Postwar Britain: The transition from Imperial Powerhouse to Multicultural What?

History 151C

Summer 2011
First 6 Week Session
109 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuWTh 10-1230P

This course will consider the radical changes Britons have experienced since their self-conceived glorious victory over totalitarianism in 1945. While incorporating and exploring the traditional political and economic narrative, we will focus especially on social and cultural change: the welfare state, the sudden arrival of immigrants of color, the teenage revolution, the sexual revolution, Americanization, punk and the road both to and from Thatcherism. A broad array of music and film selections will be incorporated into the course. We will ask the following questions among others: Was Britain's decline after World War Two inevitable? Did it indeed decline? What role did a centuries-old empire play in the postwar era? How did ordinary people react to the new Britain? Is Britain best represented today by Lady Diana and the Windsors or The Arctic Monkeys and David Beckham?


Dr. John Corbally currently teaches as a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for the Humanities at Stanford University. He has also taught courses in Irish, European, and World History at UC Davis, Mills College, Menlo College, and Las Positas College. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Differing Shades of Derision: Irish, Caribbean, and South Asian Immigration to the Heart of the British Empire, 1948-1971. John earned a B.A in European History since 1500, an M.A in World History since 1500 and a PhD in British Imperial History.