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BBNAN12500 British History
Karáth Tamás PhD
History of Britain (BBNAN12500)
Lecturer: Karáth Tamás PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org)
British history – as a lecture course for non-history majors – is conceived to provide students with a helpful cultural background for their literary and civilization studies. The major focus of the course is a cultural history of the nations of the British Isles, which, however, will not lack socio-political aspects. The lecture will attempt to give an overview of the history of the British Isles from the beginning to the present day (in case of the Republic of Ireland only up to 1922) by highlighting some phenomena and problems which constitute the most essential turning points in political, social and cultural history of Britain.
Readings: see below under exam information
Sep 12: Introduction: presentation of the course and of the requirements. The difficulties of facing history in present-day Britain, illustrated by contemporary witnesses
Basic concepts of time and space in British history
Sep 19: The Anglo-Saxon world in historical and literary sources: The testimony of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica
Sep 26: The “stories” of the Norman Conquest: Interpretations of the Conquest by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Bayeux Tapestry. Turning point and continuity after 1066
Oct 3: The Middle Ages: The birth of the English nation? Historical contexts of a nascent English identity. The first Anglo-Celtic encounters
Oct 10: The Tudor Century: The English Reformations
Oct 17: “Paradise Lost and Regained”: the Stuart century disrupted by the republican intermezzo, 1640-1660; Oliver Cromwell; the Glorious Revolution and the constitutional settlement
Oct 24: From the Union with Scotland to the Union with Ireland (1707-1801): the Georgian era, beginnings of the two-party system, roots of the English Conservatism and Liberalism. Early political reform movements at the beginning of the 19th century
Oct 31: Autumn break
Nov 7: Victorian Britain I: effects of the industrialization and urbanization on British society.
Nov 14: Victorian Britain II: the British Empire, the high noon of colonization
Nov 21: National revivalist movements in the Celtic fringe of the 19th century. The way to the devolution through the 20th century: The Northern Irish question; Welsh and Scottish nationalism and separatism
Nov 28: Post-Colonial Britain: The decline of an Empire: The loss of the colonies; 20th-century and present-day conflicts originating from the decolonization process
Dec 5: Post-WWII Britain (2): British society from the late 1940s to the 1990s
Dec 12: Britain at the new millennium: The reinvention of Britishness; Devolution
I wish you all the best for the semester and I hope to see you at the lectures.
The lecture will be concluded by a written exam for which you will have to register in Neptun. The exam itself will consist of three parts: (1) Fifteen fact questions, (2) two essay questions related to one piece of secondary literature of your choice from the list below, and (3) two essay questions related to a historical source text of your choice from the list below. The final mark will be the average of all the three graded constituents. If you achieve 5 points or less in the fact questions or fail any two parts of the exam, you automatically fail the exam.
1. Fact questions
Below, there is a list of names and concepts any of which may occur in the written test. You are supposed to check all of them in David MacDowall’s An Illustrated History of Britain (Longman, 1989). In the written test, you do not have to expect open-ended questions, but gap-filling, as e.g.:
- The last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, .............................. died heirless, and the throne of England went to the Stuarts.
- The most influential Conservative politician of the second half of the 19th century was …………………………, several times alternating in power with Gladstone.
I. Romano-Celtic Britain and Anglo-Saxon England
II. High and Late Middle Ages
III. Tudor England
IV. The Century of the Stuarts
V. 18th Century Britain
VI. Victorian Britain
VII. 20th-Century Britain
Assessment of the fact questions:
0-5 points – failure of the exam
6-7 points – 1
8-9 points – 2
10-11 points – 3
12-13 points – 4
14-15 points - 5
2. Two essay questions related to a piece of secondary literature
Choose one of the following pieces of secondary literature. You can expect two questions related to the work: one of them will inquire about an important fact concerning the period. E.g., if you choose John Guy’s The Tudors from the list below, the first question may simply ask you to explain the role of Thomas More in Henry VIII’s government. The second question will be more complex, and ask you to explain a problematic issue in the period. E.g., again, if you choose John Guy’s The Tudors, the second question may ask you to illustrate what made Elizabeth I a Renaissance ruler. The list is arranged in a chronological order as to its material, and not in alphabetical order of the authors:
Blair, John, The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000
Gillingham, John and Ralph A. Griffiths, Medieval Britain: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000
Guy, John, The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Morrill, John, Stuart Britain: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000
Langford, Paul, Eighteenth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000
Harvie, Christopher and H. C. G. Matthew, Nineteenth-Century Britain. Oxford University Press, 2000
Morgan, Kenneth O., Twentieth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3. Two essay questions related to a source from the list below
Choose one of the following source texts. The source cannot come from the same period as that analyzed by the piece of secondary literature of your choice. Prepare the text according to the given aspects:
You can expect two questions related to your source: one of a more factual type. E.g., if you choose Bede, the question may ask you to clarify (on the basis of the assigned passages) what sources Bede might have known when writing his Historia Ecclesiastica. The second question will be more analytical, and more closely related to the text. E.g., in the case of Bede, you may be asked to point out the overall purpose of his work in the passage on the conversion of the Northumbrians.
The sources are listed chronologically with the indication of the age they were written in. Even if a Hungarian translation is given as an option, the discussion of the text in the essays has to be in English.
i. anglo-saxon england
ii. the middle ages
iii. tudor england
iv. the stuart century
v. 18th-century britain
vi. victorian britain
vii. 20th century
Good luck for the exam.
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