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Week 18

The Break-Up of Britain?

I. To what degree have the separate four nations of the United Kingdom exhibited national identities since 1900?
II. What held the United Kingdom together in the twentieth century; what divided it and threatened to break it up?
III. How has the British attitude towards European integration changed since the Second World War?

• On the prospect of a break-up of Britain: Andrew Marr, The Day Britain Died (2000).
• On the weakening of multinational ties towards the end of the century: Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain (1977); Andrew Marr, The Battle for Scotland (1992); D. Marquand, ‘How United is the Modern United Kingdom?, in Grant & Stringer, Uniting the Kingdom?; Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism (2000).
• On relations earlier in the century: J. Turner, ‘Letting Go: The Conservative Party and the End of the Union with Ireland’, in Grant & Stringer, Uniting the Kingdom?; R.J. Finlay, 'National Identity in Crisis: Politicians, Intellectuals and the "End of Scotland", 1920-1939', History (1994), 242-59; R. Finlay, ‘Pressure Group or Political Party? The Nationalist Impact on Scottish Politics, 1928-1945’, Twentieth Century British History, 3 (1992); C. Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism (1977); C. Harvie, No Gods and Precious Few Heroes: Scotland 1914-80 (1981); James Loughlin, Ulster Unionism and British National Identity since 1885 (1995); G. Williams, When was Wales? (1979); R. Merfyn Jones, ‘Beyond Identity: The Reconstruction of the Welsh’, Journal of British Studies, 31 (1992), 330-57; J. Ellis, ‘Reconciling the Celt: British National Identity, Empire and the 1911 Investiture of the Prince of Wales’, Journal of British Studies, 37 (1998). More generally: B. Crick, National Identities: The Constitution of the United Kingdom (1991); A. Grant & K. Stringer (eds.), Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History (1995).
• On the hidden subject of Englishness: E. Evans, ‘Englishness and Britishness: National Identities, c. 1790-1870’, in Grant & Stringer, Uniting the Kingdom?
• For a long term perspective on the ‘other’ as a unifying force: Linda Colley, 'Britishness and Otherness', Journal of British Studies, 31, 4 (1992); and focusing on an earlier period her Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (1994).
• On the blending of cultures as a unifier: K. Robbins, Nineteenth-Century Britain (1988); also his ‘An Imperial and Multinational Polity, 1832-1922, in Grant & Stringer (eds.), Uniting the Kingdom?
• On the European factor: Geoff Eley, 'Culture, Britain and Europe', Journal of British Studies, 31 (1992), 390-414; Stuart Woolf, 'Britain and Europe: Off-Shore or On-Board?', History Today (January, 1999), 8-15; J.G.A. Pocock, 'History and Sovereignty: The Historiographical Response to Europeanization in Two British Cultures', Journal of British Studies, 31 (1992), 358-89; K. Robbins, ‘Insular Outsider? British History and European Integration’ and ‘Images of the Foreigner in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Britain’, in his History, Religion and Identity in Modern Britain (1993); S. Greenwood, Britain and European Integration since the Second World War (1996); A. May, Britain and Europe since 1945 (1998); H. Young, This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair (1998); T. Kushner, We Europeans? Mass-Observation, ‘Race’ and British Identity in the 20th Century (2004).
• The increasingly fragile United Kingdom of the end of the century has arguably had a major impact on the writing of our national pasts. For an overview: R. Samuel, ‘Four Nations History’ in his Island Stories, pp. 21-40. For case studies of the ‘Celtic’ parts of the kingdom: B. Bradshaw, ‘Nationalism and Historical Scholarship in Modern Ireland’, Irish Historical Studies, 26 (1989); R.J. Finlay, ‘New Britain, New Scotland, New history? The Impact of Devolution on Scottish Historiography’, Journal of Contemporary History, 36 (2001), 383-93; G. Williams, ‘When was Wales?’ in his The Welsh in their History (1982). Looking towards an ‘unravelling of Britain’ which extends to an English ethnicity: R. Samuel, ‘Unravelling Britain’, in his Island Stories, pp. 41-73. On the Irish in Britain (is Irish History part of British history?): R. Swift & S. Gilley (eds.), The Irish in Britain 1815-1939 (1989); and for the interconnectedness of Irish and English history: R. Foster, Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History (1993). For attempts to recast British history accordingly: H. Kearney, The British Isles: a History of Four Nations (1989); and N. Davies, The Isles: A History (1999). How far however, is such a shift evident in the latest major history of ‘Britain’ in the twentieth century: P. Clarke, Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 (1996)? For histories which focus on the other national histories: K.O. Morgan, Wales: Rebirth of a Nation, 1880-1980 (1981); R. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600-1972 (1988).