Britain and Britishness: The Development of National Identity

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History 231

Britain and Britishness: The Development of National Identity
Spring 2013

Professor David Smith Wyatt 153

ext. 3172
Office hours: Monday 1.00-2:00 and Friday 3.00-4:00
The course asks what does it mean to be British? This query is examined by the definition and redefinition of British national identity between 1860 and 2000. The lectures and readings are designed to introduce British political, social, and cultural history between the mid Victorian period and the end of the 20th century. The course devotes special attention to the emergence of a specifically modern idea of the nation, a process that included defining "who belonged" to the British nation-state, who did not, and why. Inevitably, therefore, this course concentrates on the theory and practice of exclusion--demonstrating how, for example, the poor, the female, and the non-white were acceptable as Imperial subjects but not as voting citizens. The course also examines how British imperialism and the monarchy helped to both strengthen and weaken the loyalty to the United Kingdom. Particular attention will be given to place of Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the construction of British identity in the past 150 years.

Required Books

Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837.

Paul Ward, Britishness Since 1870.

Andrea Levy, Small Island

BBC History web site and Pathe Newsreels :

Course Requirements

Participation and small assignments: 25%: Expectations that you come to class having read and are willing to discuss the assigned reading. Three unexcused absences will result in you being dropped from the course. Each class period I will assign students to lead discussion by taking a specific item from the reading and sometimes will ask you to use the internet in order to explore the topic. These internet findings should be placed in a folder for evaluation at the end of the semester. Students will also be asked to submit six articles published in the press during the course of the semester, and will be asked to demonstrate how an understanding of their content has been enhanced by the reading in the course on the development of Britishness.

Two short papers--the first about four pages in length, the second six pages. The first paper will ask how does the work of George Orwell help us understand the concept of Britishness? (10%) And the second will focus on the usefulness of A Levy’s novel and the film of Small Island in our understanding of the redefinition of Britishness after 1945. (25%) Full prompts and instructions will be posted on Moodle. I encourage you to visit me in office hours to discuss your ideas. Late papers will be penalized at the rate of ½ a letter grade per day and will not be accepted more than five days following the due date. Papers should be typed, double spaced and proof read. Only hard copies of papers will be accepted and papers need to include page number and correct citation form. Please review the University of Puget Sound’s policies on academic honesty and plagiarism in the Academic Handbook. Serious penalties will be enforced for any plagiarism.

Movie appreciation--view any two movies, excluding "Small Island," listed in the syllabus and show how your appreciation of these films has been increased by your participation in the class.


Mid-term examination 15%

Final examination 20%
Course Policies:
Attendance: Regular attendance is essential to your success in the course. The professors reserve the right to withdraw any student from the class for excessive unexcused absences. The last day to withdraw from the course with an automatic ‘W’ is March 4th; students withdrawn after this date will normally receive a 'WF.'

Academic Honesty: All students are expected to abide by the guidelines concerning academic honesty outlined in the Logger (at Violations of honesty in research (i.e., inventing or falsifying sources or data) or writing (i.e., borrowing the arguments or words of others without attribution), or the defacing or destruction of library materials will result in a grade of ‘0’ for the assignment in question and, at the instructor’s discretion, dismissal from the course.

In Case of Emergency: Please review university emergency preparedness and response procedures posted at Familiarize yourself with hall exit doors and the designated gathering area for your class and laboratory buildings. If building evacuation becomes necessary (e.g., earthquake), meet your instructor at the designated gathering area so she/he can account for your presence. Then wait for further instructions. Do not return to the building or classroom until advised by a university emergency response representative. If confronted by an act of violence, be prepared to make quick decisions to protect your safety. Flee the area if you can safely do so. If this is not possible, shelter in place by securing classroom or lab doors and windows, closing blinds, and turning off room lights. Stay low, away from doors and windows, and as close to the interior hallway walls as possible. Wait for further instructions.


Colley, Preface, Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2.

Ward, Introduction--Being British

Morgan, Britishness (Moodle)

BBC Timeline of British history.

Know the British

(Moodle external links-look other Know the British clips on Pathe)


Colley, Chapter 5.

Cannadine, Monarchy, British Empire (Moodle)

Matthew, Politics and Public Life, 120 (Moodle)

Ward, Chapter 1.

Black: 142-44, 155.

/ 2

Royal wedding;

George sixth (Moodle external links)

British empire (Moodle external links)

Coronations ( Moodle external links)

Movie: "Passage to India"

Colley, Chapter 6.

Black, 112-122, 145-53 (Moodle)

Rose, Sex, Citizenship and the Nation, (Moodle)

White Feather (Moodle), Wollacott, Khaki Fever, (Moodle), Ward, Women Say No (Moodle)

Ward, Chapter 2

BBC Website about Women in WW1 (Moodle)

Jane Howarth, “Gender, domesticity and sexual politics” (Moodle) ml

Movie: "Hope and Glory"


Ward, Chapter 3

Black , 33-49, 123-35, 201-9, 223-9 (Moodle)

Simon Featherstone, Chapter 5 The North in Englishness: Twentieth Century Popluar Culture and the Forming of English Identity. (Moodle)

Selections from George Orwell Road to Wigan Pier

Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, (Moodle)

Sites for Orwell.

Bolton images

Movie: "The Full Monty"

March 8, 11 Spare Time

Ward, Chapter 4,

Sian Nicholas, Being British: creeds and cultures (Moodle)

Black: 214-6 (Moodle)

Martin Jones, “A Prince a King..Rugby” (Moodle), Celtic v Rangers (Moodle)

Orwell, Shopkeepers War (Moodle), Eley, Finding the Peoples War (Moodle),

Matthew, 88 (Moodle)

Orwell, England Your England, The English Revolution (both on Moodle)

Movie: "This Sporting Life"

Mid- term exam March 15.

March 25, 29, April 2, 5, 8 OUTER BRITAIN
Colley, Chapter 3.

Black: 108-9, 223-29.

Ward Chapter 7

Heyck, Reconciling the Celt (Moodle), Revival on the Celtic Fringe (Moodle)

Colin Matthew, “Introduction: the United Kingdom and the Victorian Century” 14-22

Matthew, Politics and Public Life, 104 (Moodle)

Ruger, Nation, Empire and the Navy (Moodle)

Ellis, The Investiture of the Prince of Wales (Moodle)



England v Scotland

(Moodle links)

Movie: "The Hand that shakes the Barley"


Black: 185, 212-3.

Ward, Chapter 6

Calder, Britain’s Good War (Moodle)

Speech by Gordon Brown (2 parts on Moodle)

Movie: Small Island

Andrea Levy, Small Island

Rose, Sex and citizenship (Moodle)

Rivers of blood

C15B3&index=11&playnext=4 (Moodle external links)

VE day

April 26, 29, May 3 Politicans, Parties and National Identity

Colley, Chapters 4, 8.

Ward, Chapter 5,

Black: 105-112, 139-45, 217-9.

Matthew, 81-103 (Moodle

Matthew, Politics and Public life, 132 (Moodle)


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