These modules, aimed at second-year students and normally taught by weekly 2-hour seminars (of c. 15 students), typically examine a particular historical theme in detail. Assessment is now two coursework essays of 2,500 words each (50%) and one 3-hour examination 50%). As with HIST6xxx modules, teachers may require students to make other unassessed contributions. Second-year students may take a module of this type from the menu of ‘Group 2’ modules available from other colleges.
- HIST2105: Roman Democracy: Myth or Reality?
This course examines this controversial question of whether the late Roman Republic was a democracy by investigating Roman politics through the lens of classical political theory, applying ideas about liberty, citizenship, equality, and form of government to the real political practices of the Romans of the first century B.C. Beginning with the political thought of influential ancient authors such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, the course progresses with an in-depth analysis of republican ideology, and then aims to contextualise these values within the everyday political environment of first-century Rome. The course continues by examining the ways in which the image of the roman republic has been constructed and applied across the centuries, tracing its metamorphosis in the hands of writers like Machiavelli, and the English and American revolutionaries.
- HIST2105: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2105A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2105B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2108: Understanding the Early Mesopotamian World
This course has two intertwined themes: the ways in which people made sense of the world in one of history's first urban societies; and the ways in which that society has been interpreted since its rediscovery some 200 years ago. First we will study how literacy and numeracy developed in the cities of southern Iraq (Mesopotamia), some 5–6000 years ago, as a means of quantifying, classifying and – perhaps most importantly – controlling the world and thereby changing it. Then we will focus on the training of scribes, scholars and intellectuals in the third and early second millennium BC. From a modern perspective, we can say that they learned a variety of literary works – a rather bewildering variety at first sight – as well as mathematics, law, and of course the complexities of cuneiform writing. But how did this cohere into a useful education, and who and what was that education for? Next we turn to understandings of the body. Before the late 18th century (AD!) medicine was largely ineffective, yet doctors and healers were highly valued in most, if not all, ancient and pre-modern societies, not least Mesopotamia. We will take an anthropological view of medicine to try and explain this apparent paradox. Then we will ask how, in a world controlled by unpredictable gods, was the future ever knowable? Various methods of divination are attested in Mesopotamia from at least the third millennium BC, each serving a different set of clientele and social functions. We will investigate how divine will was discovered and interpreted, through observation of the natural world. Running parallel to these explorations of the ancient world, we will consider how big themes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century history, such as exploration and war, empire and race, religion and science, shaped and reshaped popular and learned views of the ancient Middle East, and continue to do so today.
- HIST2108: 2x 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3 hour examination (50%)
- HIST2108 (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1x 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2108 (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2x 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2202: Rome 300-1000AD: Portraits of a City, Reflections of a Changing World
Through a focus on the city of Rome, we will explore a number of themes of key importance in the general history of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. These include: the end of the imperial world; the relationship between Pagan and Christian élites; the rise of Papal authority; the effects the structural changes in the Mediterranean trade had on the city’s market system; the intellectual and artistic productions; the relationship that the Popes had with the city’s aristocracy and the main powers of the time (Byzantine emperors, Lombard kings, Frankish kings and emperors); the Carolingian renaissance; the Ottonian empire. During the year we will use a wide range of written sources (available in translation) and archaeological evidence from excavations carried out in Rome in the last 15-20 years. During the year we will see how the structures of the antique Mediterranean world survived for longer than commonly thought and then transformed, declined and eventually collapsed. Moreover, we will study the physical, socio-economic, political, cultural and religious transformations that occurred in a city that, in spite of time, wanted to continue being celebrated as eternal.
- HIST2202: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2202A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2202B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2205: Islamic Empires in a Comparative Perspective: The Foundations of Mediterranean Politics in the Age of the Crusades
In this course we examine medieval Islamic empires, and compare them to polities in the Christian sphere of the Mediterranean world. We will be at the cutting edge of historical debate, since historians have only recently adopted such a comparative perspective on the Mediterranean world in this period. Our starting point is the observation that the age of the crusades (c.1100-1500) saw a succession of many states that were often fragile and riven by divisions. We will not only look at the high politics of these states, but also investigate the foundations of their political cultures: their elites, cities, religious majorities and minorities, legal systems, as well as commercial and economic networks. We will ask to what extent these often transcended the lives of particular regimes, and looked similar across the great divide of Christian and Islamic civilizations in the world of the Great Sea.
- HIST2205: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2205A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2205B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2302: The Industrial Revolution in Britain
The 'industrial revolution' was one of the three or four most important transformations in human history, and Britain was the first society to experience it. At heart that transformation was economic, a profound increase in both outputs and productivity. But crucially it had important social, cultural, intellectual and political dimensions: class, gender and generational relations changed considerably; new attitudes towards risk and consumption were forged; radical new ideas proliferated about the economy and the environment, the individual and the collective; and both state and empire played important roles in this 'great transformation'. This course, therefore, locates economic developments within a wider framework and to explore how dramatically yet uncertainly Britain changed in the 130 years or so before 1830. The course is based on secondary sources, including plenty of tables and graphs. It is taught via weekly seminars. In addition to assessments, compulsory non-assessed formative coursework, such as book reviews, will also be set.
- HIST2302: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2302A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2302B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2310: State, Sovereignty and Liberty: The History of Political Thought in Early Modern Europe
This course will focus on the most important political discourses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Students will engage in close interpretation of key texts of this period as well as examining the wider historical context. The main topics of the course are resistance, revolution, natural law and absolute monarchy; commercial society, self-interest and the passions; the social contract; theories of modern liberty and the modern republic; European order and peace.
NB: Students are not permitted to take HIST2310 if they have previously taken either HIST7334 or HIST7335. Similarly, students selecting either of these courses this year are not permitted to take HIST2310 as well.
- HIST2310: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2310A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2310B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2312: Religious Reformations and Popular Piety, 1450-1650
This course examines the revolutionary changes in religious life in Europe between the late Middle Ages and the seventeenth century. It concentrates on the upheavals associated with the Protestant and Catholic Reformation (the latter known also as the Counter-Reformation), but places these in a much broader context, examining the role of religion in the social, cultural, and political world of early modern Europe. The course does not treat religious issues solely in theological or ecclesiastical terms, but also in terms of piety – the ‘varieties of religious experience’ Europeans had, and community – the social and spiritual bonds formed by religion. It pays attention to the ‘common folk’ as much as to famous leaders, and looks for long-term shifts behind the era’s revolutionary events.
- HIST2312: 2x 2,500 word essays (50%) and a 3 hour examination (50%)
- HIST2312A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1x 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2312B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2x 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2319: Enlightenment and Revolution: Europe 1715-1805
This course provides an introduction to cultural, social, intellectual and political histories of Continental Europe in the eighteenth century. The course will necessarily chart a selective route through the period, but it hopes to highlight a number of interconnected themes, focusing on the relationship between ideas, institutions and practices and on problems of change and continuity, broadly conceived. These were vital questions for eighteenth-century writers, who often considered their own era in relation to some historic or mythic past and who wondered how to effect (or, reverse) change. Moreover, this was a past that was often imagined still to exist in some other part of the world (North and South America, the South Pacific or Asia). The modern and the ancient, that is, were spatial as well as temporal categories. This course addresses these issues across a range of topics, from the building of St. Petersburg and the encouragement of agriculture, to the expulsion of the Jesuits and the outbreak of the French Revolution. Lectures will introduce general topics and areas of historiographical debate, while discussion seminars will focus on the reading of texts and consideration of various contexts. Students will be expected to handle a range of sources - including fiction, ‘philosophical’ writing, and visual materials - in addition to more conventional historical documents and accounts.
- HIST2319: 2x 2,500 word essays (50%) and a 3 hour examination (50%)
- HIST2319A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1x 4,000 word essays (100%)
- HIST2319B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2x 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2414: American History in Hollywood Film
During the last few years, historians of the United States have come to pay increasing attention to film as a means of commenting on and interpreting the American past. This course will analyse the representation of American historical themes and periods in a selection of Hollywood feature films. It will involve the close analysis of a number of film texts and the study of critical commentary on the films themselves. Emphasis will be placed on answering the following questions: what is the interpretation of history presented in the film? Does that presentation grow out of or differ from prior historical scholarship? How does critical commentary on the film, both at the time of its release and later, illuminate contemporary historical debates? Does the film itself have any historical consequences? What particular factors, both internal and external to Hollywood itself, contributed to the view of history offered in the film? Does the representation of history in the film accord with traditional or current historical scholarship? Themes and issues to be dealt with in the course include the American Revolution, slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction, Native Americans, immigration and urbanization, problems of the 1920s and 1930s, HUAC and McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and the Watergate scandal.
- HIST2414: 2x 2,500 word essays (50%) and a 3 hour examination (50%)
- HIST2414A (Term 1 Affiliates only): 1x 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2414B (Term 2 Affiliates only): 2x 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2418: History, Memory, Democracy: Politics and the Past in Latin America, c.1970 to the Present
How do debates about history affect politics and citizenship? In this class we will explore this question in modern Latin America, focusing on the 1970s to the present, as Latin America experienced a shift from authoritarian (usually military) rule to civilian democracy. The class has three main aims: to introduce students to key theoretical and interdisciplinary perspectives on history, memory, and temporality; to allow students to analyze different types of knowledge about the past, their relationship to each other, and to processes of political change; to deepen students' understanding of modern Latin America. Topics include: state violence and human rights, truth commissions and transitional justice, indigenous histories and politics, film, neoliberalism, literature and testimonio. Some other questions we will consider: What kind of historical knowledge was possible under authoritarian rule? What truths are produced by truth commissions? Do debates about the past matter for democratic citizenship? What is the relationship between official history and popular culture? What role do professional historians play in democratization? Has democracy allowed for a more open, inclusive debate about the past, or has it fostered public amnesia? Some background in Latin American history is useful but not essential.
The first half of the class focuses on the theme that has dominated scholarship so far: political violence, and official efforts to deal with its legacy. Later we broaden the perspective and look at how debates about the past have shaped social movements, culture, economic policy, migration.
- HIST2418: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2418A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2418B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2423: Social Change, New Social Movements and Politics in Britain after 1945
This module looks at the interaction of social change and politics in a wide sense in postwar Britain, integrating social and cultural change with cultural politics. The key question will be 'How did social and cultural change in postwar Britain change the patterns and parameters of politics?'
This module will introduce you to changing thinking about class, race and gender among political parties in Britain. We will pay close attention to political thought, political ideologies and political propaganda in postwar politics. But this module involves far wider cast of characters than simply Westminster politicians and political parties. To understand postwar politics we need to examine the changing social and cultural bases of politics, and the new social movements that had their roots in the 1950s. We will look at the social, cultural and generational changes that underpinned the appearance of the ‘new social movements’ and ‘identity politics’, beginning with CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) in the 1950s. New social movements did not simply spring out of new attitudes. Material factors are a vital context. We will look at how ‘identities’, subjectivities and construction of individual ‘interest’ were changing in the postwar period. How did the role of class, race, gender, generation, and national identity in politics change after 1945?
In 1951, on a turnout of 82.5%, the Tories and Labour together took 96.8% of all votes cast. In 2010, on a turnout of 65.1%, the two parties took 65.4% of all votes cast. A large part of the vote had gone to apathy, the Lib Dems, the Greens, UKIP, Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, and a selection of other small parties. Why? Only by studying social and cultural change alongside politics can we hope to answer this question. There will be a strong interdisciplinary flavour to the module: we will read work from political scientists, sociologists and philosophers alongside historians’ work.
- HIST2423: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2423A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2423B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2424: The Cultural Cold War in Europe 1917-1989
The Cold War in Europe was fought not on the battlefield but in the cultural domain. In this war of ideas and culture, intellectuals – artists, writers, philosophers, filmmakers, musicians etc. – were on the front line. This module will examine how and why this came to be. To answer this question it is necessary to reject the conventional post-war timeframe through which the Cold War is usually analysed. Instead we will begin by exploring how Soviet Russia sought to influence western public opinion by exporting communist culture and mobilising western intellectuals behind Soviet interests during the 1920s and 1930s. This interwar Soviet cultural offensive provided the model upon which much of America’s Cold War cultural diplomacy was based. After the war, disillusionment with Stalinism drew some former intellectual supporters of the USSR into a cultural crusade against communism that was covertly funded by the CIA. Others, like Picasso, were drawn closer to communism following the Soviet Union’s role in the defeat of Nazism. As allied victory turned into Cold War rivalry, art, music, film and literature were mobilised in a battle for the hearts and minds of Europeans on either side of the iron curtain. Using a wide range of sources, we will study the origins and development of this struggle and debate some of the ethical issues that it raises about the relationship between culture and power.
- HIST2424: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2424A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2424B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- HIST2426: Africa, Decolonization and Internationalism
In 1955, delegates from the Gold Coast, which would soon become the independent nation of Ghana, attended the first large-scale Afro-Asian conference alongside representatives from Indonesia, India, China, and other nations. The Bandung Conference is just one example of the importance of international linkages in the era of decolonization. This course will address decolonization in Africa within an international context and examine how African nationalism was forged in an interconnected world. Students will learn how African political thinkers engaged with, contributed to, and were shaped by intercontinental currents of thought, including Pan-Africanism, Pan-Arabism, communism, socialism, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
- HIST2424: 2 X 2,500 word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
- HIST2424A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 1 X 4,000 word essay (100%)
- HIST2424B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays (40/60%)
- SEHI2002: Crown, Church and Estates in Central Europe, 1500-1700
By the end of the fifteenth century, the estate of nobility had accumulated substantial political power in Central Europe. Through the institutions of the local diets and counties, the nobilities had encroached upon the reserved rights of the crown and reinforced their legal jurisdiction over the peasantry. This course will examine how the newly-installed Habsburg rulers began the slow process of recovering the authority of the crown, which by the seventeenth century had not only obtained a high degree of confessional uniformity within its territories but had also completed the expulsion of the Turks from Central Europe.
Although this paper concentrates on kingship, confession and noble estates in Central Europe (defined as the Austrian hereditary provinces and the lands of the Bohemian and Hungarian crowns, including Transylvania and Croatia), there will be some comparative study of relevant developments in surrounding territories, and attention will also be paid to the 'economic estates' of peasants and townsmen, to the alchemical and mystical concepts of government dominant in Central Europe at this time, to the Turkish wars, and to forms of government within the area of Turkish occupation.
Please visit the SEHI2002 webpage for more information:
- SEHI2008: The Fall and Rise of the Polish Nation, 1648-1921
This course charts the changing meanings of ‘Poland’ and ‘Polish’ over an extended period, the protracted decline and fall of one ‘Polish’ state and the extended struggle to resurrect another, as well as the social and cultural transformations affecting the people who were at various times considered to constitute the ‘Polish nation’. It does so in the context of changing Jewish, ‘Lithuanian’ and ‘Ruthenian/Ukrainian’ identities, whose threads intertwined with, and were later painfully disentangled from, those of ‘Poland’.
The course begins with an exploration of the ethnically and religiously variegated ‘Commonwealth of the Two Nations, Polish and Lithuanian’, at the zenith of its prestige and territorial extent in 1648. It then analyses the impact of of seven disastrous decades of warfare, paying special attention to the confessional and national identities of the Commonwealth’s citizens, especially the role of ‘Sarmatian’ culture. Calls for reform gathered strength from about 1730, including the reconsideration and reconfiguration of the idea of the nation, to include, ultimately, all inhabitants of the Commonwealth. Before this vision could be effected, the Commonwealth had been partitioned. The implications for ‘Poland’ of armed efforts to resurrect the state, the debate on the peasantry, as well as the efforts undertaken to protect and encourage the spread of Polish culture, and to shape and inculcate a national memory, will be the focus of the next part of the course. The failure of the uprising of 1863-64 soon led to further reconfigurations of the nation in an age of rapid population growth and industrialization. In the harsh world of pseudo-Darwinian competition between nations, and faced with the siren calls of internationalist socialism, the ‘modernization’ of a population into a self-conscious ‘nation’ seemed more necessary than ever to many nationalists. The final part of the course examines the ideologies and programmes of Polish political groupings, notably the National Democrats and the Socialists, on the eve of the First World War and the struggle to achieve them in the course of Poland’s resurrection in 1914-21.
Please visit the SEHI2008 webpage for more information:
- SEHI2010: Dictatorship as experience: The Coexistence of Consensus and Refusal in the German Democratic Republic
In March 1990 the East German writer Stefan Heym feared that the GDR could wind up as ‘footnote in world history’. As far as historiography is concerned, this prophecy turned out to be too pessimistic.
The opening of the archives resulted in an upsurge in historical analyses of the East German state and thereby new insights into its politics, culture and society. However, the availability of new material did not result in historical consensus about the nature of the socialist system. The revival of totalitarian theory, with its focus on the instruments of repression and control, was challenged by models that sought to understand GDR society from the inside, as a ‘participatory dictatorship’ (Fulbrook), in which individuals negotiated a ‘normal life’ within the boundaries of the regime. Nevertheless, focusing on cultural aspects of the GDR run into danger to downplay the ever-present confinement and the subtle practices of intimidation.
The seminar aims for a holistic approach to the history of the German Democratic Republic. Hence it covers political, economic, social and cultural issues as well.
Please go to the SEHI2010 webpage for more information: