The Peculiar Modernity of Britain, 1750 to the Present

History 151C

Spring 2016
Day & Time: 
TuTh 200-330

151C Modern Britain, 1750 to the present. This class will examine how Britain became modern. It will explore everything from the industrial revolution to deindustrialization, the spectacular growth and mobility of populations, urbanization and suburbanizaiton, the emergence of the idea of the individual and nuclear family, the expansion and eventual collapse of an empire upon which the sun once famously never set.  The class explores a number of key questions.  How did Britain become modern and yet remain a deeply traditional society unable to rid itself of ancient institutions like the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church? How did Britons think of themselves as an essentially liberal people, bringing trade, prosperity, democracy and civilization to the rest of the world and yet become associated with the spread of immense poverty, imperial violence and exploitation. And how did this liberalism lay the foundations for the enormous growth of Britain's decolonizing welfare and security state in the twentieth century let alone the emergence of multi-culturalism and neo-liberalism?  The class combines economic, social, political and cultural history.

Course Books

Britain since 1688. A Nation in the World by Barczewski, Stephanie et al Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415506601 Optional