared and contrasted with that of other locations. Claims that the idea of childhood has been crucial to the development of modern welfare states and to modern concepts of identity, sexuality and selfhood will be investigated. Topics covered include the discovery of childhood and adolescence; fictional representations of youth; debates relating to sexuality; experiences of work, school, family, child poverty and migration; health, welfare and psychology; leisure and popular culture; evacuation and the disruption of wartime; juvenile delinquency, the teenager and youth subculture.

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