History second and third/final year undergraduate modules

Second year

Group Research

This module provides students with an exciting opportunity to work in groups to design and execute a collaborative research project. The aim is for students to gain experience in the process of historical inquiry and develop their research skills in a supportive environment in advance of individual work for dissertations. Students also benefit greatly from the opportunity to work in teams and coordinate their own projects effectively.  Students enthusiastically pursue a range of presentational methods and styles to convey their ideas and research. In many cases students choose to learn and utilise IT presentational packages to support their work. There is also a requirement for each student to submit an individual essay on their research. By the end of the module all students will have enhanced their presentational skills, their skills as historians, developed their interest in a particular field of history, and be able to demonstrate to future employers that they have experience of working collaboratively and making professionally acceptable oral presentations.

Students are permitted to choose a project from a wide range of choices - see below. They work in teams of approximately 4-6 students under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The tutor helps the students to embark on the project by providing initial ideas and reading, but the students are then free to design their own projects according to the enthusiasms and capacities of the group. All groups make extensive use of primary source evidence as well as reviewing the secondary literature on their topic.

  • Value: the Group Research module is worth 20 credits at second-year level and runs in the Autumn Term.        
  • Assessment: 25 minute group presentation and individual 2,500 word assessed essay (the assessments take place at the end of the Autumn Term).

THE FIRST CRUSADE AS SEEN BY CONTEMPORARIES

The First Crusade (1095–1099) was a major turning point in medieval history and inspired more contemporary historical writing than any other single event in the Middle Ages. In this group research topic students will have the opportunity to examine the rich and diverse narrative and documentary source material for the First Crusade and to address questions of fundamental importance to our understanding of the expedition’s ‘miraculous’ achievements. What (if anything) was ‘new’ about the First Crusade? Why did so many men and women decide to set out for the Holy Land in 1096? What factors contributed to the crusaders’ military achievements? How did the crusade affect relations between western Europe and the Byzantine Empire? Did contemporary Christians, Muslims and Jews differ in their understandings of the expedition’s origins and impact and, if so, why? 

THE MANY HEADED MONSTER, POPULAR UNREST IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE

The later medieval period in general and the 14th century in particular was a time of economic stress and social strain. Peasants and Labourers rebelled against their conditions locally and periodically before they revolted openly and on a much wider and dramatic scale in 1381. The later medieval period in general and the 14th century in particular was a time of economic stress and social strain. Peasants and Labourers rebelled against their conditions locally and periodically before they revolted openly and on a much wider and dramatic scale in 1381. Rebelling against authority was an extremely dangerous affair, participants would risk their lives and rebel leaders could face execution if they were caught.

Various sources give us some vivid insights into peasant and other popular risings in the medieval period. Most of the contemporary sources were very unsympathetic to peasants and their grievances. 

Topics and themes to consider may include: How can we get through the contemporary negative propaganda to the real peasant and labourer? Why did peasants risk like and limb to rebel against government and established authority? What were the aims of the rebels, what were they rebelling against and how did their society view them? By looking at the representation of the rebel in medieval society, can we also perhaps learn something about the representation of dissent, authority and official propaganda across the ages?

MAGNA CARTA

The events leading up to Magna Carta represented a serious challenge to royal authority. The fact that a king had to make concessions of this nature and in this form was indicative of a serious political crisis. The document itself contains a programme of political reform. It is often forgotten that this reform extended to the royal forests and led to a separate document, the Charter of the Forest. Students opting for this class will have a wide range of choices for their projects. Why was king John forced to make these concessions? Who were the rebel barons and what were their aims? Was Magna Carta a unique English phenomenon or was it part of a wider European development? Why were there different versions of Magna Carta? Why did the charters become such important documents in the thirteenth century and beyond? Students will be expected to study relevant source material in order to address these themes.

RICHARD III 

Few medieval English kings have caused so much controversy as Richard III. The succession to his brother, King Edward IV, was disputed and he is certain to have abused his role as protector, systematically removing all real or potential opponents, having himself crowned king in July 1483. His nephews, among them the successor to the throne, disappeared in the Tower of London. Faced with an ever greater opposition he was abandoned on the battlefield and killed in 1485 to be buried in a Franciscan friary. This was the end of the reign but as far as the monarch’s reputation was concerned, it was only the beginning of the history of King Richard III because this was written in the reign of his successor, Henry VII. 

Students will be given the opportunity to do biographical research on a famous and – at least due to the presentation – notorious English king. In addition there will be a chance to investigate the role played by the new dynasty in the creation of the image of Richard III decades later portrayed by Shakespeare. 

IMAGINED COMMUNITIES: TUDOR HISTORY ON FILM AND TV

Of all the periods in our history, the Tudor century has perhaps the firmest grasp upon the modern historical imagination and upon contemporary popular culture. From Booker-Prize- winning novels such as Wolf Hall to internet memes featuring Henry VIII, from popular history magazines to contemporary theatrical productions, the themes, stories, characters and events surrounding the Tudor dynasty still seem not only larger than life, but in many ways larger than history. This Group Research project will invite you to consider how and why sixteenth-century England has been (and is still) represented in certain ways in films and on television during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. You may focus on a particular media artefact; you may wish to take a comparative approach; or you can chart a particular theme or genre across multiple media portrayals. However you define your topic, this project is as much about how the past is represented as it is about the past itself. What is the value of historical drama, and can it ever ‘truly’ represent the past? As well as films and/or TV programmes, you will need to engage with primary sources and secondary literature on your chosen topic.

DOMESTIC SERVANTS AT WORK IN GEORGIAN ENGLAND

Conflict, revolution and resistance marked the Georgian period, shaping its political, economic and social landscapes. While conflict played out in national and international contexts, it also featured in much more localised contexts – Georgian homes. Small armies of servants worked away in British households lighting candles, making and mending textiles, nursing children, preparing meals and foodstuffs and endlessly cleaning numerous surfaces. Domestic servants (the majority of whom were women) made up one of the most significant and influential sections of the Georgian workforce. Rather than endure their work silently, domestic servants often grew tired and restless, voicing concerns and grievances in different ways. It was in homes that many individuals came to experience changing social and economic relationships at close quarters. By looking at the home, the work performed there and the arguments had, this project will allow you to explore the role domestic service played in the making of modern Britain. It will also introduce you to working with a range of different sources from court records and diaries to poetry and from objects and visual representations to correspondence. Alongside examining domestic service in historical contexts, students will also be encouraged to engage with contemporary debates on the global politics and economics of waged domestic work.

WORLDS OF THE FOUNDERS: REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA, 1750-1826

An Atlantic empire, a revolutionary republic; an eight-year war for independence, and a decades-long struggle for the destiny of the United States. The “Founding Fathers” have become semi-mythological figures in American culture, towering over this era of revolution. But what were their worlds really like? This group research project makes use of the enormous, searchable, online archive of founders' papers to investigate the social, intellectual, political, and cultural life of eighteenth and early-nineteenth century North America. It invites you to look beyond the founders themselves, learning to read against the grain, and using their writings to uncover new stories.

ROLL JORDAN ROLL: AMERICAN SLAVERY AND ITS SOURCES

By the outbreak of the American Civil War, the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery in the United States included nearly 400,000 slave-owners and around 4 million enslaved people. In December 2015 President Barack Obama commemorated the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment by reminding American citizens that ‘that the scars of our nation’s original sin are still with us today.’ In looking to grapple with the impact and legacy of American slavery, historians have utilised a diverse collection of material, ranging from slave owner diaries and slave memoirs to oral histories, folklore and spirituals. Such sources have helped to shape representations of slavery in popular culture such as Gone with the Wind, Roots and 12Years a Slave – representations which have become important educational and cultural sources in their own right.

This group research topic will allow you and your group to explore aspects of the significance and legacy of slavery in the United States by focusing on primary sources such as planter diaries, slave narratives, US census records, abolitionist jewellery and medallions, political cartoons, black spirituals, African American folklore, and film. Your project could take you in numerous possible directions, such as using slave testimony to compare the enslaved experience in different areas of the South, or tracking the changing cinematic representation of slavery over time. Depending on your group’s choice of sources, you will develop a clearer understanding of themes such as slave culture and folklore, religion, community networks, and resistance to slavery as an institution. 

BIG CITY STREET LIFE IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND

Streets were as vital a part of the Victorian city, as were people and buildings. Not only thoroughfares, they were also places of residence, work and leisure. Quickened through those who lived and worked in them, they ranged from Paris-style boulevards to long upper working-class terraces, and from bastions of middle-class respectability to short and narrow back streets in and around the city centre where they became an embodiment of local kinship networks and matriarchal influence. We shall study Victorian street life using appropriate Birmingham case studies.

THE BRITISH INFANTRY OFFICER ON THE WESTERN FRONT 1914-18 

When the Great War broke out in August 1914 there were fewer than 10,000 Regular infantry officers serving with the British Army. By the end of the war the Army had 67,000 infantry officers, composed of Regulars, Territorials, and the famous ‘Temporary Gentlemen’ who responded to Kitchener’s call to arms in 1914 and 1915. The experience of the infantry officer on the Western Front has been obscured, rather than illuminated, by the disproportionate influence of a handful of famous memoirs, most importantly perhaps Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That (1929) and Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930).

In truth little is known about the majority of infantry officers. Numerous questions offer themselves for research and analysis.  What happened to the cadre of Regular infantry officers with which the British Army began the war? How was the officer corps expanded? How were officers selected, trained and promoted?  What sort of men became ‘wartime’ officers? What were their casualty rates?  What did infantry officers actually do (other than writing sonnets in some waterlogged shell hole in No Man’s Land)?  Were they any good (as soldiers, that is, not poets)? What were the long-term effects of the survivors’ war experience? Answers to these questions may be found in a much wider search of the memoir literature, in the Army List for the war period and in officers’ personal files in the National Archives: Public Record Office at Kew. The project will lend itself to the study of the officers of a particular battalion (with c.1,000 to choose from!). 

BRITAIN AND DRUGS IN THE ERA OF TOTAL WAR 

This topic affords the opportunity to explore both the military and civilian use of psychoactives in Britain in the era of the two World Wars, including the operational, political, social and ethical responses to drugs. Potential approaches could consider the use of amphetamines in the context of Britain’s armed forces during the Second World War, including use in the land, maritime and air power environments. This could also include a comparison with German and American amphetamine use.

An examination of drug use in the First World War is another possibility, examining how military personnel utilised drugs – including cocaine, alcohol and tobacco – to endure and manage the experience of combat. The topic can also include a more general focus on oral history, the experience of drug use and issues relating to masculinities. Linking out to the wider contexts, other approaches could study the narratives around drug use as captured by the medical and lay press in interwar Britain and government attempts to legislate and control access to drugs, including the implications of the Defence of the Realm Act, the Dangerous Drugs Acts and the Pharmacy and Poisons Act. 

While drawing on some fascinating secondary literature and autobiographical material, primary sources include material available via the National Archives at Kew, via the Imperial War Museum and via numerous online repositories. 

A CARTHAGINIAN PEACE? :THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES AND ITS AFTERMATH

After the Napoleonic War Europe avoided another general conflagration for the best part of a century. Since World War a series of alliances, and international treaties has had a comparable restraining effect. The agreements that formally ended the first World War, of which Versailles was the most famous, were crowned with no such success. Historians continue to debate whether this treaty made further conflict inevitable or whether it was a fair settlement and the problem was in the execution. But in the process they are merely echoing disagreements among contemporaries. A British Treasury official, J.M. Keynes (later a famous economist) wrote a book in 1919 arguing the harsh economic and political terms imposed on Germany would lead to further conflict. This work was hugely influential in Britain and America and arguably encouraged their respective Governments to distance themselves from the Versailles provision. The French critic, Étienne Mantoux, argued that the result was to fatefully weaken allied resolve to impose a harsh peace on Germany and encouraged German nationalism

With this topic student groups will be able to choose a theme arising from the post-World War I settlement (taking this on into the 1920s if they so wish) and study it in depth. There are plenty of contemporary writings, official publications, Cabinet papers, newspaper articles, diaries, and speeches that have a bearing on the subject (most materials are readily accessible in the main library). There are also plenty of themes to choose from.

ENGLISH CRICKET BETWEEN THE WARS

This course is about the history as cricket as part of the social, cultural and political history of Interwar Britain. Possible topics would explore cricket and class, in relation to themes such as Gentlemen v Players, amateurs and professionals, and public school and working class cricket; or look at how cricket shaped social and cultural identities, in terms of local and regional loyalties, North v South and expressions of Englishness; or explore cricket and notions of honour, masculinity and heroism. There is also the possibility of investigating tie ups with contemporary politics, particularly in the infamous ‘Bodyline’ tour of Australia in 1932-3. A wide range of primary sources is available for this course, ranging from the records of local and county clubs, to cricket autobiographies and novels, newspaper coverage and the two standard reference works, Wisden and The Cricketer magazine. Students can research a wide range of topics of their choosing.

HURRAH FOR THE BLACK SHIRTS

In May 1930 Oswald Mosley resigned as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and abandoned mainstream politics (he had previously served as an MP for both the Conservative and Labour parties) to launch the New Party. This new organisation survived for barely eighteen months, and after suffering a political humiliation in the 1931 general election Mosley wound up the New Party and – inspired by the example of Benito Mussolini – relaunched it as the British Union of Fascists. Never able to attract the mass membership of fascist movements in Europe, and often written off as a historical sideshow, the British Union of Fascists could nevertheless claim pockets of extremely vigorous support. At its peak the organisation claimed to have a membership in excess of fifty thousand, and had a number of high-profile supporters in the aristocracy and the media – most famously the proprietor of the Daily Mail, the 1st Viscount Rothermere, whose infamous editorial gives this module its title. This module will examine the history of British fascism from a number of different angles, exploring its origins and its links with its continental counterparts, its ideology and political economy, and its legacies for postwar British politics. As well as drawing on a substantial secondary literature and a range of biographical studies, this module will make use of the Oswald Mosley papers held in Special Collections at the University of Birmingham to provide a direct insight into the world of British fascism. 

THE DESERT WAR IN NORTH AFRICA 1940-1943

The Desert War in North Africa during the Second World War became a momentous struggle between the Axis forces, led by the legendary 'Desert Fox', Erwin Rommel, and the British Imperial and Commonwealth forces led successively by General Sir Archibald Wavell, General Sir Claude Auchinleck and General (later Field Marshal) Bernard Montgomery ('Monty'). The nature of the terrain, the overbearing heat and the remoteness from the main theatre of war in Europe presented challenges for both sides to overcome. Logistics and Intelligence played important roles which, in combination with the survival of Malta,'the thorn in Rommel's side', led ultimately to Allied victory. Previous group presentations have included the first battle of El Alamein, the Desert War from the Axis perspective, Malta's role, the part played by logistics, the role of leadership, Operation Torch, a comparison of war in the desert and war on the Eastern Front and the American contribution. Students will be expected to undertake some archival research at The National Archives in London.

BUILDING A BETTER BIRMINGHAM: THE CITY AND ITS DEVELOPMENT: 1945-1980 

The period during and just after the 2nd world war saw the City of Birmingham grow to its maximum extent in terms of population (1.1 million).  These years also offered enormous opportunities to redevelop the city as the Town and Country Planning Acts gave local authorities enhanced powers to reshape and reorder their local environments in terms of housing, transport, shopping and other activities. Moreover, Birmingham’s place within the wider West Midland region came under growing scrutiny. First, problems of expansion led to attempts to disperse population into the surrounding shire counties and then later, as the inner-city area began to lose population and de-industrialise, urban decay had to be confronted. This Group research project will give students the opportunity to consider how the City of Birmingham faced these various challenges and why some were met more successfully than others. Certain decisions taken during and after the war on town planning and greenbelts helped to shape Birmingham’s development down to the present day. Other decisions are now felt to be seriously misguided and have either been modified or completely reversed (something reflected in the ongoing redevelopment of the City Centre). There is a wealth of material available on the post-war redevelopment of Birmingham particularly in the Central Library which houses the records of the City Council and many other local organisations and individuals (e.g. the papers of Sir Herbert Manzoni, the Civil Engineer most associated with the post-war redevelopment of the City). The University of Birmingham Special Collections holds the papers of the West Midland Group on Post-War Reconstruction. There is also a large volume of secondary material at both repositories that provides a basis for developing particular themes. E.g. newspapers like the Birmingham Post and Mail are always useful. The Times might come in handy too to give a national perspective on the City.

GRAFFITI AND STREET ART IN THE MODERN WORLD

Graffiti broadly means any writing or drawing on a wall or other surface in a public place, which, some say, should not be there. While most cultures knew some form of graffiti or another, in the modern world it came to mean a specific expressive practice used as social commentary, a form of protest, or to express particular group identity. In this modern sense, urban graffiti writing sometimes marks a territory and/or belonging to a particular urban subculture, at other times expresses a particular grievance, contesting the status quo in society. Conventionally considered a form of vandalism, graffiti has been recently revalued as a form of art. In this sense, some forms of graffiti are labelled “street art” and used to advance the very forces of neoliberal capitalism it may have once opposed. All of these perspectives betray an arresting range of tensions over an expressive activity that this module seeks to explore. Students will build their own archive around a particular project of their choice. This “archive” includes the web, digital archives, and social media; published books; or the urban space around them, in Birmingham or elsewhere in Britain. They may chose to focus on graffiti cultures in a particular place or period, or they may take a comparative approach. They will be given diverse disciplinary tools (articles on graffiti from sociology, anthropology, art history, and urban studies) to approach their material from a range of angles. They will be encouraged to explore graffiti writing not as a static form (or visual text) but rather as a constantly evolving practice subject to competing forces, and to pay attention to historical time, transnational cultural flows and processes, and other forms of expression including music or the social media.

MULTICULTURAL BRITAIN: RACE, EMPIRE AND IMMIGRATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITAIN 

What does it mean to be British? How have ideas about Britishness changed over the twentieth century? This research module encourages students to examine the interactions between race, empire and immigration in twentieth century Britain. It will explore the ways in which colonial and racialised immigrants have experienced, contested and negotiated life in Britain. By rethinking the relationship between the imperial metropolis and the periphery, this module sets out to challenge the historical orthodoxy of Britain as an ethnically homogenous nation prior to 1948. It invites students to question popular and private representations of people, places and events that dominate the history of British imperial and immigration histories. Students will be able to engage with a range of historical sources, which include documentary evidence, personal testimony, life histories, and visual images.  

History in Theory and Practice

This module addresses questions to do with the nature of history and historical knowledge. Topics covered include issues in the philosophy of history (explanation, causality, objectivity etc.); the characteristics of different kinds of history and major trends in historiography. This is not a standard history module with a definite period/place focus, but a broader reflective module designed to aid independent thinking and reflection by students.

  • Value: 20 credits
  • Assessment: 2500 word essay; 2 hour exam 
  • Contact: 2 hours per week (inc. one small group)

Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation)

This module is designed to support students as they develop a topic on which to write their dissertation in your final year. It not only marks a crucial stage in their degree as a whole, but is also an important module in its own right. The Research Methods module will give students firsthand experience of the work of a historian as they learn to identify and frame a valid, intellectually coherent research question; identify, find and consider what primary sources they will use and how they will use them; consult with a specialist historian in whatever area it is they wish to work on; present their planned project to their peers; write a literature review that analyses what historians have made of the same subject, and start preliminary work on their dissertation proper by conducting two weeks’ worth of research.

  • Value: 20 credits
  • Contact: 2 hours per week (inc. one small group)

History in Public

This module provides students with the opportunity to reflect on what it has meant (and still means) to do history in public, from the medieval world to the present day. It explores how the process of turning the past into history has been shaped by the competing demands of politics and profit, education and entertainment, nation-building and self-fashioning. Ranging across periods and places, it moves beyond chronicles and academic histories to consider the many ways in which history has been made in public. Films, folk tales, and family trees, music, museum exhibitions, and personal memories, rituals and performance, pedagogy and printing will analysed to this end.

  • Value: 20 credits 
  • Assessments: A portfolio consisting of 2 x 500 word blogs (17%) and 1 x 1500-word assignment (33%) and 1 x group output published on the History in Public website (33%) equivalent to 1500 words per student and 1 x 1000 word individual self-reflexive assignment (17%)

*Professional Skills Module

This is a work placement module involving a minimum of 20 days in a work environment in the type of organisation or business sector to which history students might apply after graduation. It would provide an opportunity for a student to develop transferable skills such as team work, problem solving, and presentational skills and give them an opportunity to develop skills of self-reflection.

* Please note: places are limited on this module

Optional modules

History Option A (Autumn semester)

History autumn options (20 credits) are assessed by 2 equally-weighted essays of 2500 words each, one due in around the middle of the Autumn term and the other at the start of the Spring term. You will have a total of 3 formal seminar-based contact hours per week, plus up to two weekly staff office hours for one-to-one consultation at your request.

TREASURE IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND

From the ship burial at Sutton Hoo to the Staffordshire Hoard, treasure forms a significant part of the surviving material culture of Anglo-Saxon England. Treasure also looms large in many of our written sources: the halls of Beowulf are filled with tales of noble warriors and their glittering weapons and Bede’s kings are gift-givers, distributing plunder to their followers and bestowing costly plate on religious communities. 

In this module we will look at different types of treasure – physical artefacts as well as descriptions and depictions of valuable items – to explore the ways in which value attaches to objects. Some media, particularly gold and silver, were more valuable than others, a distinction preserved and perpetuated in the Treasure Act (1996). But whilst all that glittered was not gold, value could also attach to everyday objects: old clothing or drinking vessels took on additional significance if they had belonged to a saint, and pieces of the saints themselves – relics – were fought over, sometimes literally. Other items might become more valuable in particular contexts, through scarcity or changes in fashion; they could also gain additional significance from their provenance or association with important figures. 

We will also look at the different ways in which treasure was acquired and deposited, and what these methods can tell us about broader economic trends and processes of exchange and economic stability. Valuable items could be acquired through commerce as well as gift- giving; they might be deliberately deposited or passed on as part of a particular ritual, or lost through accident or theft. 

CRUSADING AND CRUSADER KINGDOMS 

Few aspects of medieval history appear to have more contemporary resonance than the crusades, the so-called ‘wars of the cross’ that were fought by western Christians against a range of adversaries, including Muslims, pagans, heretics and Mongols. In this module we will examine the origins and development of the crusading ideal in the central Middle Ages, from its formation in the late eleventh century through to its evolution and diversification in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Where appropriate, we will also study the nature of the frontier societies that were created by crusaders in the eastern Mediterranean, the Iberian peninsula and north-eastern Europe, and assess the impact that crusading had on the lives and mentalities of western Europeans in general.

CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE 

This course will explore the lives of young people in Medieval Society from ca. 1100 to 1500 focusing on western Europe with a special emphasis on England. A society’s culture and a myriad of attitudes are revealed in the way it deals with its children and adolescents. In this course we will look at the way historians have examined childhood and explore and test the argument made by some that there was no real concept of childhood in medieval Europe. In individual seminars we will explore various aspects of the lives of children, starting with pregnancy and birth over early childhood and infancy to adolescence and family formation, which usually occurred in the later teenage years. What was it like to grow up in a medieval city like London? How would the experiences of boys and girls growing up in noble households have differed from those growing up in villages or towns? What did young people learn and how were they viewed by adults? We will also look at questions of socialisation and gender roles, so in what ways did experiences of girls and boys differ, what kind of schooling did children receive, if any? The period covered saw some important and sweeping social and economic changes, so how did the Black Death impact on families? We will look at a whole range of primary sources, from poems to legal records to archaeological finds. 

NUNS, MONKS AND FRIARS: THE HISTORY OF MONASTERIES AND RELIGIOUS ORDERS IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The course will provide a survey of the forms of life and the institutions developed by women and men who decided to leave the world and devote their lives to divine service in the middle ages. It will offer a survey of the early forms of medieval monasticism, phases of monastic decline and attempts of reform, contrasting ideal and reality. The focus will be on important features like Carolingian monasticism, Cluny and the revival in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the role of the eremitical life, the religious orders of the twelfth century and the mendicant orders. This chronological survey will be followed by an analytical part which will deal with structural issues like the foundation of religious houses, rules, the monastic economy, the cultural significance of monasteries and religious orders, the monastic economy and the secular environment.

TOLERATION AND PERSECUTION IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE

In the early modern period being tolerant it was ‘a loser’s creed’. Why should we put up with something we hate when we have the power to persecute and eradicate it? The tension between the urge to persecute and the necessity to tolerate affected early modern Europe at all levels of society and in many different guises. Discourses about toleration and persecution centered on the treatment of religious dissenters such as heretics of various kinds or non-Christians. Equally, the question of what to do with other undesirables (the poor, unwed mothers or drunks) demanded a decision between the Christian imperatives of love and charity and the desire to purge the Christian community of sin. In this seminar, we are going to explore these tensions in a variety of contexts and explore the development of a modern value.

WITCHCRAFT IN THE EARLY-MODERN EUROPE

This course aims to give students an understanding of the causes and courses of witch- hunting in early modern Europe. It will consider the intellectual background of the witch- hunt; the relationship of witchcraft to the Protestant and Catholic reformations; the diverse and changing legal and judicial arrangements; literary and feminist theories are compared with readings inspired by anthropology and psychoanalysis. We will also focus upon the cultural and social context of the witch-hunts: issues such as the high proportion of women who were accused and executed will be addressed. The literature of witchcraft is diverse and methodologically sophisticated. There are many conflicting interpretations, and many different approaches. Students will be introduced to these approaches, and encouraged to engage with them critically. Students will also be introduced to primary source material from a wide geographical area, and a variety of genres, and encouraged to analyse these carefully.

MILITARY REVOLUTIONS AND THE CONDUCT OF WAR, c1300 - 1650

This module provides an opportunity to study the military, political, social and cultural history of warfare in Europe from the Hundred Years War to the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War. The main questions explored will relate to the way in which technical developments, such as the introduction of gunpowder weapons and new style fortifications, affected the conduct of battles and warfare, and whether these changes constituted a series of ‘Military Revolutions’. But it will also investigate the social and economic effects of warfare, particularly for civilian populations, the political implications of larger and more complex armies, and the impact of chivalry and ideals of masculinity on the psychology and sociology of combat, Students will analyse and study these themes using primary source accounts of combat and military ideals as well as a rich literature of secondary works.

JOHN BULL AGAINST NAPOLEON: FIGHTING THE FRENCH, 1973 -1815

Between 1793 and 1815, Britain and France were locked together in a struggle for survival, a series of wars of a savagery neither country had known before. In this module we will study how Britain fought these wars: how the country crafted a new sense of nationhood to mobilise her people; how both economy and industry were organised to produce the money, men and ships needed; how strategy was formulated and used skilful diplomacy and military force finally to help defeat and overthrow the genius that was Napoleon. If you're interested in warfare, the Anglo-French relationship, European politics and/or the roots of modern Britain, this module is for you.

TOTALITARIAN EUROPE: NAZI GERMANY, FASCIST ITALY AND STALINIST RUSSIA 

Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia from the 1930s onwards attracted study, as regimes which  though deeply divided  on ideology  seemed to  share strikingly similar characteristics. These features were seen as embodying an entirely new form of political rule defined as totalitarian. Totalitarianism as a concept experienced a huge growth in the period after 1945. In the 1970s the concept came under attack. The module examines the development of this concept, its strengths and weaknesses, and seeks to determine how far the concept remains valid and how far it may need to be revised if not rejected completely.  It introduces students to the history of National  Socialism, Fascism and Stalinism. 

Themes to be considered include the factors which facilitated the rise of these regimes to power; their method of governance; ideology; their economic system; charismatic leadership; institutions of terror; foreign expansion and the role of war; class, gender and race, social exclusion and the treatment of the ‘other’. The course looks at alternative ways of examining these states; the management of discourse, identity formation and the aestheticisation of power; the nature of the ‘public sphere’, popular opinion, and issues of regime legitimacy. It explores alternative ways of conceptualising these systems; as regimes of authoritarian modernization and as political religions. 

WHY WE HATE POLITICS: SOCIAL ACTIVISM IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN 

This module explores the history of activism and politics in contemporary Britain. There is now a widespread view that the British public has become apathetic about politics and democracy since the Second World War, as indicated by falling voter turnout at elections, and declining membership numbers of the main political parties. However, in the same period, British citizens have also increasingly supported, joined and engaged in a wide variety of new social movements and single-issue non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which campaign on issues as diverse as the environment, sexuality, human rights, and homelessness. This module explores why this has happened; how the engagement of British citizens in social issues has evolved over time; and the broader historical forces this all reflects. In the process, this module offers a fresh interpretation of activism, politics and political engagement in post-war Britain, by focusing upon many different case studies of activism. These include: efforts to tackle domestic poverty and homelessness; international aid and humanitarianism; women's liberation and feminism; the peace and anti-war movement; human rights and civil liberties; environmentalism; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender campaigning; and race and lifestyle politics. 

MODERNITY IN THE GREEN: THE HISTORY OF GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTALISM 

Environmentalism is all around us. It makes a difference for the water we drink and the food we eat, it shapes our ideas about the good life and the future of the world. Environmentalism is a body of ideas, a social movement, a field of policy and a cultural current, and this chameleon-like character has made its exploration one of the most dynamic fields of historical research. The module covers a broad range of topics from conservation to climate change and explores different paths towards their history. The geographic scope is global, and the module makes a special effort to look into the differences between environmentalism in Western affluent societies and environmentalism in the Global South.

 

History Option B (Spring semester)

History spring options (20 credits) are assessed by a three hour exam held during the Summer term. You will have a total of 3 formal seminar-based contact hours per week, plus up to two weekly staff office hours for one-to-one consultation at your request.

REPRODUCTION AND THE SELF: GENDER, FAMILY AND SEXUALITY IN THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES 

This module explores changes and continuities in the relationship between production and reproduction in the period between the collapse of the Empire in the West in the fifth century to the transformations of the year 1000. We will examine the ways in which families could be created (through marriage, adoption, fostering, amongst other methods) and regulated (in terms of size, shape and membership), how changes in tenure and inheritance customs affected relations within families, and the opportunities for opting out of family structures or creating alternative structures (such as same-sex unions). We will also look at roles and expectations for individual men and women, the ways in which masculinity and femininity were performed, and the points at which such roles and expectations were questioned. Finally we will explore ideas surrounding sexuality: was sexuality seen as a question of identity, or a question of practice? This module will draw on a broad range of primary sources, from normative texts such as penitentials and lawcodes to narrative sources including saints’ lives, poetry and biography; we will also draw on visual sources and on archaeological material such as grave goods.

CRUSADING AND CRUSADER KINGDOMS 

Few aspects of medieval history appear to have more contemporary resonance than the crusades, the so-called ‘wars of the cross’ that were fought by western Christians against a range of adversaries, including Muslims, pagans, heretics and Mongols. In this module we will examine the origins and development of the crusading ideal in the central Middle Ages, from its formation in the late eleventh century through to its evolution and diversification in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Where appropriate, we will also study the nature of the frontier societies that were created by crusaders in the eastern Mediterranean, the Iberian peninsula and north-eastern Europe, and assess the impact that crusading had on the lives and mentalities of western Europeans in general.

CRIME AND PUBLIC ORDER IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE 

Every  society  has  to  cope  with  internal  conflict  as  well  as  with  external threats.  Such conflicts take different forms, individual criminal activity caused by poverty or an unwillingness to respect norms, mass violence which can arise from a dissolution of social structures as social protest or legally legitimate and organised violence in the context of external threats: war. These phenomena will be studied in their different contexts. There will also be an analysis of the mechanisms produced by medieval societies to deal with conflict and to combat crime and disorder. This will include a study of different types of norms (“laws”) and a survey of different legal mechanisms to preserve the peace.

A great variety of late medieval sources offer information on crime and disorder, on events, on their causes and on attempts to preserve peace. They include records from criminal trials which reveal bits of the medieval underworld and describe the procedures followed by the courts, normative sources like laws and statutes, records from towns with descriptions of unrest and spectacular criminal cases, books written by contemporary legal scholars trying to discuss legal and to define procedure as well as narrative sources giving accounts of popular rebellions and warfare. Apart from the extensive literature on the subject, extracts from such sources will also be consulted. 

REFORMATION AND REBELLION IN TUDOR ENGLAND, c1500-1558 

The sixteenth century was a defining period in English history.  Over the successive reigns of the Tudor monarchs, England was transformed from one of the most Catholic countries in Europe into a fully-fledged Protestant nation; from a remote Catholic backwater into a European Protestant superpower. But even for the Tudors, the process of reformation was a difficult one, wracked by covert dissent, outright rebellion, and military threats from overseas. This module will chart the turbulent course of religious change in sixteenth century England, from the persecution of heretics in the pre-reformation Church to Henry VIII’s break with Rome, from radical religious change under Edward VI to Mary I’s burning of almost 300 Protestant men and women, ending with the accession of Elizabeth I. Key moments of resistance will feature against a backdrop of political and religious turmoil, events which laid the foundations for the destiny of England and the English for centuries to come. We will also explore a wide range of primary sources, including liturgical texts, ballads, contemporary histories, plays, works of propaganda, state papers, woodcuts, and other printed and manuscript documents. 

EMBARRASSING BODIES 

In the early-modern world, understanding of the workings of the human body was not based on the findings of science, as it is today, but on a very different worldview that still drew on the beliefs of the ancient world and which often placed the morality of the patient at the heart of the explanation of sickness. What we today would call mental illness, for example, was in early-modern Europe often interpreted as an attack of Satan on a Christian or even a sign of demonic possession. Birth defects in newborn infants were seen as a sign from God or even a judgement on the parents as a result of the child having been conceived in what the Church regarded as any one of a large number of ‘incorrect’ sexual positions.  The Church too was at the heart of the provision of medical care, with treatment still largely in the hands of monastic and convent communities, while local ‘wise women’ could be drawn in to provide affordable cures: these same women were often those first to be accused of witchcraft when the cures failed to have the desired effect. Yet the early-modern period was also one of change: the Reformation led to the establishment of the first secular, ‘non-church’ hospitals more closely akin to what we might recognise today, and medical knowledge slowly began to focus more on observation and experimentation, as seen in the works of the great anatomist Vesalius (1514-64) and radical physician Paracelsus (1493-1541). This module will look at early-modern conceptions of the human body and human mind; it will look at particularly common illnesses, conditions and dangers of the day, including plague; and it will look at the wide range of cures and curers available in the context of changing approaches to medical knowledge and treatment. You will develop insights into an aspect of history that is not commonly-taught but which is both fascinating in its own right and casts light on broader topics such as the Reformation, witchcraft and gender history. 

SEX WORKERS, VAMPIRES, GYPSIES AND BANDITS: MARGINALITY IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 1500 – 1900 

The Ottoman Empire emerged in the early 1300s and lasted more than six centuries, finally dissolving after WWI. It spanned across a territory from Budapest to the Persian Gulf and Algiers to the Caucasus. Although it was an Islamic state, it encompassed a vast multitude of cultures, languages and religions. It occupied the space previously held by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, and its capital Constantinople/Istanbul, which continued its existence as an imperial city until the twentieth century.

The module aims to discuss various social groups which fell in the margins in the Ottoman Empire. The main theme of the module is boundaries, inclusion and exclusion, and the grey areas between established, mainstream ideas and concepts, and ‘taboo’, marginalised ones. As such, we will be looking at these groups in relation to ‘mainstream’ society, their functions, position and perceptions thereof.

There will be an opportunity to discuss these themes on a broader theoretical and comparative context, resulting in discussions of historiography and its treatment of marginal groups more widely. What does ‘marginal’ mean? How did contemporary and modern historians treat such groups? Each week we will have a different topic, and we will look at primary and secondary sources to underpin discussion and other tasks.

FOUNDATION OF MODERN BRITAIN, 1714-1815 

This survey course that examines the foundations of modern British economic and social relations in the period from c1714-c1815, a period that sees the beginnings of the so-called 'First Industrial Revolution'. This module focuses upon the nature and impact of “industrialisation” and the responses to economic and social transformation at all levels of society. It will introduce the student to the key features of the economy and social relations and why this period of British history is regarded as watershed globally as well as nationally. Consideration will be given to what is meant by the term ‘industrial revolution’ and the very usefulness of such a concept. There is a focus on elements of continuity as well as change for Britain in the period concerned. The use of primary historical sources within seminars is standard. 

THE GOOD WAR? A CULTURAL AND MILITARY HISTORY OF BRITAIN AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The Second World War is often called ‘the good war’ – a black and white conflict where good triumphed over evil. But was it? Can a war ever be cast in such simplistic terms? We will consider these questions, along with wider cultural, social, and military considerations in order to understand how British and Commonwealth participants (in the broadest sense of the word) experienced the Second World War and how they made sense of those experiences. While the module will consider some of the key campaigns of the Second World War, such as the Fall of Singapore, the Desert War, the Normandy campaign, and the war at air and at sea, this analysis will not be limited to a mere overview of the Allies’ campaigns in the war. Instead, it will position these operational campaigns within a broader context, and will include the cultural, ethical, industrial, sexual, and social aspects of war. We will explore whether there really was a ‘Blitz Spirit’ on the British home front, or whether the war served to exacerbate already existing tensions. We will also consider how Britain and the Allies won the war in a military sense. Was it through luck, through combat effectiveness and experience, or a combination of multiple factors? By using a variety of primary sources, including oral history, official papers, diaries, and letters, we will explore the experience and impact of the Second World War on Britain at home and overseas. 

TOTALITARIAN EUROPE: NAZI GERMANY, FASCIST ITALY AND STALINIST RUSSIA 

Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia from the 1930s onwards attracted study, as regimes which though deeply divided on ideology seemed to share strikingly similar characteristics. These features were seen as embodying an entirely new form of political rule defined as totalitarian. Totalitarianism as a concept experienced a huge growth in the period after 1945. In the 1970s the concept came under attack. The module examines the development of this concept, its strengths and weaknesses, and seeks to determine how far the concept remains valid and how far it may need to be revised if not rejected completely.  It  introduces  students  to  the  history  of  National  Socialism,  Fascism  and Stalinism. 

Themes to be considered include the factors which facilitated the rise of these regimes to power; their method of governance; ideology; their economic system; charismatic leadership; institutions of terror; foreign expansion and the role of war; class, gender and race, social exclusion and the treatment of the ‘other’. The course looks at alternative ways of examining these states; the management of discourse, identity formation and the aestheticisation of power; the nature of the ‘public sphere’, popular opinion, and issues of regime legitimacy. It explores alternative ways of conceptualising these systems; as regimes of authoritarian modernization and as political religions. 

MAKING OF MODERN INDIA, c.1885 - 1964 

This survey course will introduce students to the breadth and complexity of modern South Asian history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students will engage with how colonial domination and Indian responses to it in this period (c.1857-1947) created a mass based anti-colonial movement which depended upon the participation of subaltern groups like women, tribals and peasants. The aim is to familiarize students with the social and political history of the nationalist movement, which is essential for understanding the emergence of a post-colonial polity after 1947. Students will be introduced to a range of scholarly approaches with a particular focus on construction of communities based on religious, caste and gender normative identities. The transition from a political movement to a postcolonial polity (1947-64) – a fragile experiment in democracy, will provide for a thorough engagement with the complexities of South Asian history. This course should serve as the basis for engaging with the debates and significant themes which define the pluralistic experiment that is ‘Modern India’. 

NATIONALISM AND CONFLICT IN THE BALKANS AND THE MIDDLE EAST

The module aims to take students through an examination of: The transition from the Ottoman Empire to nations states by discussing the role of religion and  nationalism in the Balkans; The different forms of involvement of the western powers in both creating and resolving regional conflicts in the Balkans and the Middle East; The role of nationalism, colonialism and international diplomacy in the East Mediterranean by focusing     on the Greek-Turkish conflict and the Cyprus Question; The nationalist use of the past and its connections to issues of identity; The causes of conflict in the Modern Middle East and the inter-relationship between wars such as the Arab-Israeli wars and the resurrection of nationalism as a state tool in the Balkans during the 1990s. 

EUROPE: IDEAS, REALITIES, PERSPECTIVES 

On June 23, the British people will vote on membership in the European Union. Whatever the outcome, the referendum will not end British reflections about Europe, and historians can contribute a lot to this ongoing debate. Everything about Europe bears the imprint of the past: its borders, rules for conflict resolution, its identity (to the extent that it has one) and its relationship towards the rest of the world. This module offers a broad introduction to ideas and realities of Europe since the nineteenth century. It makes a special effort to untangle European integration after 1945: the complex overlaying of military, economic and sociocultural trends that shape our current engagement with the European Union. The module will also seek to bring British perspectives into a dialogue with views of other European nations from Finland to Greece. History cannot tell you how you should vote in June, but it can help you to understand what that vote means. 

OCCUPATION AND THE WAR ON TERROR IN IRAQ FROM ITS ORIGINS TO 2011: EXAMINING THE AMERICAN AND BRITISH INTERVENTION 

This Option examines the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the course of the occupation and war through its height in 2008, and the eventual American/British withdrawal by 2011.  In addition to examining the history of the war itself, including the rise of the insurgency to the Surge, it will place this war in its broader context in terms of American foreign policy in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf War, as well as the Global War on Terror initiated in the fall of 2001. This Option seeks to also examine the pre-history of this intervention, its connection to transformations in international politics as well as defence politics in the 1990’s, but also the deeper memory of war within various Western militaries in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Once we turn to the war and occupation itself we will not only examine the high politics of the conflict, but also the conflict as viewed from level of the small units fighting the war.  Though it will not be our primary focus, we will also pay attention to the dynamics of the insurgency itself and what proved so difficult for the military and policymakers to gain an understanding of it in order to defeat it.  Since this is a very contemporary history, we will use a wide variety of sources for this Option, from traditional historical sources (books / articles) to blogs to oral histories.  The Option will demand that you achieve a certain level of indifference to many of the current easy preconceptions surrounding the Iraq War in order to carry through a detached investigation of the conflict.

  

Third/Final year

History Advanced Option A - Autumn

History autumn advanced options are assessed by 2 equally-weighted essays of 2500 words each, one due in around the middle of the autumn term and the other at the start of the spring term. You will have a total of 3 formal seminar-based contact hours per week, plus up to two weekly staff office hours for one-to-one consultation at your request.

THE BLACK DEATH IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE, DISASTER, CHANGE AND RECOVERY 

What happened when the Black Death arrived in Europe? How did people react to the disease, and what impact did the Black Death have on society? We will explore the arrival of the Black Death, the manifestation of the disease, death rates and the resultant population decline. We will also explore how people in the 14th century tried to explain and make sense of the disease, so we will look at religious responses, including the movement of the flagellants, as well as scientific explanations. These include medieval ideas about how the disease spread, and how some authorities tried to enact regulations in attempts to halt the spread of the plague. We will then move on to exploring the various and multifaceted consequences of the plague on the men and women of the 14th century, including rising wages and changes in land values and resultant regulations of wages and labour contracts. We will explore whether women and men were affected differently by the post plague economic climate and we will also ask if later medieval revolts can be linked to the effects of the Black Death. These issues will be examined in the wider context of how historians have studied the Black Death and its effects. We will explore how medieval people felt about the plague and its effects through a variety of primary sources, including letters, chronicles and court records. 

MILITARY REVOLUTIONS AND THE CONDUCT OF WAR, C.1300-1650 

This module provides an opportunity to study the military, political, social and cultural history of warfare in Europe from the Hundred Years War to the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War. The main questions explored will relate to the way in which technical developments, such as the introduction of gunpowder weapons and new style fortifications, affected the conduct of battles and warfare, and whether these changes constituted a series of ‘Military Revolutions’. But it will also investigate the social and economic effects of warfare, particularly for civilian populations, the political implications of larger and more complex armies, and the impact of chivalry and ideals of masculinity on the psychology and sociology of combat, Students will analyse and study these themes using primary source accounts of combat and military ideals as well as a rich literature of secondary works. 

TOLERATION AND PERSECUTION IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE 

In the early modern period being tolerant it was ‘a loser’s creed’. Why should we put up with something we hate when we have the power to persecute and eradicate it? The tension between the urge to persecute and the necessity to tolerate affected early modern Europe at all levels of society and in many different guises. Discourses about toleration and persecution centered on the treatment of religious dissenters such as heretics of various kinds or non-Christians. Equally, the question of what to do with other undesirables (the poor, unwed mothers or drunks) demanded a decision between the Christian imperatives of love and charity and the desire to purge the Christian community of sin. In this seminar, we are going to explore these tensions in a variety of contexts and explore the development of a modern value.  

WITCHCRAFT, RELIGION AND POWER IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE 

This course aims to give students an understanding of the causes and courses of witch- hunting in early modern Europe. It will consider the intellectual background of the witch- hunt; the relationship of witchcraft to the Protestant and Catholic reformations; the diverse legal and judicial arrangements; literary and feminist theories are compared with readings inspired by anthropology and psychoanalysis; and the depiction of witchcraft in popular imagination. We will also focus upon the cultural and social context of the witch-hunts: issues such as the high proportion of women who were accused and executed will be addressed. The literature of witchcraft is diverse and methodologically sophisticated. There are many conflicting interpretations, and many different approaches. Students will be introduced to these approaches, and encouraged to engage with them critically. 

Students will also be introduced to primary source material from a wide geographical area, and a variety of genres, and encouraged to analyse these carefully. 

RUSSIA IN REVOLUTION 1900-1939 

The module examines the relationship between the economic modernisation of Russia and political revolution, as demonstrated by the upheavals of 1905, 1917, the civil war, the ‘revolution from above’ and the terror of the Stalin era. The module examines two seemingly very different models of development and seeks to evaluate their relative effectiveness. The first might be characterised as a capitalist model of development, which was applied in the late tsarist era, and was embodied in the industrialisation policies of Sergei Witte and the agrarian reforms of Pyotr Stolypin. The second is the Soviet state model of socialist modernisation, reflected in the different policies pursued by Lenin and Stalin, War Communism, the New Economic Policy, and the Command – Administrative Economy which saw the drive to industrialise the country during the First and Second Five Year Plan and the effort to transform agriculture through Collectivisation. The module looks at these different strategies of economic modernisation, their achievements and costs, their social impact and their consequences for the political order in terms of the resort to methods of coercion and repression. 

CONFLICT IN THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 

Historically and contemporaneously the Middle East stands out as the most contested space in the world. As the birthplace of religions, as the geostrategic highway linking Europe with Asia and as the location of the majority of global oil reserves post 1945 the region became a cauldron of conflict leading to internally and externally generated wars. The Arab-Israeli Wars and the Israeli-Palestine conflict are examples of the former, the world wars and the Cold War of the latter. This module will consider the origins, campaigns and outcomes of wars from World War One to the Arab Spring and the battle with ISIS linking them to debates in the literature. There will also be some document analysis to enhance understanding.

FRANCE AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR 

This option deals with the most exciting and controversial period in contemporary French history: France under German occupation. First, France suffered a calamitous collapse in the so-called “Blitzkrieg”, which stunned the whole world. Afterwards it was occupied by Nazi Germany, its Republic collapsed and the authoritarian Vichy Regime under First World War hero Marshal Pétain was established. A Resistance movement against the occupiers and Vichy took shape that ultimately took power once the country was liberated in 1944. The subject has recently been radically revised by developments in French and German historiography after the declassification of substantial archival material. The aim of the module is to understand these recent debates, analyse French domestic politics under occupation, its society, the nature of the Vichy regime and its place in French history, as well as German and Italian occupation policy in France during WWII. Consideration will be also given to the Resistance and to de Gaulle’s Free French. 

THE MIRROR OF MODERNITY: GLOBAL HISTORIES OF PHOTOGRAPHY 

Photography emerged in the early decades of the 19th century and rapidly penetrated many spheres of life. Understood at first as a technology for ‘truthful representation’ of reality, it found its application in emerging scientific disciplines ranging from medicine to anthropology, but also in modern state-building (police surveillance and forensics, for instance). In society, photography was rapidly commercialized, and played a key part in the emergence of middle class/bourgeois modernities across the world. Its particular claim on ‘truthful representation’ also worked to change the meaning of ‘art,’ freeing it from the need to remain faithful to reality and opening the space for what we know today as ‘modern art,’ increasingly bent toward abstraction. In the hands of tourists, explorers and colonial administrators, photography became an essential tool for consolidating new nations as well as (not so new) empires, allowing them to visualize and thus to define what these Nations/Empires were and who counted as their ‘Others.’ Accessible to millions of users across the world, home-owned Kodaks (and later Polaroids) allowed men, women, and children to fashion themselves and to enact, perform, and experiment with multiple notions of femininity, masculinity, and the family. In a nutshell, modernity is unthinkable without the presence of the camera. 

This module will explore the many histories of photography from the perspectives of social and cultural history. It will unsettle two entrenched traditions in studying the topic: we will not approach photography as either art or as a technology— though both approaches will be discussed when appropriate; secondly, we will pay equal attention to western and non- western histories of photography. 

A MAN’S WORLD? WOMEN, WAR, AND THE MODERN MILITARY 

In his A History of Warfare, John Keegan wrote that ‘warfare is… the one human activity from which women, with the most insignificant exceptions, have always and everywhere stood apart… Women do not fight’. Women’s role in warfare, particularly the idea of women as soldiers, remains a contentious issue. Throughout the course of history, women have undertaken a number of different roles in relation to the armed forces and warfare whether as campfollowers, pacifists, wives, peacekeepers, resistance fighters, and front line combatants. Not all of these roles were out of choice. This module will examine the changing role of women in warfare from the American Civil War to the post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Students will also be invited to examine some of the ‘hidden’ or ‘silent’ aspects of women’s experience of war, namely the use of rape as a weapon of war and incidences of intimate partner violence (domestic violence) in service families. This examination will be underpinned by an understanding of the constructed nature of gender, and how the concept of gender has been applied to men and women’s roles in time of war. Are men ‘Just Warriors’, and women simply ‘Beautiful Souls’? How relevant is gender to women’s roles in modern war? Why is the idea of women serving on the front line such a contentious issue? These are just some of the questions that we will consider throughout the module. 

A HOLIDAY FROM REALITY’: A HISTORY OF DRUGS AND DRUG USE IN THE MODERN ERA 

In his novel A Brave New World (1932), Aldous Huxley declared that consuming the mythical drug ‘soma’ was to take a ‘holiday from reality’. While the module is not quite this break from reality, it does seek to examine the history of drugs in the modern era in a broad and imaginative manner; moving beyond narratives of substance abuse and addiction to consider concepts of functional drug use and the role of human agency in the process of consuming psychoactives. The module examines broad historiographical themes and historical case studies, which focus on a particular drug, a group of substances or a specific historical moment. Based around a loose chronology that spans the Victorian era to the Cold War and beyond, the module will include global narratives relating to the trade and regulation of drugs through to national and regional studies, including Britain, the United States and Germany. More generally, the module will consider drug use in times of war; the political, legal, social, medical, cultural and ethical responses to drug use; and the use of drugs in everyday life, from cups of tea to cans of coke. By so doing, the module aims to understand humanity’s enduring and symbiotic relationship with psychoactives. 

THE AGE OF ENERGY: GLOBAL HISTORIES OF HOPES, NEEDS, AND CARBON 

The twentieth century is, among other things, the century of energy. Never has energy been more abundant – but at the same time, the quest for energy has stoked a wide array of conflicts all over the world. Striking coal miners have rocked Western societies, the quest for oil has fuelled both trade wars and real wars, and fears of depletion run through the twentieth century. And yet the history of energy is a strangely ambivalent one: burning needs and suffering stand next to neglect and ignorance; times of scarcity gave way to abundance and heedless waste. It is a story of dreams about nuclear utopias and realities of pollution and disasters – a success story with an obscene toll. Energy is also a great opportunity to learn about global history: few things unite the world more firmly, for better or worse, than our hunger for energy. The course offers a broad overview and makes a point of looking into the social, cultural, economic, political and environmental dimensions of energy issues. In short, the module provides insights into a key part of modern industrial civilization that we are often inclined to forget. It may also help to understand an arena of conflicts that is poised to become ever more relevant in the twenty-first century. 

THE UNITED STATES SOUTH: FROM PLANTATIONS TO NASCAR 

In the eyes of many the United States’ southern region stands apart from the rest of the nation. Its institutions’ have been described as “peculiar,” its culture lacking, and its people a “problem.” At the same time, “the South” is not an easily definable place. This Advanced Option Module examines southern identity and history from the antebellum period (1820-1861) to contemporary debates over the “Global U.S. South.” Using the insights of cultural, social, political, and economic history it will ask students to think of the South as a specific place as well as a national construction. Using traditional primary sources alongside works of fiction, film, and music, students will explore the often-complicated relationship between the U.S. South, nation, and world. Each week students will use the assigned readings and primary documents to evaluate the ways white southerners, African Americans, and recent immigrants shaped the region’s history. Topics covered will include capitalism and slavery; the Civil War; Reconstruction; The New South; Dixie and commodification; Jim Crow; the Civil Rights Movement; southern food; the “southernization” of American life; and the Global U.S. South. Students will leave the module with a greater understanding of the complicated history and culture of the U.S. South and how it continues to shape national questions about race, citizenship, and belonging in America. 

THE COST OF WAR 

As events in the last two centuries have shown, the outcome of conventional wars is very much dependent on the economic strength of the belligerents; and in case of asymmetrical warfare on the question if the economical ‘superior power’ is willing to make the economic sacrifices necessary to winning a war. The module will introduce students to the economic problems of warfare since the Napoleonic era; issues investigated will include war finance; (industrial) production of war materials; organisation of wartime economies, including raw material provision, interruption of enemies’ economic systems; the ‘military-industrial complex’ and its influence; the impact political decisions do have on the effectiveness and efficiency of armed forces; the impact of spiralling procurement costs.

 

History Advanced Option B - Spring

History Advanced Spring options (20 credits) are assessed by a three hour exam held during the Summer term. You will have a total of 3 formal seminar-based contact hours per week, plus up to two weekly staff office hours for one-to-one consultation at your request.

MEDIEVAL GENDER 

The module aims to give a broad overview and introduction of the history of women and gender in Medieval Europe with a special emphasis on England. The period covered will span approximately from 1100 to 1500 and key topics will be explored through a variety of primary sources, including secular and ecclesiastical court records, chronicles, poems and sermons. There will be an emphasis on historiography and the problems of gender history versus the history of women alongside analysis of theories attempting to explain gender discrimination, including feminism. These debates will be placed within a medieval context and alongside topics such as sexuality and prostitution, medieval attitudes to marriage, peasant women, queens, and nuns. Long term changes in status and debates surrounding changes in economic participation will also be explored, alongside impacts of life-cycle changes, including childhood and widowhood. 

MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM 

The course will provide a survey of the forms of life and the institutions developed by women and men who decided to leave the world and devote their lives to divine service in the middle ages. It will offer a survey of key developments, beginning with the early forms of medieval monasticism, phases of monastic decline and attempts of reform. The focus will be on important features like Carolingian monasticism, Cluny and the revival in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the role of the eremitical life, the religious orders of the twelfth century and the mendicant orders. This chronological survey will be followed by an analytical part which will deal with structural issues like the foundation of religious houses, rules, the monastic economy, the cultural significance of monasteries and religious orders, the monastic economy and the secular environment. 

WOMEN AND MEN IN LATE IMPERIAL CHINA

Present-day China is home to a fifth of the world's population, will soon be one of the world's largest economies, and is increasingly flexing its muscles on the global political stage. Today it is the last survivor of the major communist regimes, but for most of its history – over two thousand years – China was ruled by emperors working within a distinctive set of traditions that continue to resonate and to shape Chinese society to this day. This module considers how this history changes when viewed from the perspective of gender, but it is not an exercise in ‘women's history’. Instead women and their experiences are taken as integral to topics such as imperial rulership, religion, the economy, and the rise of literacy. Doing this alters our perceptions of these topics, but also highlights how little we know about men as men in history (rather than as kings, soldiers, farmers, etc). 

Major themes of the module will include representation (how people depicted other people) and agency (how much control people had over their own lives), and the tension between the ties of family and the loyalty owed to the imperial state. Studying a number of different dynastic periods, we will tackle topics and controversies that shed light on how a gendered approach to history really makes a difference. 

CRUSADING AND CRUSADER KINGDOMS 

Few aspects of medieval history appear to have more contemporary resonance than the crusades, the so-called ‘wars of the cross’ that were fought by western Christians against a range of adversaries, including Muslims, pagans, heretics and Mongols. In this module we will examine the origins and development of the crusading ideal in the central Middle Ages, from its formation in the late eleventh century through to its evolution and diversification in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Where appropriate, we will also study the nature of the frontier societies that were created by crusaders in the eastern Mediterranean, the Iberian peninsula and north-eastern Europe, and assess the impact that crusading had on the lives and mentalities of western Europeans in general. 

EMBARRASSING BODIES: MEDICINE, MADNESS AND MORALITY IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE 

In the early-modern world, understanding of the workings of the human body was not based on the findings of science, as it is today, but on a very different worldview that still drew on the beliefs of the ancient world and which often placed the morality of the patient at the heart of the explanation of sickness. What we today would call mental illness, for example, was in early-modern Europe often interpreted as an attack of Satan on a Christian or even a sign of demonic possession. Birth defects in newborn infants were seen as a sign from God or even a judgement on the parents as a result of the child having been conceived in what the Church regarded as any one of a large number of ‘incorrect’ sexual positions. The Church too was at the heart of the provision of medical care, with treatment still largely in the hands of monastic and convent communities, while local ‘wise women’ could be drawn in to provide affordable cures: these same women were often those first to be accused of witchcraft when the cures failed to have the desired effect. Yet the early-modern period was also one of change: the Reformation led to the establishment of the first secular, ‘non-church’ hospitals more closely akin to what we might recognise today, and medical knowledge slowly began to focus more on observation and experimentation, as seen in the works of the great anatomist Vesalius (1514-64) and radical physician Paracelsus (1493-1541). This module will look at early-modern conceptions of the human body and human mind; it will look at particularly common illnesses, conditions and dangers of the day, including plague; and it will look at the wide range of cures and curers available in the context of changing approaches to medical knowledge and treatment. You will develop insights into an aspect of history that is not commonly-taught but which is both fascinating in its own right and casts light on broader topics such as the Reformation, witchcraft and gender history. 

RUSSIA IN REVOLUTION 1900-1939 

The module examines the relationship between the economic modernisation of Russia and political revolution, as demonstrated by the upheavals of 1905, 1917, the civil war, the ‘revolution from above’ and the terror of the Stalin era. The module examines two seemingly very different models of development and seeks to evaluate their relative effectiveness. The first might be characterised as a capitalist model of development, which was applied in the late tsarist era, and was embodied in the industrialisation policies of Sergei Witte and the agrarian reforms of Pyotr Stolypin. The second is the Soviet state model of socialist modernisation, reflected in the different policies pursued by Lenin and Stalin, War Communism, the New Economic Policy, and the Command – Administrative Economy which saw the drive to industrialise the country during the First and Second Five Year Plan and the effort to transform agriculture through Collectivisation. The module looks at these different strategies of economic modernisation, their achievements and costs, their social impact and their consequences for the political order in terms of the resort to methods of coercion and repression. 

FRANCE AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR 

This option deals with the most exciting and controversial period in contemporary French history: France under German occupation. First, France suffered a calamitous collapse in the so-called “Blitzkrieg”, which stunned the whole world. Afterwards it was occupied by Nazi Germany, its Republic collapsed and the authoritarian Vichy Regime under First World War hero Marshal Pétain was established. A Resistance movement against the occupiers and Vichy took shape that ultimately took power once the country was liberated in 1944. The subject has recently been radically revised by developments in French and German historiography after the declassification of substantial archival material. The aim of the module is to understand these recent debates, analyse French domestic politics under occupation, its society, the nature of the Vichy regime and its place in French history, as well as German and Italian occupation policy in France during WWII. Consideration will be also given to the Resistance and to de Gaulle’s Free French. 

RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS CHANGE IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF ELIZABETH I 

As recently as fifty years ago, historians believed that the English reformation stopped dead with the accession of Elizabeth I in 1559.  What we know now is that by 1559 the process by which England was becoming a Protestant nation had really only just begun. Looking back at the long and prosperous Elizabethan ‘golden age’, it is easy to forget that the last Tudor inherited a kingdom wracked with religious tensions, and a people struggling to come to terms with the traumatic events of the previous half century. The age of Shakespeare was also an age of bitter division, simmering religious hatreds and titanic battles over the heart and soul of the English Church.  This module will look at the reformation during the reign of Elizabeth I, from two main perspectives.  It will adopt a broadly chronological approach, looking at key moments and events in the reign, such as the vestiarian controversy, the northern rising, the admonition controversy, the Spanish armada, etc., and considering their relevance in terms of religious identity and change. It will also look at key themes, such as popular religion, puritanism, and Catholicism, in order to highlight some of the main areas of historiographical interest in this period. We will explore a wide variety of primary sources together in depth, from official publications such as homilies, sermons, liturgies and religious articles, to descriptions of martyrdom, educational and devotional texts, works of propaganda and persuasion, musical compositions, court records, parochial accounts, diaries, and other printed and manuscript materials. 

WARFARE AT SEA FROM THE ARMADA TO OVERLORD 

We will study the history of warfare at sea from the Armada to the end of the Second World War, and explore three major themes. First, and most obviously, we will trace the influence of sea power upon history. How did naval warfare shape both European and world history? Secondly, throughout this period, preparing for and waging war at sea was the most complex and expensive challenge faced by modern states. How and why they built, maintained and used navies, and their ability to adapt to rapid technological change while keeping sight of enduring strategic truths, tells us much about the societies and cultures which did so. Thirdly, we will study the influence of history upon sea power, analysing the long tradition of the use (and abuse) of naval history to address latter-day concerns. 

THE GOOD WAR? A CULTURAL AND MILITARY HISTORY OF BRITAIN AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The Second World War is often called ‘the good war’ – a black and white conflict where good triumphed over evil. But was it? Can a war ever be cast in such simplistic terms? We will consider these questions, along with wider cultural, social, and military considerations in order to understand how British and Commonwealth participants (in the broadest sense of the word) experienced the Second World War and how they made sense of those experiences. While the module will consider some of the key campaigns of the Second World War, such as the Fall of Singapore, the Desert War, the Normandy campaign, and the war at air and at sea, this analysis will not be limited to a mere overview of the Allies’ campaigns in the war. Instead, it will position these operational campaigns within a broader context, and will include the cultural, ethical, industrial, sexual, and social aspects of war. We will explore whether there really was a ‘Blitz Spirit’ on the British home front, or whether the war served to exacerbate already existing tensions. We will also consider how Britain and the Allies won the war in a military sense. Was it through luck, through combat effectiveness and experience, or a combination of multiple factors? By using a variety of primary sources, including oral history, official papers, diaries, and letters, we will explore the experience and impact of the Second World War on Britain at home and overseas. 

FROM EMPIRE TO COLONY: INDIAN SOCIETY, POLITICS AND ECONOMY, C.1757-1885 

The early colonial period (c.1757-1857) is an important and widely debated chapter in modern South Asian history. Beginning in the twilight of Mughal sovereignty across early eighteenth century India this module will chart the emergence of the East India Company as the territorial hegemon across much of the Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth century. Students will be encouraged to critically engage with significant themes that have attracted scholarly attention with a special emphasis on new research on gender, science, geographical knowledge, orientalism, law and mercantile networks of exchange. The exercise of coercive force which enabled the creation of an increasingly unequal relationship of power was at the heart of the early colonial encounter. Yet this apparatus of control was not maintained by brute force alone. Forms of knowledge production, ideologies of rule and increasingly efficient technologies of governance sustained the creation of an early colonial order. Conflict and conquest was accompanied by sophisticated and ambitious projects to survey, settle, control, classify and tax colonial subjects. The Indian response to this imposition of alien rule included laments of displaced elites and the emergence of a colonial modernity as exemplified by a new, urbane elite engaged in projects of male reformism. The role of religion, status, changing forms of wealth, ethnicity and conceptions of racial difference – will form an important part of this module. The Revolt of 1857 and its aftermath are understood as a cataclysmic break with racial categories and an increasing distance between the rulers and the ruled characterizing the exercise of authority of the Victorian Raj. 

A HOLIDAY FROM REALITY’: A HISTORY OF DRUGS AND DRUG USE IN THE MODERN ERA 

In his novel A Brave New World (1932), Aldous Huxley declared that consuming the mythical drug ‘soma’ was to take a ‘holiday from reality’. While the module is not quite this break from reality, it does seek to examine the history of drugs in the modern era in a broad and imaginative manner; moving beyond narratives of substance abuse and addiction to consider concepts of functional drug use and the role of human agency in the process of consuming psychoactives. The module examines broad historiographical themes and historical case studies, which focus on a particular drug, a group of substances or a specific historical moment. Based around a loose chronology that spans the Victorian era to the Cold War and beyond, the module will include global narratives relating to the trade and regulation of drugs through to national and regional studies, including Britain, the United States and Germany. More generally, the module will consider drug use in times of war; the political, legal, social, medical, cultural and ethical responses to drug use; and the use of drugs in everyday life, from cups of tea to cans of coke. By so doing, the module aims to understand humanity’s enduring and symbiotic relationship with psychoactives. 

AMERICA IN CONFLICT FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO THE WAR ON TERROR 

The United States of America was born from conflict and held together through the Union victory in the civil war. Thereafter overseas adventures multiplied as America became a world power and sought to project its ideals abroad and protect burgeoning military, financial and economic interests. Thus America was drawn into the two world wars. Thereafter during the Cold War military interventions in Korea and Vietnam proved costly but ultimately greater American strength saw it prevail against the Soviet Union. The Gulf War advertised superior American military technology and expunged the humiliation of Vietnam. More recently, the War on Terror led to invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq which generated controversy whose impact is still resonating today. This module will consider causes and consequences of seminal conflicts and crises in conjunction with the debates they have generated among historians. 

OCCUPATION AND THE WAR ON TERROR IN IRAQ FROM ITS ORIGINS TO 2011: EXAMINING THE AMERICAN AND BRITISH INTERVENTION 

This Option examines the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the course of the occupation and war through its height in 2008, and the eventual American/British withdrawal by 2011. In addition to examining the history of the war itself, including the rise of the insurgency to the Surge, it will place this war in its broader context in terms of American foreign policy in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf War, as well as the Global War on Terror initiated in the fall of 2001. This Option seeks to also examine the pre-history of this intervention, its connection to transformations in international politics as well as defense politics in the 1990’s, but also the deeper memory of war within various Western militaries in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Once we turn to the war and occupation itself we will not only examine the high politics of the conflict, but also the conflict as viewed from level of the small units fighting the war.  Though it will not be our primary focus, we will also pay attention to the dynamics of the insurgency itself and what proved so difficult for the military and policymakers to gain an understanding of it in order to defeat it. Since this is a very contemporary history, we will use a wide variety of sources for this Option, from traditional historical sources (books / articles) to blogs to oral histories. The Option will demand that you achieve a certain level of indifference to many of the current easy preconceptions surrounding the Iraq War in order to carry through a detached investigation of the conflict. 

'HEAVEN KNOWS I’M MISERABLE NOW': BRITAIN IN THE 1980S 

When thinking about the 1980s, Thatcherism and the politics of the New Right often come to the forefront of academic debate. This is, perhaps, unsurprising give the divisive nature of politics at the time, and the convenient fact that Margaret Thatcher held the position of Prime Minister for the entire decade. However, for the so-called ‘ordinary’ person, what was life in the 1980s like? How did the politics of the day filter down into everyday life and culture? 

This module aims to explore the 1980s in Britain from the perspective of the people who lived through it. Largely using popular culture, it will consider how identities based on class, race, gender, sexuality, consumption and ownership, amongst other things, played out in the politics of the day, and also how the politics of the day played out in these different places and spaces. 

This was a period of often rapid and violent change from the beginning of the 1980s aids crisis in 1981, through the miners’ strikes and record-breaking privatisation of British Telecom in 1984, to Live Aid in 1985 and the financial crash of 1987. This module allows students to encounter the defining moments of this decade in terms of how they were configured in the popular imagination and what they can tell us about living in 1980s Britain.

 

Special Subject: Sources (A) and Essays (B)

  • Value: Each of the following modules are 20 + 20 credits at final-year level and run in the Autumn and Spring terms.
  • Assessment: History Special Subjects are assessed in the summer term by two equally-weighted examinations;  one will be essay-based (3 hour unseen) and the other primary-source based (take home examination). You will have a total of three formal seminar-based contact hours per week, plus up to two weekly staff office hours for one-to-one consultation at your request.

GAME WITHOUT THRONES: SAGA AGE ICELAND C. 900 – C. 1250 

How would you organise a brand-new society set up by people drawn from diverse geographical and social backgrounds? How would that society function if it were remote from other places and where material conditions were poor? What would you make of this society if the major written sources it produced were soap-opera-like epic stories dominated by tales of bloodfeuds, zombies, and where when people were not fighting with weapons they fought with sexual insults? Questions like these are ones historians consider for early Icelandic society, one of the world’s most distinctive societies in one of the world’s most unusual physical landscapes. 

The ‘viking’ colonisation of Iceland is one of the most unusual events in world: in the late ninth century a completely new society was established from scratch in a country which had never been inhabited before. Why people went to Iceland and how this new society of migrants evolved forms the first part of this module. Equally intriguing is how this society functioned in later centuries. Iceland had no king, just a series of public assemblies where legal and social business was carried out. It was materially poor and political power was weak. The most important figures were often regional leaders (chieftains) whose charisma and personal qualities mattered as much as their wealth and military muscle. While Christianity arrived in Iceland in c.1000 it was slow to take hold. 

VIOLENCE AND DEVOTION IN THE CRUSADING WORLD 

From its origins in 1095, through its zenith in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, crusading was an act of devotional violence that was defined by a central concern with the recovery, possession and transformation of sacred spaces and objects that were believed to be threatened or polluted by religious ‘others’, whether Muslims, pagans, or heretics. In this module we will examine the religious beliefs and devotional practices associated with crusading and Latin frontier settlement in the central Middle Ages through a wide-ranging study of texts, images and objects. We will ask: Why were medieval Catholics so obsessed with the idea of bringing the Holy Land under Latin Christian rule? What religious objects and images were prized and venerated by crusaders, and why? How were non-Latins affected by these dramatic expressions of Catholic piety? In what ways were the religious sensibilities of medieval Christendom reshaped by victories, defeats and disasters in the East? What was the ongoing appeal of crusading as an act of Christian piety? To what extent was crusading an ‘extreme’ display of medieval Catholic devotion? 

VILLAGE LIFE IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND C. 1100 – 1500 

Peasants made up the vast majority of the population and so defined later medieval society.  Therefore  the  roots  of  the great  social  and  economic  changes  which occurred  in  the  later  medieval  period  are  to  be  found  in  village communities. Peasants therefore matter, and this course will examine a number of aspects of peasant life from ca. 1200 to 1500. 

How did peasants live, what did their villages look like and what were their typical daily trials and tribulations? How did rural society cope with famines and harvest failure? What was the impact of the Black Death in village communities, and how important was lordship to the daily peasant experience? 

Peasants were not simply victims of either the vagaries of the weather or lordship. They were on the whole competent, skilled and intelligent people, who planned ahead, and who had a very high level of understanding of various legal matters, which meant that they spend quite a lot of time suing each other. Some had experience of warfare as soldiers and archers, and some used this knowledge and experience in fighting back against lordship. Peasants were not all the same: some were free, some unfree, and some were well off and others were extremely poor, so we will look at such divisions within peasant societies, including the division arising from gender. What was it like to be a peasant woman? Can we define concepts of masculinity or femininity in peasant society? 

We have a wealth of primary sources available which shed a lot of light on these questions. Local court records (manorial records), can tell us a great deal about the daily experiences of peasants in this period, from how much land they held, over whom they got into arguments and fights with at the local ale house. We also have poems and chronicles which can help us explore contemporary perceptions of peasants  as  well  as  their  actions  and  aims  in  peasant  revolts.  We also have archaeological sources, which can help us to explore the material culture of rural society. 

THE WORLD’S LARGEST EMPIRE: THE MONGOLS AND CHINA 

The Mongols ran the largest land-based empire ever known in history. The drama of the initial conquests by Chinggis Qan (whom you may know better as Genghis Khan) is matched by the ambitions of his successors, not least Qubilai Qa’an (Khubilai Khan), who completed the conquest of China and founded the Yuan (1260-1368) dynasty there. Although the Mongol empire extended out from Inner Asia to the limits of Persia in the west and to China in the east, the attention of Europeans was riveted by the Mongol invasions of Eastern Europe in 1240-2, and subsequently by the extraordinary travelogue recounting Marco Polo’s twenty-year sojourn (1271-92) at Qubilai’s court in China and journeys to neighbouring countries. Thanks to Marco Polo, the Mongols in China have remained on Europeans’ radar ever since. We will work with some of the many primary materials accessible to those with no knowledge of the original languages, including Marco Polo, Rashid al-Din and the Secret History of the Mongols. We will investigate where the Mongols came from and the different ways in which their expansion was received: were they embraced, tolerated, resisted, and who sought their support? We will examine relations between the Mongols and the conquered peoples, and address issues such as collaboration and assimilation. The module gives you the opportunity to develop a deep appreciation of what many regard as the first truly global empire. 

LAW AND SOCIETY IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND 

Between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries England developed a legal system that was independent of the previous Anglo-Saxon principles and of other legal traditions. Initially mainly dealing with disputes of land and thus concerning the aristocracy and those immediately subordinate to them, it gradually widened its scope to include many other types of legal conflict such as trespass or debt, disputes which could affect many other social groups as well. As the scope of the law widened it affected an ever wider social sphere, extending also to the unfree. Their legal actions were heard in royal law courts, based on the king’s court, which emerged from the last quarter of the twelfth century. The courts were staffed by expert personnel, responsible only to the king and formed part of a sophisticated system of government. 

This special subject will trace the development of the English Common Law as a part of the development of English society and royal administration, beginning with the state of the law after the Norman Conquest. It will address the legal changes under king Henry II, and look at the mechanisms of the main royal courts, including the Eyre, the Court of Common Pleas and the King’s Bench. Major documents like Magna Carta will be analysed as to their legal and political significance. It will also include aspects of the law which were relevant to large sections of society: Forest law, the workings of manorial courts and the legal status of people – freedom and villeinage. 

Students will deal with extracts from the rich documentation which survives in the form of legal records, statutes as well as legal treatises. These will be available in modern English translation. 

A HISTORY OF THE TUDORS IN 100 OBJECTS 

In this course we will examine a rich body of surviving objects from the Tudor period to explore how key themes in the study of early modern history were experienced by people in everyday life. Each week we will discuss the ways in which a particular object—including the legendary ‘Round Table’ of King Arthur, a nit-comb from the shipwrecked Mary Rose, a defaced religious icon, a witch-bottle and a codpiece— might inform our understanding of, for example, dynastic and religious change; social mobility; superstition and popular belief; domestic and family life; gender; health and hygiene. We will investigate and vote for additional objects each week to arrive collectively by the end of the course at our own version of a history of the Tudors in 100 objects. 

In the last two decades there has been a popular turn towards the study of ‘material culture’ in historical studies. The sixteenth century in England is often identified with the start of a commodity culture and a pronounced increase in the production and consumption of a wide range of material goods. Yet the artefactual evidence presented by the objects themselves and the micro-histories they open up is often neglected or buried within broader narratives. This course will engage with a range of primary texts and secondary readings to identify the material, economic and symbolic values of ‘things’ for early modern people, as well as the different approaches to the study of material culture offered by disciplines such as art history, archaeology, anthropology and literary studies. We will also ask questions about the ways in which historic objects are presented in museum and heritage contexts. 

AGE OF DISCOVERY

The focus of this module is the period of European discovery and encounter with the wider world beyond the confines of Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. Between c. 1400 and c. 1600 Europeans passed the tropic of Cancer, hitherto seen as a complete barrier to expansion, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, sailed through the Straits of Magellan, circumnavigated the world and founded the first large international trading monopolies. In this period, the Atlantic seaboard ceased to be a periphery region and became a key region of European power. This period led, amongst other matters, to the foundation of the first large international trading monopolies, the wide transfer of animals, plants, humans and cultures between the two hemispheres, the global mapping of the world and a new world-view, and the rise of colonial empires. 

This module examines the politically-laden term of discovery, and debates its suitability. We shall discuss and evaluate some the principal technological and intellectual developments that needed to occur to bring about an age of discovery, examining some of the practicalities involved in exploration and encounter, important voyages of exploration, and the main implications for the political, social and intellectual history in Europe. We shall discuss the role of both institutions such as trading companies, national governments and the church, and individuals in furthering European exploration and discovery in the newly-encountered regions of the world. These regions include not only the New world, but also regions of Africa and Asia. We will focus on the countries directly involved in expansion, particularly England, France, Spain and Portugal. A wide range of historical sources will be analysed, including ships papers, official and personal papers, memoirs, journals, letters, maps, navigational instruments and cosmographical treatises. 

BIG CITY, SMALL WORLDS: THE MAKING OF EARLY MODERN CITIES

In this course we will trace the growing fascination of early modern Europeans with city-life and urban culture by exploring some of the great cities of the period ourselves: Venice, Amsterdam, Paris and Rome, London, Nuremberg, Barcelona and Madrid (and perhaps Istanbul, too). Though only 15% of the population of Europe lived in towns and cities in the early modern period, urban centres had an enormous impact on popular imagination and discourse at the time. Political, social, economic and cultural developments, such as the Renaissance and the Reformation, were shaped by and in cities. The course will be structured thematically around a number of topics, for example, politics and power, surveillance and subversion, revolt, criminal culture, popular culture, community, diversity, space, and art. This will be done by focussing on two or more cities in most seminars and by working comparatively. The objective of this method is simple: to work out the complexity of urban development by identifying common issues and differences. By analysing the attitudes, perceptions and values of early modern city-dwellers, we will explore the ways of living, modes of social interaction, the influence of the built environment, and the complex political and economic relationships that characterised urban life. Questions asked will focus, for example, on the importance of rituals and ceremonial for the regulation of urban life and how the very same could be used to subvert order, how the rise of early modern consumer society helped to fashion identities, and how space could be used for architectural, communicative or even gendered purposes. Addressing these questions will help us think about historical method and the ways in which historians have imagined and thought about life in early modern cities. For our investigation we will draw on the wealth of existing historiography. In addition, there are also a rich variety of primary sources (visual and verbal) which will allow students to create their own interpretations of early modern city-life. 

HISTORIES OF HATE: FEAR AND LOATHING IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE 

The early-modern period was marked by ferocious persecution of many groups perceived to be in some way threatening, deviant or simply different from the established social order. Islamophobia was rife, as was anti-semitism, with the Jews of Europe being subject to inquisition, expulsion, ghettoisation, exploitation and execution. Within Christianity, the tumult of the reformation led to religious division and difference that resulted in outbreaks of vicious sectarian mob violence bolstered by unbending state persecution of confessional minorities, while those who were seen as racially or physically different, deformed or simply female (!) could also be subject to harsh treatment. Sexual behaviour was also a matter of public concern rather than private predilection, with the criminalisation of acts seen as immoral, such as adultery and sodomy. Lastly, this was an age in which the devil was believed to walk the earth; as a result, prosecutions for witchcraft soared in the period, with tens of thousands of women and sometimes men tried and executed for their suspected diabolism. 

The religious changes of the period acted to a large extent accelerant, intensifier and legitimiser of all of these manifestations of persecution. Scholars have, however, suggested other reasons too, including apocalypticism, confessionalization (the development of the early modern state), class tensions (the view of Marxist historians), the dissemination of propaganda thanks to the spread of print, environmental and climactic concerns (the sixteenth century saw the peak of the so- called Little Ice Age), and valuable insights drawn from the fields of anthropology and psychology on how people behave in groups against perceived enemies or 'pollutants'. You will be invited to consider the value of all of these explanations, allowing you to come to your own conclusions about the origins of persecution, not only in early-modern Europe but in the broader past and indeed present. 

THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR AND LOCAL SOCIETY 

The civil war that ripped England apart in the 1640s was one of the most devastating conflicts in its history. It destroyed families and towns, ravaged the population and led to the execution of King Charles I and the establishment of the only republican regime in English history. It causes can be traced back to the social, cultural and political upheavals of the previous 50 years, as England became divided by a series of religious ‘culture wars’ and parliament and the people turned against royal government. Its consequences were felt for decades, as the new opportunities afforded by print culture and the radical ideas of groups like the Levellers and Quakers opened up opportunities for ordinary English men and women to debate and change their society. The nature of the conventional family was challenged, England was subjected to an experiment in ‘Puritan rule’ and the divide between Royalist and Parliamentarian introduced a new partisanship in politics. 

The aim of this course is to study the English Civil War from the perspective of those who lived through it, in the towns and villages, from the gentry and social elite down to the ordinary men and women of the freeholder and artisan classes. The first term will focus on the lead up to the Civil War, exploring the ‘culture wars’ and social tensions that divided local communities, the growth of opposition to the crown and ideological conflict, and how and why people sided with Parliament or the King in 1642. The second term will focus on the war itself: the battles and sieges which often laid waste local communities, the experience of soldiering and the disruption of the family, and debates about the destructiveness of a war which killed as many of the British people as World Wars I and II. There will also be an investigation of the consequences of the war, opening up new opportunities for empowering women and radical religious groups, but also producing a conservative backlash in favour of the patriarchal family and traditional royal government. These topics will be explored through a rich mix of primary sources, consisting of diaries, correspondence and visual material which reveals, through their own words and images, how the English people experienced civil war. 

STRAY DOGS: CONFRONTING LOSS IN EIGHTEENTH- AND NINETEENTH- CENTURY BRITAIN 

What does it mean to lose something? ‘Stray Dogs’ will encourage you to question the strategies Modern Britons developed to confront experiences of loss and decay. Using newspaper articles, parliamentary reports, minute books, pamphlets and advertisements, the course will begin by examining the establishment of institutions such as foundling hospitals, animal homes, lost property offices, archives and museums. It will consider how and why these institutions came to be and will interrogate their role in redirecting the social lives of people, animals and objects. Alongside institutions, ‘Stray Dogs’ will also explore practices, which emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth century that sought to stem loss by capturing and conserving. It will look to museum and archive conservation and photography, as well as life writing, taxidermy and food preservation techniques to consider how Britons increasingly worked to resist decay. Finally, the module will also explore how people living in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain came to confront the emotional impact of loss by examining the processes of memorialisation found in funerary rites, epitaphs and monuments. In studying these themes, this module will challenge you to consider the place of loss and failure within broader projects of progress and modernity, which have tended to characterise eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. 

PROTESTANTS, PAPISTS AND PURITANS: RELIGIOUS CHANGE UNDER ELIZABETH I AND JAMES I 

As recently as fifty years ago, historians believed that the English reformation stopped dead with the accession of Elizabeth I in 1559. What we know now is that by 1559 the process by which England was becoming a Protestant nation had really only just begun. Looking back at the long and prosperous Elizabethan ‘golden age’, it is easy to forget that the last Tudor inherited a kingdom wracked with religious tensions, and a people struggling to come to terms with the traumatic events of the previous half century. The age of Shakespeare was also an age of bitter division, simmering religious hatreds and titanic battles over the heart and soul of the English Church. This module will take a thematic approach to religious change under Elizabeth I and James I by considering the beliefs and identities of four groups: the ‘popular’ religion of the conforming majority; strict Puritans (who called themselves ‘the godly’); persecuted English Catholics; and other extremist groups, such as the secretive ‘Family of Love’, radical ‘anti-Calvinists’, and a range of underground separatist and fundamentalist sects. We will explore a wide variety of primary sources together in depth, from official publications such as homilies and religious articles, to descriptions of martyrdom, educational and devotional texts, works of propaganda and persuasion, musical compositions, court records, parochial accounts, and other printed and manuscript materials. 

BRITAIN, THE SLAVE TRADE AND ANTI-SLAVERY IN THE LATE-EIGHTEENTH AND EARLY-NINETEENTH CENTURIES 

Britain’s emergence as the dominant slave trading nation and involvement in the slave-based economies of the Americas at the end of the eighteenth century were linked, paradoxically, with the development of campaigns to end the slave trade and slavery. The module will consider connections between the country’s industrial and commercial development, religious beliefs, secular ideologies and social and political protest. It will also explore the relationship of the slave trade and anti-slavery to the growth of the British Empire, the rise of evangelicalism and liberalism, the emergence of racial stereotyping and the role of black people and women, as well as white males, in shaping Britain’s past. There is a considerable amount of secondary and primary literature on this subject, including parliamentary papers, autobiographies, slave narratives, pro-slavery and anti-slavery texts, visual material, artifacts and records of abolitionist societies. The Cadbury Research Library and new Library of Birmingham also hold many records. At the end of the course, we will visit the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and see how the displays and objects illuminate our studies. 

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

The American Civil War (1861-65) was a seminal event in American history. The secession of the Confederate states in 1861 opened the way to four years of bloody conflict: it is the deadliest war in US history, and its legacy remains bitterly contested. This special subject will allow students the chance to explore this conflict in depth. The module will consider a wide range of significant historical debates relating to the war. Why did the war happen? Could the Confederacy really have won it? How much of a difference did the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln make to the result? Why did Britain and France stay neutral? Was the American Civil War the first ‘modern’ war? Did brother really fight against brother? Was slavery the root cause, and how and why did it come to an end? What were the consequences of the war? Students will get the chance to consider all of these questions, and more. 

THE WEARY TITAN: BRITAIN AND IMPERIAL STRATEGY, 1897-1919 

Great Britain at the dawn of the twentieth century appeared to many the only global superpower, unassailable at home and unstoppable overseas. To others, this was a mirage. For instance, in 1902 Joseph Chamberlain described Britain as 'a weary Titan staggering under the too-vast orb of its fate', already suffering from a bad case of what would later be termed 'imperial overstretch'. Which view is right? We will examine British foreign and defence policy in peace and war to explore this and to address four main historical debates. First, how Britain moved, within just twenty years, from being a maritime power which stood aloof from European entanglements to sending her largest ever army to fight and win a terrible war in the heart of Europe. Secondly, her role in the origins of that war. Thirdly, how she addressed new strains on civil-military relations within a democracy and built the professional machinery to manage defence. Lastly, how she managed - or failed to manage - her own decline amidst new challenges to her power in a newly multilateral world. This module should appeal to students interested in international relations, war, and the growth of the modern British state. 

THE BRITISH ARMY AND THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 

'Mud, blood and endless poetry': is that all there was to the First World War? This most controversial of wars has become surrounded by stereotypes and myths. The aim of this module will be to analyse the British Expeditionary Force’s response to the challenge of the Western Front. Was it just an army of ‘lions led by donkeys’, endlessly blundering through the mud in a sterile and senseless conflict? Or a highly effective institution which faced and eventually overcame extreme difficulties and created modern warfare as we know it today? This analysis will not be limited to a mere overview of the BEF’s battles on this front. Instead, it will place the BEF’s response to the Western Front into a wider context, and will include, inter alia, the global, political, strategic, industrial, social, and cultural aspects that affected its ability to wage modern war. It will also invite students to consider the lasting legacy of the First World War through an analysis of the historiography surrounding the conflict and the nature of its commemoration. By considering the BEF in this manner, it is hoped that students will be able to understand how the army developed as an organisation, the external and internal factors that influenced its development, and how such lessons helped or hindered its military performance during the First World War. 

THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION 1917 

The module examines the events in Russia from the February Revolution to the October Revolution of 1917. It analyses the factors shaping the political crisis that gripped the country in this period, the dynamics in the development of the popular responses to the crises, and the way in which different political forces sought to control and lead events. These events are studied against the background of the collapse of the tsarist regime, the problems created by the Great War, and by the international situation and Russia’s relations with its allies. The seminars will focus on the chronological sequences of events, from February to October 1917, based on a close reading of primary documents. This will be complemented by a thematic exploration  of  developments  and  an  exploration  of  the  historiography  of  the revolution. 

PEOPLE OF THE AFTERMATH: BRITISH CULTURE IN THE 1920S AND 1930S 

This is a module about British culture in the 1920s and 1930s. In these two decades Britain was transformed as the Great War’s disruptive legacies intersected with the accelerating pace of peacetime change. Just as writers, poets, artists, sculptors, and ordinary men and women tried to make sense of the war, so at least some Britons found new opportunities for leisure and pleasure for at least some Britons. The popularity of the cinema, dancehall, and cheap novel represented a reinvigorated consumer culture that prompted excitement, anxiety, and the disdain of ‘highbrow’ intellectuals. The wireless programmes of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the films of the documentary movement, and Penguin’s paperback revolution all sought to educate and inform. Many of the cultural forms we take for granted today emerged in the decades after the Great War. 

Rather than focus just on the work of modernist writers, poets and artists, we will treat culture as something ordinary and every day. Culture encompasses attitudes or ways of seeing the world — how we think about class or gender or the ways in which ideas of Britishness are defined.  Culture also encompasses the objects and practices that give those ideas material form. Films, novels, songs or buildings all reflect something of the mood of the age, though, as we will see, not necessarily in immediately obvious ways. Britons were divided by profound differences of class, wealth, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and geography. Acknowledging these differences, we will explore how new cultural forms both brought Britons together and drove them apart. Finally, we will explore the explosive politics of culture in the 1920s and 1930s.  The  demands  of  fighting  a  total  war,  the  expansion  of  the franchise to all adult men and women, and the commercial imperatives of the market made the idea of the ‘people’ increasingly important. Politicians and advertisers alike sought to identify their needs and provide for their desires. Part of the story of the 1920s and 1930s is about the nature of that process, and the question of who was – and was not –to be included among the people of the aftermath. 

Over the course of the year our discussions will take us to war memorials and art deco buildings, romantic fiction and modernist poems, trashy films and highbrow ‘art’, social surveys and sensationalist newspapers. From the confidence trickster to the abdicating monarch, from the unemployed ex-servicemen to the ‘scantily- dressed jazzing flapper’, from the crofters of St Kilda to the long-dead Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen we will meet the people of the aftermath and use their lives to explore the world they inhabited. To explore how ordinary Britons made and made sense of their culture we will read their love letters and diaries, watch them dancing, and listen to their memories. Taking Peaky Blinders and Downtown Abbey as a starting point, we will use these primary sources to think critically about the mythologies of ‘The Long Week-End’ and the historical significance of the 1920s and 1930s in the making of modern British culture. 

BRITISH WOMEN AND INTERNATIONALISM SINCE 1850 

David Low’s 1929 cartoon “The Saner Sex” paid affectionate tribute to the Women’s Peace Crusade, a cross-party organization of British women committed to securing collective security and international peace through the League of Nations. Low’s juxtaposition of an army of bellicose old men and a bored peace-loving woman underscored the prevalent notion of sexual difference in attitudes towards war and peace. Women, as mothers and nurturers, were, it was argued, inherently more pacific than men, and many women used this logic of sexual difference to justify their participation in international affairs. If women’s voices could only be heard, the world would be a more peaceable place. 

Not all women who became involved in international affairs did so because they were feminist pacifists. Some were revolutionaries or militant nationalists. Some were interested in international civil society or humanitarian relief, and comparatively unconcerned with issues of war and peace. Some were pacifists, but understood their pacifism in socialist or humanist terms, and not as a product of their gender. This course looks at the history of women’s involvement in the international sphere, from the nineteenth century through to the present age. The primary sources give voice to women who devoted their time and energy to work in the international sphere, and shed light on the way in which these women understood their connection to the broader world, how they sought to influence the world outside their own borders, and how those around them responded to their international activism. We will look at the multiple arenas in which British women engaged with men and women outside Britain’s borders.

FACING THE FUHRER AND THE DUCE: BRITISH FOREIGN AND DEFENCE POLICIES 1935-1940 

The debate continues over the wisdom of British appeasement towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and whether this did more to cause than prevent the outbreak of World War Two. The traditional view of Neville Chamberlain, a former mayor of Birmingham whose papers are held in the Cadbury Research Library, as 'guilty man number one' has given way to a more nuanced interpretation following the release of government archives which allowed an exploration of motives and constraints operating on policy. A post-revisionist school emerged in the 1990s to challenge the constraint-driven arguments of the revisionist school. Diplomacy was pursued from a position of weakness until rearmament came good. The module will consider the debates and calculations underpinning British defence and foreign policies and the numerous crises of the period utilising primary sources drawn from official archives, private papers, parliamentary debates etc.

THE NAZIS AT WAR 

War was the essence of National Socialism. The movement was born out of war, it created a warlike society, it saw its fulfillment in war and it ultimately went down in war. It is not surprising that most of the research on Nazi Germany of the last two decades revolved around war. The aim of this module will be to familiarise the student with this recent research and engage them with the key debates as well as with the key primary sources on National Socialism and its peculiar relationship to war. Arguably, nothing is more crucial to understanding its ideology and the reality of the Third Reich than this relationship. 

OF RICE AND MEN: NGOS AND HUMANITARIANISM SINCE 1945 

The long and complex history of humanitarianism is attracting growing interest from historians. Many of the key actors in this history have been international non- governmental organisations (NGOs). Although many of these NGOs are instantly recognisable, such as Oxfam, Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), they are a relatively recent historical phenomenon. Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, these NGOs have collectively developed from small, amateur groups into large, professionalised aid agencies with significant influence at the national and transnational level. This course assesses the complex and shifting history of humanitarianism since 1945, with a particular emphasis on the importance of NGOs, examining the cultural, social and political phenomena that inspired the rapid expansion of the sector in both Britain and abroad. 

AFTER HITLER: POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN WEST GERMANY DURING THE ADENAUER ERA, 1945-1965 

The aim of the module is to examine the development of post-war Germany, from the collapse of the Nazi dictatorship to the stepping down of Chancellor Adenauer in 1963. Many, if not most, of the events in Germany during this period have to be seen against or are linked to the background of the Cold War, the emerging European integration and the Nazi past. The module will be based on extracts from contemporary documents and visual images. 

CONCRETE VERSUS COUNTRYSIDE:  THE MAKING OF THE MODERN CITY IN BRITAIN AND THE USA 

Although the twentieth-century saw unprecedented material abundance in Britain and America with the rise of mass consumerism, one commodity remained resolutely finite: namely the land. The question of how land should be used and who should have responsible for deciding that use, has always keenly contested.  The growth (and in some cases decay) of major cities, the decline of the countryside, suburban sprawl and its environmental consequences, urban and rural mobility, and city centre regeneration were all important issues. This module will consider how these debates evolved (particularly after 1945) and why the responses in Britain and America varied to produce the urban and rural landscape we have today.

THE REVOLTING RIGHT: CONSERVATIVE ACTIVISM IN POST-WAR BRITAIN 

Have we witnessed a neoliberal revolution and was the driven by non-party activists? This module assesses these questions by examining various forms of non-party mobilization from the political right. What happens to the history of political activism if we foreground voices which might often be dismissed as ‘cranky’, ‘backwards- looking’, ‘marginal’ and ‘peripheral’? How can we understand such activism, its forms and power as well as the critiques which might be directed towards new forms of conservatism? 

The module largely focuses on British movements and NGOs, but places these in transnational and comparative contexts. It seeks to understand networks which connected Cold War and security NGOs with the not-in-my-back-yard activists supporting British nuclear policy and opposing feminism and lesbianism from a shed in Newbury, Berkshire. Did the late twentieth century see a new world order created along neo-liberal or neo-conservative lines? How did this play out within the British state, and what forms of activism articulated and drove such shifts? Can we historicize the emergence of UKIP? By broadening our understanding of politics, the module examines new sites which become crucial to understanding political shifts including the history of business activism, neighbourhood watch associations and, even, the evolution of the conservative campus in the late twentieth century. 

WHERE THERE IS DISCORD: MAKING THATCHER’S BRITAIN 

In remarks made on the steps on 10 Downing Street on her first morning as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher quoted the words of St Francis of Assisi: ‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony’. Yet Thatcherism provoked much discord and little harmony. The policies of her governments inspired enormously strong reactions among both her supporters and her critics, her personality contributed to the febrile political atmosphere of the 1980s. Where There Is Discord will explore these polarised reactions by examining the policies and politics of the Thatcher governments, and by placing Thatcherism in political and historical perspective. The module will draw on the huge repositories of material on the 1980s made available online by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation Website and the National Archives, and on the popular responses to Thatcherism – the songs, the comedy, the films, the novels, the poetry – that were a feature of British culture in the 1980s and after.

MODERNITY, MASCULINITY AND REVOLUTION IN TWENTIETH CENTURY EGYPT 

This module looks at modern Egypt through the lens of social and cultural history. The Egyptian Revolution of January 25th, 2011, can only be understood within a wider historical framework spanning well over hundred years of modern state building, dynamic social change and concomitant struggles over the nature of modern society, its political character and its cultural orientation. The nexus of Modernity, Masculinity, and Revolution provides a useful angle to examine this history. It was a particular category of Modern Men—tarboushed Efendis, Egypt’s nascent middle class—who formulated a modern national culture and staffed its social political institutions through the early decades of the 20th century. The contradictions of colonialism stymied the Efendi project, leading to the emergence of another category of masculine hero: the Officers, who enforced the project of modernity through the second half of the century. In the current revolutionary process the hegemonic project of modernity can equally be understood through masculine constructs: globalized tech-savvy youth, working-class fighters, and bearded sheikhs, each offering alternative visions of modern Egyptian society. 

In the first term we focus on key processes (punctuated by specific revolutionary moments) that shaped Egypt’s modern history through the 20th century, such as the emergence of a modern middle class with distinctive institutions and practices; local modernity defined by rejection of both local ‘tradition’ and western colonial domination; the emergence of modern Islam as an intellectual tradition and as a protest movement; the rise and fall of the ‘Liberal Age’ and the arrival of the Officers. We approach these issues through expressive cultural sources: each week, a novel or a period movie will instantiate how these big themes were experienced on the ground, and how different groups of Egyptians interpreted and shaped their own history.

In the second term we conduct a more fine-grained examination of the ongoing January 25, 2011, revolution. The focus is, again, on a nexus of people and processes, which we explore in great detail (almost in ‘slow-motion’) through a wealth of primary sources as well as within their proper historical context. We will focus on the utopian republic of Tahrir as it emerged in January/February 2011 (which may remind us of previous revolutionary moments of 1919 and 1952); on urban battles in the winter of 2011/2012 against the Army, and the current return to military rule (which we can only understand within a much larger picture of the army’s role in politics and society since the 1940s); on the role of class and gender in revolutionary performances (intelligible within the framework of a neoliberal reshaping of Egypt since the 1970s, in contrast with earlier post-independence relations between the state and its citizens). Our focus on masculinity and nation- building will not exclude women. On the contrary, these masculine projects are analytically inseparable from the many historical roles and experiences of women.

History Dissertation

This module develops from work undertaken in second year Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation). Students work to complete research undertaken and focus their energies on preparing drafts of chapters for their dissertations. Students undertake a wide range of research activities enabling them to engage directly with contemporary debates in history and examine and interpret diverse sources such as letters, diaries, newspapers, government, business, church and parish records, statistical sources and media representations of varying kinds etc...

Students studying this module are required to prepare a 12,000 word dissertation within the broad field of History and students choose to study diverse regions and periods. Some students elect to research an area to which they have already been introduced via a taught module, others develop themes initiated in Group Research Projects, and some students seize the opportunity to pursue a research interest that they have been unable to develop elsewhere in the curriculum.

Some examples of topics recently researched by students on this programme include:

  • Representations of Ireland and Irish communities in British media, 1960
  • Alehouses in early 17thC Society
  • Anglo-American relations and the Korean war
  • RAF Bomber command: the debate about targeting
  • The social context of sport in 20thC Northamptonshire
  • The experience of the British soldier in South Africa 1899-1902
  • Enoch Powell: the Northern Irish years
  • Attitudes of local Conservative associations to the Edwardian tariff reform debate
  • The impact of religious aspects of Charles I personal rule on Worcester
  • Exploring the BBC and its relationship with government, 1939-42
  • The Cecils and Elizabethan Court politics in the 1590s
  • The writings of Christopher Columbus
  • English anti-popery and responses to Catholic rebellion in Ireland, 1641.
  • Views of magic in post-reformation England
  • Infant mortality: trends and explanations, 1850-1914
  • The legitimacy of female monarchy in 16thC Britain
  • Anglo-American perceptions of the Soviet war effort, 1941-45
  • Defence preparations in Kent during the Napoleonic wars
  • English radical societies and the French revolution
  • British diplomacy in the American War of independence
  • Capital punishment in Britain after 1945
  • An assessment of the impact of America's musical revolution upon British music and society in the period 1955 to the Beatles
  • A contrast of working class and middle class women in the Suffragette movement
  • The administration of the poor law in Britain, with special reference to the position of women, 1870-1910
  • Conflict and cooperation in the peasant community of Wakefield
  • A comparison of the pipe rolls of the bishopric of Winchester, 1301-1409
  • Victorian sexual morality
  • Middle class spinster-hood in 19thC Britain
  • Economic forgery in medieval England
  • The incorporation of the medical profession into the NHS with particular reference to Birmingham
  • How was the devil represented through 16thC drama and literature?
  • Assisted passage to Australia in post-war Britain
  • Factional politics at the Court of Mary Queen of Scots
  • The road to Salvation: the spiritual journeys of Wesley's preachers
  • The campaign against outdoor relief and its impact on workhouse populations
  • American popular and commercial culture in interwar Britain 
  • Value: 40 credits
  • Assessment: 100% 12000 word dissertation due in late spring
  • Contact: total of up to 6 hours one-to-one supervision available