HST6081: Islands and Isolation in European History, 1517-2017
15 credits (Semester 2017-18: Spring)
Module Leader: Dr Dina Gusejnova
'Marooned on the edges of the world or placed at the heart of utopia, islands have fascinated writers and poets for centuries. Now it's time for historians to take over.' Dr Dina Gusejnova
Geographic location is an important, if not necessarily a determinant, factor in history. At first sight, islands might appear to be peripheral to the understanding of the social and economic history of the European continent, which is dominated by land rather than maritime-orientated political communities. As a field of research, 'island studies' has been developed by world historians who specialise in regions which are dominated by islands and archipelagoes. This course will invite you to reconsider this common assumption about European history. Using the island as an idea and as a location of some key events and social processes, you will chart some of the most significant developments in European social and cultural history over a period of five hundred years. Taking a longue durée approach centred around a set of core texts, the course will flesh out the significance of islands in the development of ideas and social practices which are at the core of European identity from the early modern period to the contemporary world. Islands have always attracted the human imagination by virtue of their isolation from the economic or political processes on larger continents. Whether utopian or punitive, the ‘possibility of an island’ (to adapt the title of a novel by Michel Houellebecq) has affected the way European societies have expressed their dreams, punished their supposed enemies, or negotiated their political freedoms at times of war and conflict.
This module aims to:
By the end of the unit, students should be able to:
|Seminar hours||Tutorial hours||Independent Learning|
The module will be taught in five, two hour classes. The first seminar will introduce the framework of Island studies and invite you to share your reading experience of at least one key text of theory or fiction (LOs 1, 2). The following seminars will include period-specific readings and equip you with the historiographical framework of particular island case studies (LO2). The final seminar will include a series of presentations in which you will be asked to interpret a case study of your choice through the lens of a work of fiction of your choice (LOs 1, 3). You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader to discuss your written work for this module.
|Assessment||% of final mark||Length|
You will prepare a 3,000-word paper on a topic agreed with the tutor. The essay will be expected to include discussion of the key historiographical debates surrounding the topic and the use and critical analysis of appropriate secondary literature and primary sources (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4).
- Godfrey Baldacchino, ‘Islands, Island Studies, Island Studies Journal’, in Island Studies Journal, 1:1 (2006), pp. 3-18
Key works of fiction and theory
- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719) (any edition)
- John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624) (any edition)
- Thomas More, Utopia, ed. George M. Logan and Robert M. Adams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The GULAG Archipelago, Transl. Thomas P. Whitney (New York and London: Harper & Row, 1973)
- Renaud Morieux, The Channel. England, France and the Construction of a Maritime Border in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)
- Richard Price, The Convict and the Colonel: A Story of Colonialism and Resistance in the Caribbean (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006)
- Gerry Simpson, Great Power and Outlaw States. Unequal Sovereigns in the International Legal Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
- Adam Zamoyski, Rites of Peace. The Fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna (London: Harper Press, 2007).