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Thematic modules

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 History Survey 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.

Please note that one-term only affiliate students take the 15-credit versions of Thematic modules. The assessment pattern for these half-year versions are detailed within each module box below

The modules below are due to run in the 2020/21 academic year:

Please note: This module description is accurate at the time of publication. Amendments may be made prior to the start of the academic year.

 

Asia, the Aegean, Europe: dividing the world in ancient Greece

DR PAOLA CECCARELLI

The binary opposition between ‘West’ and ‘East’, Europe and Asia, is a standard trope of world history. Usually traced back to Greek responses to the Persian Wars in the fifth-century BC, this geopolitical division (and its attending ideologies) is one of the most influential legacies of ancient Greek history. In this module, we shall explore when, how, and why the ideas of ‘Asia’ and ‘Europe’ (as well as related geographical entities such as ‘Hellas’) emerged – as part of a more general investigation of how the Greeks (and their neighbours) imagined, mapped, and divided their world. Reconstruction of these ‘spatial imaginaries’ from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period will yield fascinating insights into the interaction of (military) power, (geographical) knowledge, and the cultural construction of (geopolitical) space – and, not least, reveal the Europe–Asia divide as in various ways fluid and contingent.

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0023: 30 credits
HIST0509: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment method:

HIST0023: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0509: (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0509: (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

A Global History of Socialist Ideas, 1800-1980

DR JAKUB BENEŠ

Socialism has been one of the most influential ideologies of the modern era. Offering compelling arguments for economic reform and material redistribution, it has also provided its adherents with strong cultural identities and new ways of looking at the world. Yet the meaning of socialism has varied historically according to time and place, reflecting a very wide range of concerns and aspirations. In this module we trace the evolution and reinvention of socialist ideas as they spread from western Europe in the wake of the French Revolution to the rest of the world. This module is focused on ideas in the broadest sense, extending to Robert Owen’s reform program for industrializing England, Marx and Engels’ redefinition of socialism as the endpoint of class struggle, Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel on America of the future, Alexandra Kollontai’s rethinking of the Soviet family, Léopold Senghor’s vision of Africa revitalizing world civilization, and more besides. We will devote special attention to the challenge (and opportunity) that particular identities, above all the nation and ethnicity, have posed to socialism, an ostensibly universal approach to human affairs. The reasons for socialism’s apparent decline since the 1980s will also be considered.

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0676: 30 credits
HIST0682: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment method:

HIST0676: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0682: (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0682: (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Media, Culture and Society in the Soviet Union from Stalin to 1991

DR KRISTIN ROTH-EY

This course explores the history of the Soviet Union’s experiment in creating a socialist “culture for the masses” from Stalinism through to 1991. In lectures and discussions, we will analyze the relationship of cultural developments to key issues in the history of the late USSR, such as the nature of power in the Soviet system,(Stalinist and post-Stalinist), the question of national and supra-national, or Soviet, identity formations, issues of generational conflict, “lifestyle” politics, and the cold war, and the impact of technological and sociological modernization. Readings will draw from secondary sources, first-person narratives, and documents in translation. The course focuses in-depth on cinema as a key sphere for cultural production and consumption in the USSR.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0476: 30 credits
HIST00681: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0476: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0681: (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0681: (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Sin in the Middle Ages

DR EMILY CORRAN

Thought about sin was present in many aspects of medieval life and thought. A stereotype about the Middle Ages says that everyday life was pervaded by fear and guilt about sin. However, this is a false picture. Important changes in the conception of sin took place over the course of the Middle Ages, and there was considerable variety of attitudes to evil, the afterlife and transgression. This course will allow students to gain an overview of Christian culture over the course of the long Middle Ages. No prior knowledge about Christianity is needed for this course: we will study it as a sociological phenomenon, and full explanations of technical terms will be provided.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0804 - 30 credits
HIST0805 - 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0804: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0805 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0805 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Social change, new social movements, and politics in Britain after 1945

DR FLORENCE SUTCLIFFE-BRAITHWAITE

This course looks at the interaction of social change and politics in postwar Britain, integrating social and cultural history with political history. It will introduce you to changing thinking about class, race, and gender among political parties in Britain, looking at political thought, political ideologies and political propaganda. You will examine the changing social and cultural bases of politics, and why “new social movements” like the Women’s Liberation Movement and Gay Liberation exploded onto the scene from the late 1960s onwards. You will also examine how class voting has declined since the 1950s, try to understand why this has happened and look at its implications. You will read work from political scientists and sociologists alongside historians’ work, and you will analyse primary sources as well as secondary literature.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0081: 30 credits
HIST0544: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0081: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0544: (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0544: (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Crown Church and Estates in Central Europe 1500-1700

PROFESSOR MARTYN RADY

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 module 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.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0470: 30 credits
HIST0471: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0470: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0471 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0471 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

India and the Global Economy, 1500-Present

DR JAGJEET LALLY

If India’s share of world income was 27 per cent in 1700, why was it only 5 per cent in 1950? If colonial rule shackled the Indian economy and frustrated its development, how has India emerged as a global economic superpower today? In this course, we will examine the history of the Indian subcontinent through the early modern and modern eras, focussing on India’s changing role and position in the global economy. The starting point for the course is the establishment of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century. The Mughals transformed India’s domestic and external economy, as evident from India’s centrality in trade and economic connections with the Islamic empires of Eurasia and with states and markets of the Indian Ocean world, from East Africa to China. At this time, following the discovery of the sea route from Europe to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope, Europeans – first the Portuguese and, after 1600, the Dutch and the English – also established economic relations with India. Following the establishment of the East India Company as a territorial power on the subcontinent after c. 1750, and the increasing integration of South Asia into the economy of the British Empire, India’s role and place in the global economy was transformed, and Indian nationalists decried the deindustrialisation and drain of wealth that was reducing India and her people to poverty. After Independence, Indian planners sought to reduce poverty through industrialisation and a series of five-year plans that came at considerable cost and with mixed success, arguably necessitating the liberalisation of the economy from the 1980s that has once again altered India’s role and place in the global economy.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0075: 30 credits
HIST0681: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0075: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0681 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0681 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Native North America, c.1600-1850

DR JONATHAN CHANDLER

The indigenous peoples of North America have long and diverse histories stretching back at least 15,000 years. Since European explorers first united the world’s two hemispheres at the turn of the sixteenth century, native communities have faced numerous challenges and fallen victim to often unimaginable hardship. Native cultures showed amazing adaptability in the face of these challenges: embracing the opportunities of new trade networks, incorporating new religious ideas and economic strategies with older practices, and welcoming newcomers from Europe and Africa into their own communities. This course will use historical, archaeological, and anthropological methods to explore themes including ritual and belief, warfare and diplomacy, gender and sexuality, and power and violence. By exploring colonisation from indigenous perspectives we will analyse how native cultures and identities were created, subverted, and reinvented in North America.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0812: 30 credits
HIST0815: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0812: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0815 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0815 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Poland and Lithuania Transformed, 1569-1923

DR THOMAS LORMAN

This course charts the meanings of ‘Poland’ and ‘Polish’, and of ‘Lithuania’ and ‘Lithuanian’, over an extended period. It seeks to explain the rise, protracted decline and fall of one Polish-Lithuanian political community and the extended struggle to resurrect another. It also explores the social and cultural transformations of the people who were at various times considered to constitute the ‘nation’. It does so in the context of changing Jewish, and Ruthenian, Ukrainian and Belarusian identities, whose threads intertwined with, and were later painfully disentangled from, those of ‘Poland’ and ‘Lithuania’. 

The course begins with an introduction to the Polish-Lithuanian union as it developed from the late fourteenth century. It then surveys the diverse lands, peoples and faiths of the Commonwealth in the ‘golden’ and ‘silver’ ages – the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries. It will then examine the privileges, bonds and limits of citizenship provide a triple lens through which students will gain a sense of how and why the Commonwealth and its institutions functioned, before the catastrophic year 1648 inaugurated seven disastrous decades of continual warfare on its own soil. The course then analyses the impact of military, demographic and economic calamities on that political culture and the calls for reform that gathered strength from the 1730s and culminated with the Constitution of 3 May 1791 and the reasons for the final partition of the Commonwealth in 1795. 

In term 2, it will examine the implications for ‘Poland’ and ‘Lithuania’ of the efforts to resurrect the state under the Napoleonic aegis, and later by insurrection, as well as the efforts undertaken to protect and encourage the spread of Polish and Lithuanian culture. The final part of the course examines the ideologies and programmes of Polish, Lithuanian, Jewish and feminist political groupings on the eve of the First World War and the struggle to achieve their ambitions in the aftermath of the sudden collapse of all of the partitioning empires and the creation of Poland, Lithuania and the Soviet Union in 1921. Nevertheless, as this course will demonstrate, the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the struggle for its restoration in the long nineteenth century, serve as both a warning and an inspiration to Poles, Lithuanians and all Europeans as they grapple with the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.

NB: Students are not permitted to take this module if they have already taken the Thematic module: The Fall and Rise of the Polish Nation, 1648-1921

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0474: 30 credits
HIST0475: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0474: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0475 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0475 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Religious Reformation and Popular Piety, 1450-1650

PROFESSOR BEN KAPLAN

This module examines the sweeping 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 Reformations (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 ecclesiastic 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.  

The first half of the course has a largely narratival structure, tracing the events and movements conventionally associated with the Reformations of the 16th century.  After setting the context, it begins with reform efforts prior to Luther, and ends with the consolidation of rival `confessional’ churches by around the end of the century.  The second half of the course is organized thematically.  Each week a phenomenon – i.a. Ritual and Community, Sin and Confession, The Holy Household – is considered over the entire chronological scope, more or less, of the course.  In this way we will trace changes in the way religion was experienced and practiced by Europeans of all confessions between 1450 and 1650, comparing the new, early modern forms of Christianity both to one another and to the late medieval religion they supplanted.
 

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0051: 30 credits
HIST0670: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment method:

HIST0051: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0670: (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0670: (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essay (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Rome AD 300-1000. Portraits of a City, Reflections of a Changing World

DR ANTONIO SENNIS

This year-long course explores the changes that occurred in Rome between AD 300 and 1000, exploring a number of themes of key importance in the general history of late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

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.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0031: 30 credits
HIST0514: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0031: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0514 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0514 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

The Industrial Revolution in Britain

PROFESSOR JULIAN HOPPIT

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 explores 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 coursework, such as book reviews, may also often be set.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0039: 30 credits
HIST0664: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0039: 2 X 2,500-word essays (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0664 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0664 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

The Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia

DR BOJAN ALEKSOV

This module gives an introduction to the history and culture of Yugoslavia. Created in a relatively small area, characterised by great geographic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empire, Yugoslavia’s political elites had throughout its existence struggled for a viable and lasting model for a common South Slavic country as desired by the great majority of its inhabitants. Their failure resulted not only in the disintegration of Yugoslavia and its reconstitution into yet more ‘nation-states’ but was also followed by bloody inter-ethnic wars. The module concentrates on the political history but also looks at economic, cultural, religious, linguistic and other related issues which influenced the history of Yugoslavia. The aim of the module is to give the student a framework for understanding modern Yugoslav history and culture and the reasons behind its two creations and collapses during the short twentieth century that historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called ‘The Age of Extremes’. Students with an interest in complexities of national identity and nationalism will have a chance to deepen their knowledge studying a specific country where these issues played the major role behind all recent historic development. There are weekly lectures and classes.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0644: 30 credits
HIST0645: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0644: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0645 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0645 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

The Cultural Cold War in Europe, 1917-1989

DR IAIN STEWART

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.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0083: 30 credits
HIST0545: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0083: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0545 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0545 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Enlightenments and Revolutions

DR ALESSANDRO DE ARCANGELIS

Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of innovative scholarship on the Enlightenment, which invited historians to rethink the spatial and chronological coordinates of this complex intellectual movement. Traditionally regarded as a predominantly Franco-Prussian event, the Enlightenment is now conceived in an increasingly polycentric and pluralistic fashion. This course therefore seeks to introduce students to a more nuanced understanding of this cultural and philosophical movement, in line with the recent historiography. It does so in various ways: first, it relies on the resources of transnational history to illustrate the permeability and interconnectedness of the contexts in which the Enlightenment developed; second, it employs a variety of historiographical approaches (e.g. intellectual, political, cultural, economic and social history) to interrogate a broad range of ideas, authors, texts, as well as their circulation within the continent; third, it engages more substantially with voices and narratives commonly regarded as “peripheral”, such as the Scottish, Neapolitan and Spanish-speaking Enlightenments; fourth, it also considers the global dimension of the Enlightenment, focusing on its reception in the wider world and its ability to shape experiences of political change and Revolution across the Atlantic.  

Furthermore, just as it seeks to deconstruct the conventional map of the European Enlightenment, this course also attempts to rethink its chronological boundaries, outlining an increasingly splintered and multi-directional narrative that disrupts its teleological association with the French Revolution. It will do so by shining a light on experiences of Revolution taking place in the European and global “peripheries”, and by reviewing its links with the Napoleonic era. Overall, this course encourages students to embrace a critical approach to the canonical historiography on the Enlightenment and consequently develop a more accurate and engaging understanding of this movement, and of its role in European, as well as world history.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

HIST0674 - 30 credits
HIST0533 - 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0674: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0533 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0533 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

The Disunited States: Contested Visions of America, 1775-1860

DR JANE DINWOODIE

In 1782, following the American Revolution and the establishment of their independence from Great Britain, the United States Congress adopted a new motto for their new nation: the Latin E Pluribus Unum (literally, “out of many, one”). Lawmakers hoped the motto would reflect the ties that bound their new states – originally created individually as former British colonies – into one new nation. The idea of perfect union, however, was much more elusive than the motto implied. Though American policymakers claimed a United States under their new constitution in 1789, for almost a century the American continent would remain a deeply contested and disunited space.

This module will explore the ways that Americans and outsiders challenged the U.S. government’s claims to dominance over the continent, discovering an unconventional and unexpected history of the American continent from the founding of the United States to the Civil War. Throughout our course of study, we will range both chronologically and geographically across the area that is today the continental United States. Because ideas of place are central to this course, each week our readings centre on a particular geographical location which was a flashpoint for a particular controversy over or for an aspirational vision for the future of the continent. In seeking to understand the full extent and diversity of antebellum peoples’ visions of this continent, we will examine a diverse cast of characters, ranging from Comanche imperialists on the Great Plains and proslavery Southern imperialists in Nicaragua, to Mormon nation-builders in Utah and a same-sex couple in Vermont. As we range across the course, we will seek to explore these groups’ different visions of America on their own terms, as well as in terms of the challenges to American state formation and imperial control that they posed, and the ways that American officials sought to respond to them.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code:

HIST0088: 30 credits

HIST0123: 15 credits - One-term Affiliate students only

Assessment methods:

HIST0088: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)
HIST0123 (term 1): 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%) - Term 1 Affiliate students only
HIST0123 (term 2): 2 X 2,500-word essays (40/60%) - Term 2 Affiliate students only

Emergency History: A Natural History of Humanity for the Present

DR JOHN SABAPATHY

The twenty-first century is developing as a disorienting, even frightening, period of deep and visible fragmentation and disintegration: climate change and ecological degradation, global financial instability, normalized demagoguery, xenophobic political movements, buckling global institutional arrangements, rocketing inequality, violent global terrorist groups, failed states of various stripes, opaque confrontations between nuclear powers, poorly regulated global corporations of extraordinary reach, attacks on reason and knowledge itself. The distance from 2019 to 2001, let alone 1991, 1989, or 1945 appears bewildering and disturbing.

This course hopes to steady nerves by offering some very longue durée perspectives, stepping sharply back to look at a range of these phenomena. Few if any are themselves novel, notwithstanding their amplification by technology or globalization. Many have their roots in the fortunes or failings of the institutions which humans fabricate to regulate their interactions. The module therefore takes an uncommonly long view. It will go as far ‘back’ as primate politics, the workings of trust and distrust work in small-scale societies, pandemics, panics, and the creation, destruction, or survival of institutions of various sorts. We will accordingly raise very large questions and interrogate them by the close examination of selected historical evidence from primatology, prehistory, classical and medieval history and so forth to the extreme present (we may examine yesterday’s news). The course will obviously not be a comprehensive, chronological one: we will move around a lot. Students with allergies to anthropology or sociology should note we will use anthropology and sociology. An aim will be to develop an ‘amoral’ view of our natural history as a species. You will be able to apply knowledge of periods you have studied elsewhere and develop that further in essays if you wish.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code: HIST0399

HIST0399: 30 credits

Assessment methods:

HIST0399: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)

 

Successors to the Habsburgs: East-Central Europe, 1914-1945

DR REBECCA HAYNES

This module investigates the problems caused by the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the creation of new states in East-Central Europe (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia). These Habsburg ‘successor’ states were burdened with nationality problems as complex as those of the former Empire and were constantly under threat of territorial revision. In addition, these states lacked strong traditions of representative government and faced serious social and economic problems which were further aggravated by the onset of the Depression. They thus fell easy prey to authoritarian solutions and looked for support to the Great Powers who in turn sought to influence events within these countries.

The history of these states thus tends to follow a similar pattern: a brief experiment with democracy after the First World War followed by the imposition of authoritarian rule; competition between authoritarian rulers and fascist movements in the 1930s; competition with one another in foreign policy; German occupation; war and communist takeover. Weekly seminars will be structured around both individual ‘country histories’ and themes common to all the ‘successor’ states, together with a study of the interaction between these states and the Great Powers.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code: HIST0472

HIST0472: 30 credits

Assessment methods:

HIST0472: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)

War, Rebellion and Social Discontent

DR LILY CHANG

Beginning with an examination of China at the dawn of the twentieth century, this module explores the causes, motivations, and consequences brought on by the upheavals of war, rebellions, and revolutions, which fuelled widespread discontent from the people in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. Through an examination of internal and external forces that led to the collapse of the Chinese empire in 1911, this module considers the emergence of new and competing ideas about political governance, modernity, the rise of militarism, the formation of the Nationalist Government and the Chinese Communist Party, and the flowering of urban and popular culture. A key focus of this module is an examination of the lived experiences and consequences of China’s involvement in multiple wars during this period, including the First Sino-Japanese War, the Second World War, the Chinese Civil War, and the Communist Revolution.

Through a study of China’s engagement with each of these key moments, the module considers more specifically, themes such as nation-building, state-society relations, competing schools of thought, foreign relations, civil society, and the social and cultural impact that such events had on the Chinese population. Because China’s historical experiences are inseparable from a larger regional and global identity in the modern era, the module also examines the relationships and tensions that the country experienced with its neighbours during this period. Students will also be strongly encouraged to draw upon their existing historical knowledge to explore comparisons and parallels between China and other parts of the world.

Module type: Thematic

Level: 5

Module code: HIST0073

HIST0073: 30 credits

Assessment methods:

HIST0073: 2 X 2,500-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour examination (50%)