Spring 2024 History UN2342 section 001

Britain, Ireland and Empire, 1789-1901

19th C Britain & Ireland

Call Number 11584
Day & Time
TR 2:40pm-3:55pm
303 Hamilton Hall
Points 4
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required None
Instructor James Stafford
Method of Instruction In-Person
Course Description

Nineteenth-century Britain has traditionally been portrayed as the dominant power in the world of its time: one that forged a path towards various kinds of ‘modernity’ at home, while ruthlessly subjugating and exploiting the peoples subject to its colonial empire.

In this course, we will take a sceptical look at these claims. How coherent a political entity was ‘Britain’—a monarchy composed of at least four distinct and fractious nations, presiding over a scattered empire of trade, conquest and settlement? Who in Britain really benefited from the prosperity made possible by the dramatic industrial and imperial expansion that characterised the period? What forms of freedom, and what kinds of social control, were made possible by Victorian ideologies of ‘liberal’ government and laissez-faire economics? Why were British elites so often uncertain and divided when it came to questions of imperial rule—especially in Ireland, the oldest and nearest dependency of the empire?

In the course of asking these questions, we will of course be learning about the history of Britain itself, alongside the parts of the world it interacted with during the nineteenth century: something that, thanks to a wealth of primary sources (many of them now online) and a strong tradition of sophisticated historiography, will be a highly rewarding intellectual experience.

We will also, however, be learning and thinking about other things—the histories of capitalism, religion, gender, empire, fossil fuels, migration, agriculture, slavery and political ideology, among others—that are of a much more general, and contemporary relevance. We do not have to buy into simplistic narratives of nineteenth-century Britain’s importance or distinctiveness to recognize it as an interesting place for thinking through some of the central problems of global history and modern politics.

Web Site Vergil
Department History
Enrollment 21 students (35 max) as of 7:07PM Monday, July 22, 2024
Subject History
Number UN2342
Section 001
Division Interfaculty
Note Discussion HIST UN2341 REQUIRED
Section key 20241HIST2342W001