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Themes in Modern History (HI998)

Module Convenor

Dr Anna Ross

Delighted to discuss ideas, problems, and assessment work with you at any point during term time. My office hours are Thursdays 1-2pm and Fridays 11-12noon in H0.12. No need to email in advance.

Context of Module
Module Aims
Outline Syllabus
Intended Learning Outcomes
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module

This module explores modernity - both as a historical period and an intellectual project. We explore a different aspect of modernity each week by reading one seminal historical or theoretical work, in dialogue with the broader historiographical debates to which it speaks. The module is relatively unusual in offering students the opportunity to engage in depth with a single text, in order to acquire a strong grasp of the intellectual interventions that have defined the modern period.

Module Aims
  • To gain an overview of themes and thinkers that have defined both the concept of modernity and the 'modern' period.
  • To challenge students to engage with seminal works in their entirety.
  • To gain the skills to locate individual intellectual interventions within wider historiographical debates.
What to Expect…

Each week students will meet with a different lecturer to study a text and theme relating to that faculty member’s particular area of expertise. Although there is a strong theoretical focus to the module it will complement rather than replicate the TSM module. Whereas TSM offers students an overview of how a concept such as, for example, gender, has been defined and used by historians, the Modern History core module will focus on a single text to explore in detail how that concept has been deployed in a particular historical and historiographical context, namely within modernity. We will be asking what is distinct about such concepts in the modern world – for example, how does gender in the modern world manifest itself differently from in the medieval world, and how might a historian of the modern period use the concept differently than a historian of an earlier period?
Students should come to the seminar having completed all the core reading and as much of the further reading as possible. They should think about the below questions in advance:

  • What are the key concepts around which this text is structured? Is this author defining them differently from other authors you have encountered?
  • How is the author applying them to either a particular historical period or area of study?
  • How might such concepts apply to your particular area of historical interest/ proposed dissertation topic?
Outline Syllabus

Talis link to our course is here

Week 4: Technology (James Poskett)
Week 5: Gender (Laura Schwartz)
Week 6: Reading Week (no seminars)
Week 8: Bodies (Claire Shaw)

Week 9: Post-colonialism (Aditya Sarkar)
Week 10: Urbanisation (Anna Ross)

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of an historian of the modern era.
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing.
  • Demonstrate the ability to undertake critical analysis.
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.

One 6,000 word essay, to be submitted via Tabula at 12 noon, week 10 of term 1.

This essay should engage with one of the themes of study. You will develop an essay title with the help of the module convenor in weeks one to four. In week five, all essay titles will be approved by the module convenor. Essay topics should be broad rather than narrow. They might result in a purely historiographical essay or in the past, some students have ventured to engage with a primary source base in the essay. This is not necessary to achieving distinction in the course, nor is it often feasible given you have only 10 weeks to research and write the essay. Rather, what we are looking for are intelligent, thoughtful, and lucid reflections on the theme you engage with. Further details will be given in the initial seminars of the year and marking criteria provided.