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The British Problem: Empire, Conflict and National Identities (HI275-15)

Module Tutors: Dr Naomi Pullin and Dr Imogen Peck
Office Hours: Naomi: Mondays 1-2; Imogen Thursdays 11-12


Lectures: Monday 11-12 in H1.48
Seminars: Group 1 (with Naomi) Monday 12-1 in OC0.05; Group 2 (with Imogen) Thursday 10-11 in H0.56.

Seminar Groups Pages:

Group 1 (Naomi, Monday 12-1 in OC0.05)

Group 2 (Imogen, Thursday 10-11 in H0.56)

Module overview:

This 15CAT second-year early modern option module will explore the attempts of early modern monarchs and governments to gain hegemony over the British Isles and establish an imperial dominion beyond the Atlantic. It will focus on the connections between the kingdoms between the reigns of Elizabeth I and Charles I, and show how relations across the British Isles were affected by conflicts over the powers of crown and church, and challenged by splits between rival religious communities. These tensions, as the module will highlight, were grafted onto ancient national, cultural and ethnic fault lines. The module will look at how the experience of civil war, unrest and revolution took place within a larger international setting, studying the impact of civil and religious divisions on the development of the overseas empire, and highlighting the competing European affinities that impinged upon subjects of the three kingdoms. The module will focus on the experiences of the different religious, national and ethnic groupings within the British Isles and British America, and will encompass the history of culture and ideas, as well as religion and politics. While following a chronological structure, it will examine the longer underlying themes of religious and national consciousness, and consider how the question of British, English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh identity was explored by poets, scholars and artists within the period. The aim will be to fix the events under consideration within wide horizons, with students encouraged to assess the British kingdoms and empire in a comparative framework, alongside the experiences of other European states. Students will explore accessible primary sources, while entering into critical examinations of the rich historiography underlying the module.