- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Venus Bivar
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
- See module specification for other years: 2020-21
Capitalism is a slippery term. For some it is short-hand for all that is wrong with the world. For others it is a synonym for freedom. In this module we study the history of capitalism, exploring different theories about when, where, and how it first emerged, and then developed in the latter half of the twentieth century into the dominant mode of economic and social organisation. We will read both classics in the field (Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg) and contemporary works (Destin Jenkins, Manu Goswami, Timothy Mitchell). As we proceed through the reading list students will begin to formulate their own definition of capitalism and will learn how to defend their position using textual evidence.
Alongside our inquiry into the nature of capitalism, we will also explore the historically simultaneous emergence of the economy. Most of us take for granted that the economy is a real object, rather than an invention of our imaginations. In this module, we will examine how the economy was first theorised in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and how, over time, economics became one of the most powerful forces of the modern world.
|A||Autumn Term 2021-22|
The module aims to:
After completing this module students should have:
Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
1. The birth of capitalism
2. Adam Smith and the rise of commercial society
3. Money and myth
4. The Great Divergence
5. Karl Marx and class struggle
6. Capitalism and Empire
7. Quantitative thinking
8. Self-Devouring Growth
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
Students will complete a 2,000-word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6 or 7 of the autumn term, for which they will receive an individual tutorial. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 2 of the spring term.
For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
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Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:
Adam Smith. An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. 1776.
Julie Livingston. Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa. Duke University Press, 2019.
Destin Jenkins and Justin Leroy, eds. Histories of Racial Capitalism. Columbia University Press, 2021.