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Level 7

7AAH3020 Patriotism and National Identities in Britain, 1870-1914

Credit value: 20
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Dr Alexander Hutton
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000 word essay 

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module explores patriotism and national identities in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. What did contemporaries mean by patriotism? To what extent was the language of patriotism a contested one? A particular concern of this module is the relationship between patriotism, national identity and imperialism. Were British nationalisms typically synonymous or compatible with imperialism, or did patriotic loyalties alien to the imperial spirit often intrude?
The module takes a thematic approach, covering cultural, social and political history. Topics include: the politics and culture of rural ‘Englishness’; the constitution and the English past; Edwardian militarism; Labour, Conservative and Liberal patriotism; the Monarchy; gender and nationhood; Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalisms; Race; God and nation; British national identities and world war. While one focus of this module is political, it is more concerned with the intellectual content of political discourse than the details of partisan politicking. In addition, it pays just as much attention to the role of patriotic and nationalistic discourse in British culture. British patriotism and national identities cannot fully be understood without consideration of their wider cultural and political contexts. 
The module is suitable for students interested in 19th and 20th-century British history more generally; please note that no prior knowledge of modern British history is required.

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory
  • Cunningham, Hugh, The challenge of democracy: Britain 1832-1918 (2001) [Basic but clear. A useful introductory text for those unfamiliar with British political history; includes a chapter on national identities]
  • Searle, G.R., A New England?: Peace and War 1886-1918 (2004) [Excellent detailed compendium of information; addresses theme of national identity]
  • Colls, R., and Dodd, P., Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 (1986) [A seminal series of essays]
  • Kumar, K., The Making of English National Identity (2003) [A good account of the nature of modern English national identity, from a more theoretical – but accessible – perspective]
  • Mandler, P., ‘What is “national identity”? Definitions and applications in modern British historiography’, Modern Intellectual History (2006) [ informative historiographical survey]
  • Samuel, R., ed., Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity (3 vols., 1989) [useful if uneven collection of essays]
  • Ward, P., Britishness since 1870 (2004) [a wide ranging and accessible survey]
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