Britain 1848-1997

History 151C

Fall 2005
102 Moffitt
Day & Time: 
TuTh 12:30-2

This lecture course will provide a survey of British history over the last 150 years. We will ask how Britain became the first modern, industrial nation and how it acquired the largest empire? What lessons does its history
have for America in the twentieth first century? Did the rapidity with which Britain assembled the modern world - with representative elections, industries, colonies, cities, rapid transport, mass communication and popular culture - sow the seeds of its later demise? How do we reconcile
Britain's precocious modernity with the persistent influence of its ancient traditions, its monarchy and its aristocracy? The focus of the course will be on the broadly 'liberal' mentalities and mechanisms of government with
which Britons came to manage and understand the great transformations of modern life, both at home and across the empire. If Britons thought of
themselves as an essentially liberal people, bringing free trade, prosperity, democracy and civilization to the rest of the world how did they also come to be associated with tradition, immense poverty, and imperial
exploitation? How do the liberal solutions invented for managing modern life during the nineteenth century still shape the lives of people in Britain (and in many other parts of the world)? Is decline a sufficient way of understanding what has happened to Britain during the twentieth century given that its people are better off than ever before and now live in a multi-racial and mulit-faith society? How is Britain's sense of itself still informed by its imperial history, or its relationships to America and Europe? Readings will consist of primary web resources and secondary reading through set texts. Assessment will be by attendance (10%), mid-term
(40%) and a final examination (50%). Students will also have the option of writing a paper and presenting it to the rest of the class.


New Room! Class meets in 210 Wheeler on 9/8 then moves to new room on 9/13.