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Home and Away: Global Aspects of British History, c.1720-1870

Tutor: Joanna de Groot

Module type: Period Topic

Module code: HIS00010C

This module takes a familiar story about the history of the United Kingdom - the social and political changes associated with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - and puts them in a less often discussed world setting. It considers how far very local and well-known aspects of that story (cotton mills, reform politics, cultural change, new kinds of urban life and 'class' divisions) were in fact the product of global relationships, power and resources which linked people in the UK with those in a wider world.

Taking three perspectives on the history of the period (cultural, political, material) it will look at both how people in/from the UK were affected by their contacts with people outside Europe, and how those people were affected by their contact with UK traders, soldiers,slave owners, missionaries, or rulers. We shall focus on two particular important sets of relationships - those between the UK and India (with their wider implications) and those between the UK and black slavery (with African implications).

Seminar topics may include:

  • Introduction - putting UK history in a global setting: why? how?
  • Material things I - trade, plantations and settlement in India and the Caribbean
  • Material things II - global commerce, wealth and economic change in the UK
  • Politics and power I - war, colonies, and commercial rivalries on sea and land
  • Politics and power II - global/imperial issues in UK politics: power and reform
  • Art, writing , knowledge I - how did British people represent and understand 'others'?
  • Art, writing, knowledge II - how did views of 'others' shape British views of themselves?
  • Review - Britain in a global setting


To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

  • Marshall, Peter and Alaine Low (eds.). The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II, The Eighteenth Century (chapters 3-5, 18-24). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Walvin, James. Black Ivory: a history of British slavery. London: HarperCollins, 1992.