Modern Britain

The History of Britain from the Civil War to the Present

History 3xx.01, Xxx Carr Building, Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Robert Penner, xxx CarrBuilding, 555-5555,

In the course we will be studying the history of Britain from the Act of Union with Scotland (1707) until the present. It is such a long span of time we cannot hope to comprehensive in our approach so our approach will be thematic. Our broadest theme will be history of Britain as an imperial power. We will be trying to understand the processes that have transformed the British archipelago from a collection of little islands in the North Atlantic, into an Empire that spanned the globe, and finally into a post-colonial nation state. For each century we study we will also select another theme, or category of analysis, with which to focus our reading and thinking on what it means to be British. In the 17th century we will use “religion,” in the 18 th “gender,” in the 19th “class,” and in the 20th “race.” Each of these course sections course will have a movie, a book, a collection of articles, and some primary texts assigned to it.

We will not be using a generic text book but if you need one for reference I recommend The Four Nations: A History of the United Kingdom (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003) by Frank Welsh. It is what I will be using. There is a copy on reserve in the library. The following texts are required reading for this course:

We have two classes a week. The first class, the Tuesday, will be a lecture on the weekly topic, the second will be comprised of a discussion of our primary and secondary sources for the week and a portion of the section movie.

Your grade will be determined by your performance on four equally weighted take-home tests, one for each of our sections (4x20%=80%), and a class participation mark (20%). The tests will be comprised of five long-answer questions on the readings, lectures, discussions and movie, four of which you will be expected to answer. The participation mark will be based on attendance and discussion contributions. If you suffer from crippling shyness I understand this may present difficulties for you, if you simply cannot talk in public please come to see me and we will find another way for you to contribute.

Class Outline and Weekly Readings

The Seventeenth Century: Uniting the Kingdom
Religion and British Identity

Section Textbook: Robert Armstrong, Protestant War: The British of Ireland and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

Section Movie: Restoration (1995)

Week 1: England and the British Isles in the Seventeenth Century

Primary Source: Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Ireland and selections from The Faerie Queen.

Secondary Source: Nicholas Canny, “The Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America,” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Oct., 1973), pp. 575-598

Week 2: Civil War or Revolution?

Primary Source: Selections from Keith Lindley, The English Civil War and Revolution: A Source Book (1998)

Secondary Source: Mary Fulbrook, “The English Revolution and the Revisionist Revolt,” Social History, Vol. 7, No. 3, (1982)

Week 3: Religion and Politics in the Seventeenth Century

Primary Source: Selections from Milton’s Paradise Lost and his The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a FreeCommonwealth.

Secondary Sources: Nicholas McDowell, “Ideas of Creation in the Writings of Richard Overton the Leveller and “Paradise Lost,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan., 2005), pp. 59-78; Hannah Smith, “ The Idea of a Protestant Monarchy in Britain 1714–1760,” Past and Present, 2004 185: 91-118

The Eighteenth Century: Atlantic Britain
Gender and British Identity

Section Textbook: Dror Wahrmann, The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century England (1998)

Section Movie: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1996)

Week 4: Gender and Society in the Eighteenth-Century

Primary Sources: Selections from Samuel Richardson,Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, and John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.

Secondary Sources: Tim Hitchcock , “Redefining Sex in Eighteenth-Century England,” History Workshop Journal , No. 41 (Spring, 1996), pp. 72-90; Sarah Lloyd, 'Pleasure's Golden Bait': Prostitution, Poverty and the Magdalen Hospital in Eighteenth-Century London,” History Workshop Journal , No. 41 (Spring, 1996), pp. 50-70

Week 5: Gender and Economics in the Eighteenth-Century

Primary Sources: selections from J.P. Malcolm, Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London during the Eighteenth Century.

Secondary Sources: Dana Harrington, “Gender, Commerce, and the Transformation of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly , Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer, 2001), pp. 33-52; Charlotte Sussman, “Women and the Politics of Sugar, 1792,” Representations , No. 48 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 48-69; Maxine Berg, “In Pursuit of Luxury: Global History and British Consumer Goods in the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present , No. 182 (Feb., 2004), pp. 85-142

Week 6: Gender and Politics in the Eighteenth Century

Primary Source: Selections from Hannah Moore, Cheap Repository Tracts, and Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Secondary Sources: Kevin Gilmartin,, “‘Study to Be Quiet’: Hannah More and the Invention of Conservative Culture in Britain ,” ELH , Vol. 70, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 493-540; Anne K. Mellorm, “Sex, Violence, and Slavery: Blake and Wollstonecraft,” The Huntington Library Quarterly , Vol. 58, No. 3/4, William Blake: Images and Texts (1995), pp. 345-370; Linda H. Peterson, “From French Revolution to English Reform: Hannah More, Harriet Martineau, and the "Little Book,"” Nineteenth-Century Literature , Vol. 60, No. 4 (Mar., 2006), pp. 409-450

The Nineteenth Century: Imperial Britain
Class and British Identity

Section Textbook: Catherine Hall, Keith McClelland and Jane Rendall, Defining the Victorian nation: Class, Race, and the Reform Act of 1867 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2000)

Section Movie: Topsy-Turvey

Week 7: The Making of the Working Class

Primary Source: Selections from William Cobbett,Cobbett’s Political Register, and Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, Dorothy Thompson, Early Chartists.

Secondary Sources: Richard Price,Review: Languages of Revisionism: Historians and Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” Journal of Social History , Vol. 30, No. 1 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 229-251; Humphrey Southall , “Agitate! Agitate! Organize! Political Travellers and the Construction of a National Politics, 1839-1880,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers , New Series, Vol. 21, No. 1 (1996), pp. 177-193; Miles Taylor, “Rethinking the Chartists: Searching for Synthesis in the Historiography of Chartism,” The Historical Journal , vol. 39, no. 2 (June 1996), p. 479-495; E.P. Thompson, “Introduction” The Making of the English Working Class, (Penguin, 1968)

Week 8: The Making of the Middle Class

Primary Source: Selections from Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, and Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford and Wives and Daughters.

Secondary Sources: Catherine Hall, 'The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-maker: the shop and the family in the Industrial Revolution' in White, Male and Middle Class: Explorations in Feminism and History (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), chap. 3, (75-93); chap. 5; 108-123; M. S. Hickox, “The English Middle-Class Debate,” The British Journal of Sociology , Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 311-324; Elizabeth Langland, “Nobody's Angels: Domestic Ideology and Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Novel,” PMLA , Vol. 107, No. 2 (Mar., 1992), pp. 290-304

Week 9: High Imperialism

Primary Source: Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,”

Secondary Sources: John Darwin, “Imperialism and the Victorians: the Dynamics of Territorial Expansion,” English Historical Review, vol. 112, no. 447 (June 1997), pp. 614-642; Freda Harcourt, “Disreali’s Imperialism, 1866-1868: A Question of Timing,” Historical Journal 23, No. 1 (1980): 87-109; Stephen Heathorne, 'Let us remember that we, too, are English': Constructions of Citizenship and National Identity in English Elementary School Reading Books, 1880-1914', Victorian Studies , vol. 38, 3 (Spring, 1995), 395-427.

The Twentieth Century: Post-Colonial Britain
Race and British Identity

Section Text: Pail Gilroy, 'There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack': The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (1991)

Section Movie: My Beautiful Laundrette

Week 10: The World Wars

Primary Source: Selections from Oswald Mosley, My Life, selections from war time newspapers.

Secondary Sources : Dorothy Porter, “"Enemies of the Race": Biologism, Environmentalism, and Public Health in Edwardian England,” Victorian Studies , Vol. 34, No. 2 (Winter, 1991), pp. 159-178; Dan Stone, “The English Mistery, the BUF, and the Dilemmas of British Fascism,” The Journal of Modern History , Vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 336-358; Glenn R. Wilkinson, “‘The Blessings of War’: The Depiction of Military Force in Edwardian Newspapers,” Journal of Contemporary History , Vol. 33, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 97-115

Week 11: Decolonization

Primary Sources: Enoch Powell, “Rivers of Blood,” Linton Kwesi Johnson, “Inglan is a Bitch,” “Sonny’s Lettah.”

Secondary Sources : Wendy Webster, “"There'll Always Be an England": Representations of Colonial Wars and Immigration, 1948-1968,” The Journal of British Studies , Vol. 40, No. 4, At Home in the Empire (Oct., 2001), pp. 557-584. Bill Schwarz, "'The Only White Man in There': The Re-racialisation of England, 1956-1968," Race and Class 38 (1996): 65- 78; Chris Waters, "Dark Strangers" in Our Midst: Discourses of Race and Nation in Britain, 1947-1963 ,” The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, Twentieth-Century British Studies (Apr., 1997), pp. 207-238

Week 12: After the Cold War

Primary Source: Debate between Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Martin Amis and Terry Eagleton on British Muslims in the Independent.

Secondary Sources: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, “Distorted Mirrors,” in Imagining the New Britain, (Taylor & Francis, 2001) pp. 123-154; Paul Gilroy, “Frank Bruno or Salman Rushdie?” in Small Acts, Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture, (Serpent’s Tail, 1993) pp. 86-94; Kalpana Wilson, “Globalization and 'Muslim Belt': Reshaping of British Racism,” Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 28, No. 25 (Jun. 19, 1993), pp. 1288-1290 ,

Conclusions and Review

Week 13: A New Britain?