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EUH 4502: Modern England -- England Since the 1750s

Professor Steven Kreis

Florida Atlantic University, Davie
Spring 1995

COURSE OUTLINE: This course is designed to give the upper division undergraduate or graduate student a firm grasp of some of the major social, intellectual, economic, and cultural trends of English history since the mid-18th century. This course makes no pretense of covering every aspect of English history or society in detail. Instead, we will tend to concentrate on themes, personalities, ideas and events in order to render a broader appreciation of modern England. Although there are no stated prerequisites for this course, it is assumed that you have had Western Civilization or are at least familiar with the basic outlines of European history.

A DISCLAIMER: This is not a course about the kings and queens of England. Nor does it dwell on the supposed "genius" of Winston Churchill. This is a course, however, which deals with the rise of England as a world power in the 18th century, the success of England as the "Workshop of the World" in the 19th century, and the demise of that power in the 20th century. My own approach to the material is that of the intellectual, social and economic historian.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and informed participation at ALL class meetings is required. This means that you (1) show up to class on a regular basis and (2) complete your reading assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and from yours, is that you get involved, get interested and get motivated to study a nation whose history is quite similar to our own. Remember, education is little more than dialogue, and according to the master of dialogue, Socrates, good dialogue ought to improve both the instructor and the student. Above all, you will be challenged to think and discuss. When all is said and done, by the end of the semester you should have a good idea just what it means to be "English."

REQUIRED TEXTS: The following texts are required and should be available at the bookstore. With the exception of the book by Derek Jarrett, these books are also available at Barnes and Noble or Book Stop.

Derek Jarrett, England in the Age of Hogarth
Gordon Haight, ed., The Portable Victorian Reader
Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory
Richard Critchfield, An American Looks at Britain

ON READING HISTORY: Make no mistake, the study of history means reading. The books I have selected for this course represent a variety of ways in which to look at English history. The book by Jarrett is a "monograph," that is, it focuses on a specific era of history and explores that era from the standpoint of social history. Haight's book is a collection of Victorian documents which describe 19th century England. Fussell's approach to the Great War is that of the literary historian. In this case, he is examining the poet's response to war. In the end, Fussell has some profound insights into war in general that I think you may find interesting. Finally, Critchfield's book is, as its title suggests, an American's response to England in the late 1980s. If anything, this last book is journalism.

The reading may be at times difficult. Some of it may even be quite dull. Try not to worry so much about specific names, dates, or events. Think more in terms of broad-based themes and ideas. If you have any specific problems with the reading or desire some different texts, please do not hesitate to ask.

READING ASSIGNMENTS: The reading assignments might seem a bit hefty. Sometimes you will be reading about 100 pages per week. At other times, only 30 or 40 pages. Regardless, you must make every effort to keep up with the reading assignments. If you have not done the reading for a specific week, you should show up to class just the same.

GRADING: I will assign two or three take-home examinations during the course of the semester. These will be essay exams which ask you to comment and reflect upon topics we have dealt with in class. They will be announced in advance and you will have one week to complete them. For those of you interested in submitting a research paper in lieu of the exams, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your somewhat different requirements. Your final grade is based on a two variables: (1) performance on the take-home exams or research essay and (2) the level of your participation in class. At least 15% of your grade will be determined by this last variable.

THE INTERNET: There are a vast number of resources available on the Internet which you may utilize in adjunct to the requirements of this course. While much of the fun (and tedium) of the Internet consists in locating these resources, I can help to point you in the right direction. For instance, there are numerous USENET news groups devoted to British politics, economics and social history. There are also at least 10 mailing lists to which you may subscribe. The most impressive resources can be located through the World Wide Web (WWW) although you will need a "browser" such as Cello or Mosaic to access them. If any of you are interested in learning about the Net or about the resources to be found there, please do not hesitate to ask me.


JANUARY 14 (1) Course Introduction: The Peculiarities of the English
(2) William Hogarth: The Artist as an Agent of Social Change
JANUARY 21 (1) Newton, Locke, Voltaire and the Enlightenment in England
(2) Religious Enthusiasm and the Importance of Nonconformity: The Dissenters
READINGS: Jarrett, pp.11-77
JANUARY 28 (1) 18th Century English Political Stability and the Alternative Structure of Politics
(2) "Wilkes and Liberty!": The Politics of Propaganda
READINGS: Jarrett, pp.78-127
FEBRUARY 4 (1) The French Revolution and English History
(2) Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke
READINGS: Jarrett, pp.128-197
FEBRUARY 11 (1) First Industrial Nation: Causes and Origins
(2) First Industrial Nation: Critiques
READINGS: Haight, pp.48-53, 60-67, 69-77, 115-150, 159-164
FEBRUARY 18 The "Abdication of the Governors": The New Poor Law and the Origins of the British Welfare State
READINGS: Haight, pp.213-218, 231-254, 263-275, 281-306
FEBRUARY 25 (1) England at Mid-Century: The Crystal Palace and the Workshop of the World
(2) Middle Class Social Values: The "Ethics" of Victorian Behavior
READINGS: Haight, pp.309-316, 319-359, 365-391
MARCH 4 Who WERE the Victorians?: Values, Ethics and other Externals
READINGS: Haight, pp.128-146, 179-210, 419-443, 483-490
MARCH 18 (1) The Last Gasp of Victorian England: The Edwardian Age, 1890-1914
(2) England's Decline, 1870-1914
READINGS: Fussell, pp.3-190
MARCH 25 (1) The Causes of the Great War
(2) The War at Home and the End of Laissez-Faire?
READINGS: Fussell, pp.270-335
APRIL 1 (1) The "Lost Generation": English Literature Between the Wars
(2) The Inter-War Years I: Affluence
READINGS: Critchfield, An American Looks at Britain
APRIL 8 The Inter-War Years II: The Myth and Reality of the Hungry Thirties
READINGS: Critchfield, An American Looks at Britain
APRIL 15 (1) The "Phony War" and the "People's War"
(2) Post-War Reconstruction
(3) Popular Culture
READINGS: Critchfield, An American Looks at Britain
APRIL 22 (1) "This is the Land of Hope and Glory"
(2) The Past Twenty Years
READINGS: Critchfield, An American Looks at Britain

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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis
Last Revised -- April 13, 2012