In 1914 the British empire contained a population of over 400 million people and was territorially the largest empire in world history. While the British spread their ideas about government, language, religion, and culture to their colonies, Britain itself was also profoundly influenced by the colonies it ruled. This course will explore aspects of the impact of the Empire on British politics, economics, society, and popular culture during the 19th century. Among the topics to be covered are the anti-slavery movement, imperialism and new imperialism, jingoism and popular culture, economic responses, and the influence of imperialism on culture and the arts. The myriad resources of London will be used to provide specific examples of how important the Empire was in shaping British identity and institutions during the 19th century.
The course combines lectures and classroom discussion with historical walks and field trips, in order to establish a connection with Britain’s imperial history that surveys its physical and cultural traces in contemporary Britain. Required readings have been set for each week and students are expected to come to class or on trips ready to discuss the readings. As this is a writing intensive course, learning will be assessed through written assignments, and there will be plenty of opportunities to work on and develop your writing, but class participation will be a factor in assessment too.
Below is the course syllabus, lecture slides, handouts, and guides to the walks and gallery/museum classes I ran.