James Vernon

Professor

Britain, Late Modern Europe


I moved to Berkeley in 2000 having previously studied and taught at the University of Manchester since 1984. I am a historian of modern Britain with broad comparative and theoretical interests in the relationship between local, national, imperial and global histories.

Trained as a political historian of nineteenth century Britain, my first publications — Politics and the People (1993; reissued in paperback in 2009) and an edited collection of essays Re-Reading the Constitution (1996) — helped outline an agenda for what a cultural history of British politics might look like. In particular, they addressed the cultural practices and forms of subjectivity upon which the British version of democracy relied during the nineteenth century. My next book, Hunger. A Modern History (2007), explored how and why hunger came to be understood as a problem that had to be addressed in imperial Britain. It was also an attempt to imagine what social history and histories of welfare might look like after the cultural and imperial turns.

A collection of essays, The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain, co-edited with Simon Gunn in honor of our graduate adviser Patrick Joyce, was published in 2011. My next book, Distant Strangers. How Britain Became Modern (2014), sought to develop an account of modernity rooted in singular social conditions rather than the logic of capitalism. Last year I published the fourth and final volume of a Cambridge History of Britain series of textbooks, Modern Britain, 1750 to the Present. It outlines how Britain arrived at its nasty neoliberal, post-Brexit, present by tracing the rise, fall and reinvention of liberal political economy since the eighteenth century. An NEH funded project on the making of homo economicus and the nature of neoliberalism in late twentieth century Britain has given rise to the begining of a new book idea about the global history of late Britain told through Heathrow Airport.

I am editor of the Berkeley Series in British Studies published by the University of California Press and am on the editorial boards of Social History, Twentieth Century British History, History Compass and the Journal of British Studies.

Although I have not won nearly enough prestigious fellowships or prizes, my research has been supported by the British Academy, the ESRC, the ACLS and the NEH.

I am a board member of the Berkeley Faculty Association and am broadly interested in the neoliberal transformation of our universities and its consequences for us all, but especially for undergraduate and graduate students.


Representative Publications

"When Stuart Hall was White"  Public Books 1.23.2017

"More secondary modern than post-modern: Patrick Joyce and the peculiarities of liberal modernity in Britain" Journal of Social and Cultural History 14 (September 2016)

"The history of Britain is dead; long live a global history of Britain"  History Australia, 13, 1 (2016).

"Proposed pension limits will lead to UC's decline"  Sacramento Bee, 18 February 2016

"On being modern and other things"  Victorian Studies, 57, 3 (Winter, 2015): 515-522 — part of a forum on Distant Strangers

(with Tehila Sasson) "Practising the British way of famine: technologies of relief, 1770–1985" European History Review — Revue europeenne d'histoire (2015), 1-15

"UC tuition is no 'Robin Hood' scheme" The Daily Cal, 3 March 2015

Distant Strangers. How Britain Became Modern (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2014), 184pp

"Who will pay for the University of California?"  Sacramento Bee, 16 November 2014.

(with Colleen Lye) "The Erosion of Faculty Rights" The Chronicle of Higher Education, 19 May 2014

(with Colleen Lye) "Paying more yet getting even less"  The Daily Cal, 4 March 2014

(with Collen Lye) "School first, sports second"  The Daily Cal, 24 September 2013

(with Chris Rosen) "Fixing the UC retirement system time bomb"  The Daily Cal, 20 August 2013

"Open online courses — an avalanche that might just get stopped" The Guardian, 30 April 2013

(edited with Simon Gunn) The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain (University of California: Berkeley, 2011), 286 pp

"Canary in the coalmine"  The Times Higher Education, 1 December 2011

co-ed (with Colleen Lye and Chris Newfield), "The Humanities and the Crisis of The Public University"  Representations, 116,1 (Fall 2011)

"What was liberalism and who was its subject? Or, will the real liberal subject please stand up?"  Victorian Studies, Volume 53, Number 2, Winter 2011, pp. 303-310

'The state they are in: History and public education in the UK',  AHA Perspectives, 49, 3 (March, 2011)

'Hunger, the social and states of welfare in imperial Britain' Occasions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanties, 2 (2011)

"Facts on fees and the fallacies of 'fairness'"  OpenDemocracy.net, 19 December 2010

"School history gets the TV treatment"  The Guardian, 16 November 2010

"The End of the Public University in England"  Inside Higher Education, Blog, 27 October 2010.

"The Local, the Imperial and the Global: Repositioning Twentieth-century Britain and the Brief Life of its Social Democracy"  Twentieth Century British History, 21, 3 (2010), 404-418.


Courses

History 151C — Britain, 1750 to the Present

History 190 — Soccer: A Global History

History 280B — After Empire

History 280U — Britain and the World since 1750

Hitory 280B/285B — The Stuart Hall Project

History 283 — Becoming a Historian?


Additional Links

UC Berkeley Library

The British Library

The Institute of Historical Research, London

North American Conference on British Studies

The Archives Hub

Britain's National Archives

British Online Archives

Parliamentary Papers Online

Hansard

Old Bailey Online

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Making of the Modern World – Economic Literature

Mass Observation Online

Empire Online

British Library Nineteenth Century Newspapers Online

City and Trade Directories 1750-1919

British War Diaries

Nineteenth Century Digital Index

British Cartoon Archive

Science and Society Picture Archive

The Women's Library

Wellcome Library

LSE Pamphlet Collection

BBC

The Guardian

British Pathe Films

Marion Kaplan's photos of decolonizing British Africa

British Documents on the End of Empire

London Lives 1690 to 1800

Measuring Worth since 1209

UK Public Spending Data

British Newspaper Archive

Professor James Vernon

Contact

2214 Dwinelle Hall

jvernon@berkeley.edu

Office Hours