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‘The Two Island Empires’: Britain and Japan, 1850-1940 (HI2E6-15)

Module Convenor: Dr Robert Fletcher

This module examines the turbulent history of relations between two self-styled ‘island empires’: Britain and Japan. It covers the period from the end of Tokugawa rule to the outbreak of the Second World War, focusing on major episodes that drove forward changes in the relationship between the two countries. Throughout, it examines the testimony of the merchants, sailors, scholars, diplomats and others whose lives were shaped by Anglo-Japanese encounters, within the broader historical frameworks of the growth of both British and Japanese imperialism in East Asia, and the profound changes within the Japanese state. Topics include: the ‘re-opening’ of Japan and the Meiji restoration; the Iwakura Embassy and the project of Meiji state-building; cultural exchange; British observations of the Japanese at war; interwar tensions and the war in the Pacific; and how Anglo-Japanese relations in this period in particular are being remembered and recalled in Japan today. Using selected historical accounts and primary sources, this module provides a window onto landmark events in the Anglo-Japanese relationship, and explores how these were understood by contemporaries and participants alike.

This is a 15 CATS, 2nd Year Option Module.