HST694: Revolutionary England, 1640-1660: Politics, Culture & Society
15 credits (Semester 2019-20: Spring))
Module Leader: Professor Mike Braddick
'The 1640s and 1650s were among the most turbulent and traumatic periods in English history. The civil wars and constitutional crises were richly documented by the rival administrations, political partisans and by those who kept diaries and letters from the period, and this rich source material throws light both on the crisis and on the society from which it arose. This rich body of source material allows students either to study the English revolution or to better understand many dimensions of cultural, social, economic, literary, artistic or political history of early modern England.' Professor Mike Braddick
This module will introduce you to the study of English politics and society between 1640 and 1660. You will use primary and secondary sources in seminars to analyse both contemporary writings and historiographical debates on the causes and significance of the civil war, defined broadly to include not just formal political debate but also popular movements (including witch hunts, clubman associations and forms of economic and social protest) and other forms of intellectual creativity (astrology and natural science for example). The aim is to understand both the conflict, and the social and cultural values through which it was experienced and resolutions were sought.
This module aims to give you a solid grounding in the pertinent primary sources and historiographical debates concerning the political, social and cultural history of revolutionary England. You will undertake a structured programme of reading, presentation and discussion. You will be expected to understand a range of contemporary perspectives and to grasp the ambiguities and complexity of contemporary responses to the political crisis and the war to which it gave rise. In doing so, you will come to a better understanding of the cultural and social history of early modern England more generally. Where appropriate the module draws on sources and methods from political thought, practical politics and social and cultural history. This will enable you to engage critically with a divergent range of historiographies, and to apply insights and models across methodological boundaries.
By the end of the module, you will be able to demonstrate:
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The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. Each class will focus on a particular theme for discussion in relation to important primary sources and the broader historical literature. Classes will enable you to research and present your ideas, share knowledge, debate controversial issues and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader in order to discuss your written work for this module.
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You will prepare a short paper (not more than 3,000 words) which demonstrates an ability to handle primary evidence and which relates this to the key themes of historical debate for the early modern period.
The reading for this module is based around the module group’s interests.
If you would like to do some general reading before the module starts the following books will be useful:
- Michael Braddick, God’s Fury, England’s Fire: A new history of the English civil wars (2008)
- Michael Braddick (ed), The Oxford Handbook, The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution (2015)