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Seminar 2

Seminar 2: An Imperial People?
  1. How and when did attitudes to race and empire change?
  2. To what extent was Britain still an imperial nation in the twentieth century?
  3. What happened to the language of patriotism over the course of the long nineteenth century?
  4. What are the implications of changes in the way historians have narrated nineteenth-century Britain for narrating the twentieth-century?
  5. Does McKibbin's analysis of why there was 'no Marxism in Great Britain' have broader implications for the narration of twentieth-century British history?

Seminar Reading

John Mackenzie, Propaganda and empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion (1984), introduction and chapt.1.

Richard Price, ‘Historiography, Narrative and the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of British Studies, 35 (1996), 220-56

Ross McKibbin, ‘Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain?’, English Historical Review, 99 (1984)

Hugh Cunningham, ‘The Language of Patriotism, 1750-1914’, History Workshop Journal, 12 (1981), 8-33

John Mackenzie, ‘The Popular Culture of Empire in Britain’, in Judith Brown and William Louis Roger (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Empire. Volume 4: The Twentieth Century (1999), 212-31

See also the IHR History of Focus webpage on Empire:

Further Reading


Antoinette Burton, ‘Who Needs the Nation? Interrogating “British” History, Journal of Historical Sociology, 10 (1997), 227-48.

* P.J. Cain & A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction, 1914-1990 (1993)

P.J. Cain & A.G. Hopkins, ‘Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Expansion Overseas II: New Imperialism, 1850-1945’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 40 (1987), 1-26

David Cannadine, Ornamentalism (2001)

Annie Coombes, Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (1994)

S. Constantine, Buy and Build: The Advertising Posters of the Empire Marketing Board (1986)

John Darwin, ‘The Fear of Falling: British Politics and Imperial Decline since 1900’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 36 (1986), 27-43

E.H.H. Green, The Crisis of Conservatism, 1880-1914 (1994)

Michael Howard, ‘Empire, Race, and War in pre-1914 England’, in Hugh Lloyd Jones et al (eds.), History and Imagination (1981), 340-51

Catherine Hughes, ‘Imperialism, Illustration, and the Daily Mail’, in Michael Harris & Alan Lee (eds.), The Press in English Society, pp. 187-200.

* John Mackenzie, Imperialism and Popular Culture (1981)

John Mackenzie, Popular Imperialism and the Military, 1850-1950 (1992)

John Mackenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (1984)

P.J. Marshall, ‘Imperial Britain’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 23 (1995)

Henry Pelling, ‘British Labour and British Imperialism’, in Henry Pelling, Popular Politics and Society in Late Victorian Britain (1979), pp. 82-100.

Paul Readman, ‘The Conservative Party, Patriotism, and British Politics: The Case of the General Election of 1900’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001), 107-45

Jeffrey Richards, ‘Patriotism with Profit: British Imperial Cinema in the 1930s’, in James Curran & Vincent Porter (eds.), British Cinema History (1983), pp. 245-56.

John Springhall, Youth, Empire, and Society: British Youth Movements, 1883-1940 (1976)

Andrew Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meaning of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997), 147-77

* Stuart Ward, British Culture and the End of Empire (2001)

 Why no Marxism?

Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘Working-Class Culture and Working-Class Politics in London: Notes on the Remaking of a Working Class’, Journal of Social History (1974)

Stuart Macintyre, ‘British Labour, Marxism and Working Class Apathy in the Nineteen Twenties , Historical Journal, 20 (1977), 479-96


Miles Taylor, ‘John Bull and the Iconography of Public Opinion in England, c. 1712-1929’, Past and Present, 110 (1993), 93-128

Miles Taylor, ‘Patriotism, History and the Left in Twentieth-Century Britain’, Historical Journal, 33 (1990)