English, 2017 curriculum - Free topic 7: The Break-Up of Greater Britain + Britain after Empire

Course content

The Break-Up of Greater Britain

This course addresses the legacies of Britain’s imperial past through an examination of the interconnections between the unraveling of the British Empire and the so-called ‘Break-Up of Britain’. Over the past four decades, the integrity and future of the United Kingdom has been increasingly called into question, widely manifest in the politics of ‘devolution’ in the Welsh and Scottish assemblies and the current impasse over Brexit and Scottish independence aspirations. This course seeks to anchor these dilemmas in the wider, global context of the end of the British empire – specifically the fate of ‘Greater Britain’ – arguably the world’s first global civic idea. The notion that Britishness transcended geography, uniting a worldwide community of British subjects, was one of the major casualties of the end of empire. Studying the demise of British civic culture throughout the many self-styled ‘British’ communities around the world over the past sixty years offers a new perspective on developments in the UK in recent decades. Among the case studies to be considered are the collapse of fiercely loyal British communities in South Africa in the face of Afrikaner nationalism in the 1950s and 60s; the struggle over British symbols and identity in Canada in the post-WWII era amid fears of absorption into the United States; the crisis of Britishness in Australia and New Zealand under the pressure of European integration and global decolonization; and the changing attitudes among communities in Rhodesia, Kenya and Hong Kong in the wake of empire.

 

Britain after Empire

This course turns the mirror of decolonisation – a term normally used to understand the emergence of new independent nation states across Asia and Africa in the mid-twentieth century – back on to Britain itself. It explores the extent to which Britain went through a process of “decolonisation” towards a downsized conception of the nation for a post-imperial world, prompting an overhaul of some of the major assumptions and ideas that had shaped British culture and society for more than a century.   The question of how (and how much) Britain itself was affected by the loss of its colonial Empire is one which has drawn much scholarly interest, and one whose answer continues to divide historians. The course examines the historiographical debate on the issue, dissecting arguments put forward, on the one hand, by those who assert that there was precious little reaction to Empire's end in Britain, and, on the other hand, those arguing that the influence of this process upon Britain was profound. A number of historical events and their metropolitan responses are considered, including the decolonisation of India, the “Wind of Change” in colonial Africa, the debates about restricting Commonwealth immigrants, the outbreak of the Northern Ireland Troubles, the Falklands War, the political emergence of Scottish and Welsh independence and the threat posed by Brexit to the integrity and unity of the United Kingdom. These themes are linked by the key methodological question: how do we operationalise imperial decline as a causal factor driving domestic social and cultural responses, and what is the role of memory and nostalgia in reconstituting the Empire in contemporary Britain?  

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

The Break-Up of Greater Britain

Reading:

Course readings will be selected from a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including extracts from the following texts:

  • Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain (Princeton, 2007).
  •  Robert Bickers (ed.), Settlers and Expatriates: Britons over the Seas (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • Carl Bridge and Kent Fedorowich (eds.), The British World: Diaspora, Culture, Identity (London, 2003).
  • James Curran and Stuart Ward, The Unknown Nation: Australia After Empire (Melbourne, 2010).
  • James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939 (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Phillip Buckner (ed.) Canada and the End of Empire (Vancouver, 2005).
  • Phillip Buckner and Doug Francis, Rediscovering the British World (Calgary, 2005).
  • Kate Darian-Smith (et. al), Britishness Abroad, (Melbourne, 2007).
  • Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw, The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa Since the Boer War (Cambridge, 2007).
  • Jose E. Igartua, The Other Quiet Revolution: National Identities in English Canada, 1945-71 (Vancouver, 2007).
  • J. G. A. Pocock, The Discovery of Islands: Essays in British History (Cambridge, 2005).
  • Bill Schwarz, The White Man’s World (Oxford, 2010).

 

Britain after Empire

Reading:

Course readings will be selected from a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including extracts from the following texts:

  • John Darwin, The Empire Project. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Catherine Hall and Sonya O. Rose, eds. At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984Paul, Kathleen. Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-war Era. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.
  • Kennetta Hammond Perry, London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Camilla Schofield, Enoch Powell and the Making of Postcolonial Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Andrew S. Thompson, ed. Britain’s Experience of Empire in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Stuart Ward, ed. British Culture and the End of Empire. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.
  • Wendy Webster, Englishness and Empire 1939-1965. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

The Break-Up of Greater Britain
Content/Format
• One weekly lecture (one hour)
• One weekly student workshop (three hours)
Objectives:
At the end of this course students should have:
• A clear grasp of the primary agencies and processes that attended the decline of the British Empire
• An undertanding of the reaction of settler colonial societies to this process, particularly in an Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and African context
• An awareness of the fundamental continuties and divergences between comparative settler-colonial contexts
• An understanding of the global connotations of the concept of ‘Britishness’ and its fate since the onset of imperial decline
• A sense of the present day legacies of Empire in the settler colonial world
• Honed skills in written analysis at an advanced level

Britain after Empire
Content/Format
• One weekly lecture (one hour)
• One weekly student workshop (three hours).

Objectives:
At the end of this course students should have:
• An extensive knowledge of the historiographical debate on the influence of imperial decline on British metropolitan culture and politics.
• An understanding of metropolitan connotations of the concept of ‘Britishness’ and its relationality to ‘off-shore’, non-metropolitan variants.
• A sense of the present day legacies of Empire in Britain.
• An understanding of the methodological approaches to transnational history in the English-speaking world
• Developed the fundamentals of research skills: problem formulation, resource gathering, and source criticism

The Break-Up of Greater Britain will be taught in weeks 6-12, four hours/week and Britain after Empire will be taught in weeks 14-20, four hours/week.

ECTS
15 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio for both courses uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 12th 2018
The Break-Up of Greater Britain
Portfolio assessment:
Essay assignment, 11-15 pages (1/2 weighting):
Deadline: End of Week 12

Britain after Empire
Portfolio assessment:
Essay assignment, 11-15 pages (1/2 weighting).
Criteria for exam assessment

http:/​​/​​hum.ku.dk/​​uddannelser/​​aktuelle_studieordninger/​​engelsk/​

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5