Living in England, 1600-1800

Tutor: Natasha Glaisyer

Module Type: Explorations

Module Code: HIS00062I

This module explores the experience of living in England during two centuries of dramatic change. What communities did individuals feel they belonged to? What was it like to live in a village? Why did so many people move to towns? What challenges did a migrant to London face? How did news travel? How did people make their livings? What did people eat? When did they sleep? At what age did people marry? Who could read and what did they read? What did people buy? How did people in England connect to the rest of Britain and the world?

In this module we will not only be considering some of the contours of the major social, economic and cultural trends across the period, we will also be studying the daily lives of particular individuals. We will be concerned with women and men, the rich and the poor and those in between, and the urban and the rural. We will discuss cutting-edge scholarship and study in some detail primary materials such as songs, diaries, newspapers, parish records, and criminal records. Through various different approaches - for example, particular case studies and the crossing of conventional periodisations - we will challenge the various ways that historians ‘cut up’ the past, and consider the implications this has for our understanding of the history of living in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Seminars are likely to cover the following areas:

  1. The lie of the land: birth, marriage and death
  2. The town mouse and the country mouse: urbanisation and agrarian
  3. The ties that bind: credit and the social order
  4. Industrialisation before the ‘industrial revolution’
  5. Peddling your wares: buying and selling
  6. The rhythms of daily life: sleeping, eating and drinking
  7. Three score years and ten: childhood, youth and old age
  8. Spreading the news: literacy, orality and print
  9. London: a special case? 

Group project work will consist of analysis of primary sources. Students will chose between a number of very broadly defined projects and then work with the other students in their group (in consultation with the tutor) to narrow the scope of their projects.

For more information, please visit the module catalogue.