HIST 231

Britain and Britishness: the Development of National Identity

The course asks, "What does it mean to be British?" This query is examined by the definition and redefinition of British national identity between 1860 and 2000. The lectures and readings are designed to introduce British political, social, and cultural history between the mid Victorian period and the end of the 20th century. The course devotes special attention to the emergence of a specifically modern idea of the nation, a process that included defining "who belonged" to the British nation-state, who did not, and why. Inevitably, therefore, this course concentrates on the theory and practice of exclusion--demonstrating how, for example, the poor, the female, and the non-white were acceptable as Imperial subjects but not as voting citizens. The course also examines how British imperialism and the monarchy helped to both strengthen and weaken the loyalty to the United Kingdom. Particular attention will be given to the place of Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the construction of British identity in the past 150 years.