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Britain in the Twentieth Century: A Social History (HI291)

Britain in the Twentieth Century

This 30 CATS undergraduate second-year option module explores the history of Britain in the twentieth-century from a social history perspective. It pays special attention to the experiences and everyday lives of ‘the people’ rather than focusing on the actions of a powerful elite. It introduces students to historiographical, methodological and political approaches associated with social history, such as ‘history from below’, labour history and the history of everyday life, critically examining them in light of feminist and postcolonial scholarship. It examines how gender, race and class united and divided ‘the British people’ and shaped British identity. It examines the roles of social change, war, Empire, culture, and politics in the construction of the nation. It considers the relationship between British identity and that of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, and it concludes with examination of the roles of history and the heritage industry in the narration of the nation. Throughout the module students will be asked to reflect upon their own position as students living and studying in Britain, and how the past has shaped the world we live in today.

Co-convened by Laura Schwartz (lecturer) and Simon Peplow (seminar leader).

Lectures: Tuesdays 4pm-5pm H5.45

Seminar Group 1: Thursdays 1pm-2pm

Seminar Group 2: Thursdays 3pm-4pm

Seminar Group 3: Thursdays 4pm-5pm

Preparatory/ summer reading:

James Vernon, Modern Britain, 1750 to the Present Day (Cambridge, 2017)

Satnam Virdee, Racism, Class and the Racialized Outsider (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

Sheila Rowbotham, A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States (Viking, 1997)