– Twentieth Century Britain –

Instructor: Professor Y.A. Bennett

In the twentieth century Britain was involved in two world wars. This half credit course is a survey of the experience of these wars and their consequences for British society.

The course pays close attention to historiographical change, to the emergence of new evidence and to the reconsideration of older approaches, interpretations and arguments. An equally strong emphasis is placed upon the development of research, writing and analytical skills. The course is designed to help students to develop an ability to think clearly and critically, to ask significant questions, to read and interpret historical materials and to express ideas in a logical, concise manner. To this end, several of the two weekly 1.5 hours of lecture periods will be devoted to discussion and research workshops. Course work will probably be comprised of a document analysis focusing on war letters or the analysis of a documentary film (15%); a bibliographical assignment (15%); a research essay based on either one of the Library’s collections of British Foreign Office document collections, newspaper sources, Mass Observation Archives or other collection of primary materials (40%) and lastly a final examination (30%).  Please note that this is a second year level course and second year level standards will apply. First year students should only enrol in the course if they are confident that they have the ability and background to manage the demands of a 2000 level class.

At the end of the academic year it is hoped that students will be able to:

  • identify and discuss some of the key historical debates in twentieth century British war & society studies
  • sift and analyse primary source materials
  • dissect the arguments of others and assemble their own
  • improve their writing skills
  • be able to call themselves “research hounds”, with keen bibliographic skills, confidently able to navigate the Library and its resources.


As much as possible primary source materials found in digital archives like those which preserve The Times newspaper, the (Manchester) Guardian, the Observer, the Illustrated London News, the House of Commons Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers and Mass Observation Online, are used in together with scholarly articles and e –books, freely available through the Library, and a variety of other primary sources (e.g., letters, memoirs, diaries, photographs, novels, cartoons, newsreels and motion pictures) and secondary source materials freely available on the web. Two historians whose work we will discuss are Dan Todman and Angus Calder.

E-mail: aleksandra_bennett@carleton.ca

This course precludes additional credit for HIST2801 which is no longer offered