You will be able to select from an array of optional modules covering an extremely wide chronological and geographical range.
You must pass year two which is weighted one third of your final degree classification.
French Cinema: The New Wave
The module is designed to introduce you to a particular period of French cinema by offering a detailed study of the New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s, focusing in particular on the films of Godard, Truffaut, Resnais and Chabrol.
As the module will show, New Wave film-makers often employed a variety of new and challenging formal techniques in order to make films that reflected an emergent, modern, iconoclastic sensibility in post-war France. For these reasons, the module combines a contextual approach with introductory teaching in film analysis.
Nineteenth Century French Narrative
This module provides an introduction to short narrative in the nineteenth century. It invites students to consider how texts combine literary craftsmanship with an effort to represent, understand and engage with the political, cultural and physical world beyond the page. The module takes in a range of different short narrative genres and themes:
- The crowd-written character sketches Les Francais peints par eux-memes (1840-1842)
- Nostalgic and impressionistics stories from Emile Zola's Contes à Ninon (1864)
- Lyrical, colonialist depictions of the Orient by Maupassant (1880s)
- Fin-de-siécle decadent writing by Rachilde (1900)
Through these texts, you will also be introduced to a range of reading techniques and critical theory relating to each of these textual forms, whilst exploring the ever-changing landscape of a nation shaken by ongoing revolution and social change.
Introduction to Modern French Poetry
This module provides an introduction to three major figures in modern French poetry (Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Apollinaire), and to the major formal developments in poetry in the period 1850-1914, including the prose poem and free verse. Students will learn to analyse, interpret and write commentaries on poetry, and individual poems will be considered in relation to broad themes such as the representations of self, and notions of modernism.
On Location: Cinematic Explorations of Contemporary France
This module offers students an opportunity to explore actual cultural, economic and social differences within modern France through its representations in contemporary filmmaking. Beyond narrative themes, students will gain an understanding of how filmmakers engage the formal resources of cinema, both fiction and documentary, to capture the specificities of diverse spaces and places and to invite reflection on larger questions of identity and community, nation and citizenship, mobility and belonging.
Sociolinguistics: An Introduction
This module provides you with an introduction to the rich field of study known as sociolinguistics, which investigates the relationship between language and society through an exploration of the social contexts of language use.
Particular areas of focus in any one year of the module could include:
- intercultural communication
- politeness and face
- linguistic determinism
- power and solidarity
- language choice
- speech act theory
- the ethnography of communication
- language and gender
- approaches to the study of discourse/talk
Introduction to Contemporary Science Fiction
Focusing on texts ranging from the novels of Jules Verne through to Élisabeth Vonarburg, this module will engage with key themes in French science fiction writing. Whether it deals with the discoveries of new worlds or the confrontation with new technologies, science fiction as a genre expresses the anxieties and hopes specific to the contemporary era. Science fiction is political in that it deals with questions of power, ecology and science. It is also philosophical, since it calls into question boundaries between cultures, times, genres and species. Drawing on these political and philosophical dimensions, the module will look in particular at how science fiction explores the ways in which identity is constructed and reconfigured by material and technological forces.
Literature and Politics in Modern France
This module looks at various ways in which French writers have engaged with the political struggles of their time. Through the study of key authors of what is often referred to as ‘committed’ literature, the module will analyse how the tension between literature and politics has shaped these texts. Through an analysis of this committed literature, the module will trace the emergence of the ‘intellectual’ as an important figure in modern French culture and society.
Huit Tableaux: Art and Politics in Nineteenth-Century France (1799-1871)
Huit Tableaux examines the course of French history from the Consulate (1799) to the Paris Commune (1871). On this module you will trace how a succession of regimes struggled and ultimately failed to move on from the preoccupations of the Revolution.
Eight more or less well-known works of art (principally painting but also sculpture) are used as a platform for exploring the period, focusing on the way in which these works tackle issues of national identity, religion and political culture.
Among the Huit tableaux dealt with are David's Sacre de Napoléon, Delacroix's La Liberté guidant le peuple, and Meissonier's Le Siège de Paris.
Enlightenment Literature: An Introduction
This module is an introduction to the study of 18th century French literature, through a variety of texts chosen to offer an accessible approach to the period’s main literary genres and movements of thought. Alongside an investigation of how literature developed during this era, you will consider key questions that thinkers and writers grappled with:
- What is like to fall in love?
- What is happiness and how do we find it?
- How important is personal freedom?
- Are people naturally good?
- How do we live well with others?
- How do we learn about the world and make sense of our experiences?
Contemporary Francophone Cinema and Social Issues
This module engages in a detailed analysis of four recent Francophone films that deal with contemporary social issues and institutions: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, L’Enfant (2005); Jacques Audiard, Un prophète (2009); Thomas Lilti, Hippocrate (2014); Stéphane Brizé, La loi du marché (2015). It focuses on the way in which the films present characters in a social context. The module looks at the ways in which these characters are subject to economic forces, interact with institutions, and function as members of social groups. The films are analysed from a formal perspective, considering the ways in which they all draw on the resources of cinematic realism in order to provide a representation of contemporary life that is both compelling and challenging for viewers.
Art and Contemporary Visual Culture in France
This module explores contemporary art and media production in France and beyond, looking at how recent French art and ideas feature in and contribute to a cultural world-system. We will be looking at pioneering artworks from the late 20th century and the 21st century, examining work in film, visual art of many genres, photography, music and also media technology.
Beginning with key foundational artists from the 1960s and 1970s, we move on to consider works across artistic media, mostly from the 21st century, and this will form the principal course content.
We will be looking at the work of individual artists in detail, both for the value of the work, but also to explore how contemporary cultural production reflects and reacts to the world in which it is made. Visual art is particularly useful in this context as it necessarily contains a reflective element, and this is often critical of existing situations. We will also incorporate key readings by theorists who have reflected on the themes, media, technology and politics of both art and culture in the broader sense.
European Silent Cinema
This module will examine the development of cinema during the silent era, from its invention in the 1890s through to the early 1930s, in France, Germany and the Russian Empire/Soviet Union. Because silent cinema was easy to translate and export from one country to another, it was highly transnational, and the module will enable you to see how filmmakers in different countries entered into dialogue with one another. You will be able to compare and contrast the themes and preoccupations of films produced in these countries, and consider how these reflected distinct political and cultural agendas.
The first part of the module will introduce students to the history of early film, primarily as it developed in France, looking at short actualité films produced by the Lumière brothers and others. It will consider the practices of display of ‘silent’ film (looking especially at how it was accompanied by music, speech and sound effects), and look at its appeal to popular audiences as well as its broader critical reception. We will then go on to consider a range of films made during the silent era, which represent two main tendencies:
- A tendency towards realism and the examination of everyday life
- A tendency towards fantasy and the creation of spectacular new realitie
You will be introduced to the fundamentals of film language and will be encouraged to engage in close analysis of short extracts from the films.
Films will include (but will not be limited to):
- Georges Méliès, Voyage to the Moon (1902)
- Louis Feuillade, Fantômas serial (1913)
- Paul Wegener, The Golem (1920)
The Rise of Modern China
This module covers the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. It looks at social, cultural, political and economic developments in this period from a variety of angles and approaches.
The module focuses in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of 'modernity' in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a 'modern' nation-state and society.
Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914
This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of the major political, social and economic developments in Central Europe between 1848 and 1914. They should become aware of the main historiographical debates concerning the region and the Habsburg Monarchy in particular.
As a result of their historical studies and analytical thinking, students should enhance and develop a range of intellectual and transferable skills.
British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939
This module provides a study of British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939. It focuses in particular on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world, such as the making of the ententes, entry into the two world wars, appeasement and relations with other great powers. It also discusses the wider background factors which influenced British policy and touches on such diverse factors as Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868
This module covers two-and-a-half centuries in Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterized as a period of relative stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Lectures and seminars address some of the historical forces that would combine to transform society and lay the foundations for Japan’s subsequent encounters with modernity. Key themes include: the premises of Tokugawa rule, control mechanisms and relations with daimyo lords; the self-imposed policy of seclusion, trade and external relations; transport networks, class mobility and urbanization; the emergence of ‘the Floating World’ and the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the responses of competing schools of thought drawing on Japanese, Chinese and European texts to address problems within Japanese society; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World.
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?
This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War, up to the end of the Attlee’s Labour government in 1951. Key issues include:
- changing gender roles and expectations
- the experience and impact of rationing, bombing, conscription, voluntary service and direction by central government
- historiographical debates about whether Britain was united against a common enemy
- propaganda, mass communication and the management of information
- planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system
- post-war reconstruction of cities
- reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry, returning service personnel, returning Prisoners of War
- post-war austerity
- representations of the period and the construction of memory
Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900
The module introduces students to the cultural historiography on how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). In particular, it focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. These provide a number of thematic approaches that will build into a composite picture of how experience was reshaped during this period. Topics may include:
- ‘Haussmannisation’ processes across Europe and the contested terrain of the boulevard;
- The development of mapping, surveying and statistics;
- The bourgeois home as a site of identity, the meanings of interior design;
- The department store and new contested sites of consumer culture;
- Photography as a means of both identity-creation and detection;
- The cultural meanings of pollution and waste;
- Slum literature as a source of anxiety and control,
- Museum culture, exhibitions, and the ordering of imperial knowledge.
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The module is divided into three major geographic and chronological sections. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. In the second part, we will focus on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). In the final section, we will discuss Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. The final, pre-revision class meeting will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as “the Imperial Metropolis.
The stranger next door: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
The module explores the diversity of ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in middle Ages, seeking to offer alternative views to these of Jews as mere victims in a religious struggle or of economic envy. We will study the complex economic interconnections between the two groups, considering the new approaches to the role of Jewish moneylending and international trade and its connections with structures of power in both communities. The module will also investigate crucial ideas on anti- Semitism and anti-Judaism and will look into case studies of intolerance and conflict between Jews and Christians. Themes to study here are the massacres of Jews in the Rhineland during the First Crusade, the persecution of Jews during the Black Death and the construction of Blood libel and ritual murder accusations. The module will also examine the internal life of the Jewish communities of Western Europe looking at communal organisation and leadership. We will consider differences amongst Jewish communities in different locations of the medieval European landscape in their understanding of Jewish Law and tradition, as well as in their own patterns of interaction with the Christian political and religious authorities in different locations. At the same time, we will explore the common cultural and religious characteristics and the creation of extensive national and supranational Jewish networks. Finally, we will evaluate the historiography on the subject and the changing of perspectives on the history of the Jews in Europe, analysing the debates arisen amongst scholars with their own ideologies, methods and approaches.
Sex, Lies and Gossip? Women of Medieval England
Later medieval England was a patriarchal society. Women were considered of great importance because of their roles as mothers. However, medieval women were also considered to be more passionate and sexual than men; they were considered wile and guileful and it was thought that they spent much of their time gossiping. Using a wide range of translated medieval sources this course will pose questions about how English women overcame and operated within these stereotypical preconceptions. It will examine women in terms of progression through their life cycle from daughters under the protection of their fathers, to the work available to single women, to married women and the law – mothers under the ‘protection’ of their husbands – and then to widows and the increased opportunities available to these women. In doing so, it will examine a number of aspects of medieval women’s lives from female piety to women and work, medieval attitudes to women and sex and the gendered medieval understanding of power and authority. The course will allow students to recover much of the essence of medieval life. Were later medieval English women merely disadvantaged or were they actively downtrodden within a patriarchal society? Further, it considers the extent to which the foundations of modern gender inequalities were established in the middle ages.
Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-medieval England
Political and constitutional history forms the core of this module, which covers a period when kingship in England was a high-risk occupation. From the mid-thirteenth century until the late fifteenth century a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy, resulting in as many as seven depositions. The module investigates the nature of kingship and the circumstances when a king's authority was challenged.
Environmental History: Nature and the Western World, 1800-2000
The module is an introduction to the environmental history of the Western World over the past two centuries. It examines the history of environmental ideas and our changing attitudes to animals and nature, alongside the history of human impacts on the environment using the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain as case studies. Topics include species history, the rise of popular movements concerned with the environment, the role of the state in environmental protection, the history of pollution and pesticide use; the National Park movement and the Nature Reserve and the rise of outdoor leisure and recreation. The role of wildlife television and natural history film-making will also be examined.
From East India Company to West India Failure: The First British Empire
This module highlights key debates and themes in the history of the ‘first’ British Empire 1600-1807.
trade to the East and colonisation to the West
how the British government protected their empire and enforced a trading monopoly within it
the loss of the American colonies
the impact of abolition upon the valuable slave trade.
The module explores the key themes of ideology and identity; the concept of formal and informal empires and the causes and consequences of historical change.
The Victorians: Life, Thought and Culture
The module mixes intellectual, cultural and social history to produce an overview of cultural trends in Britain between c. 1830 and 1901. Key themes include:
- The Victorians, An Overview
- Religion: Sin and Redemption
- Consumerism and the Mass Market
Soviet State and Society
This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
European Fascisms, 1900-1945
The module examines the rise of fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the wake of the First World War, setting this in the context of broader developments towards counter-revolutionary and authoritarian politics in the 1920s and 1930s (e.g. in Spain and Portugal). By comparing Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany with ‘failed’ fascisms in Britain and France, it seeks to understand why certain movements were able to seize power and proved more popular than others. The module examines the social composition of fascist movements, the nature of fascist ideology and the relationship of fascism to the ‘inter-war crisis’, which had economic, political and social dimensions. The practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power is also analysed and compared with particular reference to class repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, policies on ‘race’ and expansion through conquest; the module ends by considering the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants. The module will examine the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender.
- Venice and international context
- The Venetian economy
- Constitution and administration
- Venice at war and peace
- Patricians, citizens and popular classes
- Women in Venice: wives and workers, whores and nuns
- Urban fabric
- Patronage and the arts
- Artisans and printers
- Religion and the republic
- Jews and foreigners
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, c.1970-1990
In the 1970s and 1980s, momentous economic changes swept through traditional industrial regions across the West, turning proud heartlands into rustbelts in less than a generation. As the lights went out in shipyards, steelworks, coal mines and manufacturing plants, a way of life was destroyed for millions of manual workers and their families, with profound repercussions on identities, communities and urban topographies. This module examines the social and cultural impact of de-industrialisation in the north of England, the German Ruhr basin, and the American Midwest, using a wealth of diverse primary sources, from government records to popular music, to tease out what it meant to live through a period of tumultuous socio-economic change. The module takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including:
- Change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding.
- Political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures.
- The impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life.
- Changing ideas of social class.
- Mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences.
- Gender and identity, with a particular emphasis on the crisis of ‘muscular masculinity’.
- Urban decline and regeneration.
- Youth and youth subcultures in post-industrial cities.
- Cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994
The purpose of this module is to examine current debates in the historiography about the end of the European empires in African and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics which will feature particularly strongly are
- the emergence of a variety of different forms of African nationalism
- the ongoing debate about the uneven economic development of Africa during the last years of empire and the first years of independence
- the controversies surrounding the numerous colonial wars which were fought during the liberation struggle
- the significance of race including the question of European settlements and migration
- the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. Countries which will be examined in particular detail will include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, the Congo, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthdox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.