History 453: Modern Britain since 1815
Britain in Film, British History through Film

Prof. Jeffrey Auerbach
Spring 2009
Time: Tuesdays 4:20-6:50 pm
Location: SH 268


This course combines film, readings, lecture, and discussion to explore important people, events, and themes in the history of Great Britain and its empire from the Napoleonic Wars to the present day. Topics include the expansion and dissolution of the empire, Victorian attitudes toward sex and society, the experience of war, the impact of immigration, Ireland, Thatcherism, and contemporary Britain. Films will be analyzed from a historical perspective, and history will be explored from a filmic perspective. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which individual directors have represented history and identity.


The following books are available at the Matador Bookstore. They may also be available for signficantly less through an online vendor:

Course Policies: Lecture Topics and Readings:
An Imperial Nation

Jan. 20
Introduction Tom Jones and Britain's Eighteenth-Century Inheritance
Jan. 27 Britain Rules the Waves
Film: Master and Commander (2003); Read: Ferguson, Empire, xii-113
Feb. 3
Darkest Africa
Film: Sanders of the River (1935) and The Four Feathers (1939);
Read: Ferguson, Empire, 114-289
An Industrial Nation

Feb. 10
Hard Times? Read: Gaskell, North and South, 1-206
Feb. 17
North and South?
Read: Gaskell, North and South, 207-436
Feb. 24
Queen Victoria
Film: Mrs. Brown (1997); Read: Arnstein, Queen Victoria
March 3-10
Edwardian Tensions
Film: Howard’s End (1992)
A Nation at War

March 17
The Great War
Film: Galipoli (1981)
Read: Ferguson, Empire, 292-313
March 24
Film: Michael Collins (1996); Read: Paseta, Ireland, 1-143
March 31
No Class: Cesar Chavez Day
April 7 No Class: Spring Break
April 14
The Interwar Years
Read: Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier and Ferguson, Empire, 265-302;
Film: Gandhi (1982) [Read the screenplay and answer Viewing Questions]
An Immigrant Nation

April 21
Decolonization Read: Selvon, The Lonely Londoners; see Reading Questions
April 28
The Thatcher Years
Film: My Beautiful Laundrette (1986); Read: Evans, Thatcher and Thatcherism
May 5
Lingering Troubles Film: Bloody Sunday (2002); Read: Paseta, Ireland, 144-218

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