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The British Story 1500-1780

First Year Module

Module Leader: Dr Louise Carter

The British story between 1500 and 1780 was one of dramatic change in almost every arena national identity, politics, economics, global reach and influence, population size and structure, society and culture. During this period Britons became predominantly Protestant, pioneered constitutional monarchy, established an Atlantic empire, became global leaders in trade, innovation and industrialisation, saw rising living standards, became increasingly urban and saw cultural and intellectual creativity flourish.

Yet Britons also had to contend with foreign and domestic warfare, religious and political upheaval, poverty and disease, crime and popular unrest, the pressures of a booming population and uncertain harvests, mass migrations, new laws and shifting ideas and mores. This module will focus on exploring and evaluating the social and cultural impacts of such forces on the lives and mentalities of early modern Britons.  It will address topics such as politics and national identity; population growth; rank and social structure; religion and the Reformation; family and life cycle; crime and punishment; order and disorder; wealth and poverty; trade and consumerism; empire and emigration; urbanisation and industrialisation; the Enlightenment and scientific revolution; print culture and the birth of modernity.

It will outline the key themes and events shaping this period and encourage students to explore and evaluate the causes and consequences of both continuity and change.Students will engage with historiographical debate and a wide range of visual and textual primary sources. The module will encourage studentsto develop an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of past mentalities, events and structures.  The module will act as a foundation for later study, providing a framework of knowledge and skills to inform, contextualise and support a range of subsequent modules.


Learning and Teaching Strategies:

This module will be delivered through weekly lectures and seminars plus tutorial support. Where appropriate supporting resources will also be made available online. Seminar sessions will be designed to encourage student participation and will support students in strengthening their skills of presentation, discussion, argument and debate, and in evaluating, interpreting and using secondary and primary sources.


Recommended introductory reading:

J.A.Sharpe, Early Modern England: A Social History 1550-1760, 2nd edition, (London, 1997)

K. Wrightson, English Society 1580-1680, 2nd. edn., (Abingdon, 2003)

J.Black, Eighteenth-Century Britain 1688-1783, 2nd edition (Basingstoke, 2008)


Further Reading:

N.B. A full reading list is included in a module handbook which will be provided in the first week of teaching.

H.Berry and E. Foyster, (eds.), The Family in Early Modern England, (Cambridge, 2007)

B.G.Blackwood, Tudor and Stuart Suffolk, (Lancaster, 2001)

P.Borsay, A History of Leisure: The British Experience since 1500, (Basingstoke, 2006)

C.Carlton, This Seat of Mars: War and the British Isles 1485-1746, (Yale, 2011)

B.Capp, Englands Culture Wars: Puritan Reformation and its Enemies in the Interregnum 1649-1660, (Oxford, 2012)

B.Coward, Social Change and Continuity: England 1550-1750, 2nd edition, (Harlow, 1997)

E.Cockayne, Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1600-1770, (Yale, 2007)

L.Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837, (London, 2000)

S.Doran and N.Jones, (eds.), The Elizabethan World, (London, 2010)

S.Hindle, On the Parish? The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England c1550-1750, (Oxford, 2004)

N.Jones, The English Reformation: Religion and Cultural Adaptation, (Oxford, 2001)

P.Mathias, The First Industrial Nation: The Economic History of Britain 1700-1914, (London, 2001)

J.Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850, (Yale, 2009)

J.Morrill, Stuart Britain: A Short Introduction, (Oxford, 2000)

M.Ogborn, Global Lives: Britain and the World 1550-1800, (Cambridge, 2008)

R.Porter, Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World, (London, 2001)

K.Sharpe, Image Wars: Kings and Commonwealths in England 1603-1660, (Yale, 2010)

R.Shoemaker, The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth Century England, (London, 2007)

K.Thomas, The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England, (Oxford, 2009)

R.Thompson, Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England 1629-1640, (Massachusetts, 2009)

D.Underdown, Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Village in the Seventeenth Century, 2nd edn.,(London, 2003)

D.Wahrman, The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth Century England, (Yale, 2007)

P.Withington, Society in Early Modern England, (Cambridge, 2010)

K.Wrightson, Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain, 2nd edn. (London, 2002)

A.Wood, Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England, (Basingstoke, 2001)