Instructor: David Dean

By 1714 Britain was one of the world’s super-powers. English language and culture was shared by, or imposed upon, millions of people around the world and its highly centralized fiscal-military state ensured that Britain was one of the dominant nations of Europe. Yet, only two-hundred years earlier, England, Scotland and Ireland were separate kingdoms, relatively poor and powerless countries on the margins of Europe. This course explores this rapid transformation. We begin with the late-medieval period, where the consequences of the Black Death, the invention of printing, the growth of heresy and the struggles known as the Wars of the Roses lay many of the foundations for the rise of the Tudors, the establishment of a court-centred political culture and the gradual imposition of English authority in the borders, Wales and Ireland.  Revolutions both in government and religion and the emergence of a capitalist economy encouraged social, economic and cultural divisions that were accentuated after the union of England and Scotland under the Stewarts, tensions that culminated in the greatest upheaval in British history, the Civil Wars and Interregnum of the 1640s and 1650s. The restoration of the Stewart monarchy in 1660 did not mean a return to the past and in the later 17th and early 18th centuries the British people experienced cultural, economic and religious changes that continued to destabilize politics and society.

This course will combine a weekly two-hour lecture with a weekly one hour tutorial. Lectures will combine the traditional lecture format with in-class exercises and engagements using the full resources of an electronic classroom and clickers. The tutorial will enable you to discuss a range of primary sources focusing on a particular historical problem in a seminar-type atmosphere. Since we will be exploring the period through the voices of those who experienced it, we will also be reading some fictional and philosophical literature; in other words this course will work well alongside other second year survey type courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences. You will leave the course not only with an excellent understanding of the period through a wide range of sources, but having engaged with the historiography of the period (conflicting interpretations and competing methodologies) which will develop your critical thinking and evaluation skills. Course assessment will consist of short assignments submitted through WebCT, a mid-term examination, and an essay. There will be no final examination in this course.

The course texts will be Robert Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England 1485-1714. A Narrative History (2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4051-6275-3) and Newton Key and Robert Bucholz, Sources and Debates in English History 1485-1714 (2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4051-6276-0). You are also required to purchase a Turning Point Clicker from either the University bookstore or Haven Books since clickers will be used extensively in this course.