The Making (and Breaking?) of Britain

History 103C.001

Fall 2017
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 12-2
Class Number: 

Britain now seems poised on a precipice: will the geo-political entity that has been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland survive far into the twenty-first century or will it dissolve among its multiple states? The answer to that question belongs to the future. What this class can ask is: what is "Britain" anyway? How did it come to be? What are its fault lines? This seminar will move quickly through the early history of Roman and Celtic Britain before focusing on the Kingdoms of England, Ireland, and Scotland; the Union of the Two Crowns under James VI and I in 1603; Scotland's eventual (and, to some, dubious) union with England; the long history of violence in Ireland; and some of the intricate complications of empire. The structure of this course is about kingdoms, nations, and nationalism. However, in order to give that structure meaningful content, the course will emphasize studies of identity, religion, self-determination, and the messy cultures that have created these arbitrary (but somehow real) geo-political categorizations that affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people today.