Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy

History and Politics Course Choices and Reading List

Welcome Letter from History Tutors

Dear Fresher,

We are looking forward to having you with us in October. We write now to invite you to make some choices for the course you will follow in the first year. As you may know already, those studying history and politics are required to take a classified examination - Prelims - at the end of the first year. We would like you to undertake some preparatory reading for some of the work to be covered in the first term.

Historians study a period of the history of the British Isles in the first term. We invite you now to choose which you will study (see course descriptions below). Please specify a first and a second choice. When you have chosen, we will send an introductory reading list.  Please complete the form below to inform us of your choices by Friday, 19th July.

Most historians at Lincoln study Historiography in the first year. We enclose a schedule of set texts. You should choose four of the authors. We hope that you will be able to read the set text in these four cases, with care but without attempting to master the historical matter to which individual texts may refer.

There are a number of alternatives to Historiography, involving a study of texts in a foreign language. If you have A level (or similar level of attainment) in another language and would like to consider these options, please let us know. Otherwise, please confirm that you wish to study Historiography and specify your choice of authors using the form below by Friday, 19 July.

Your Politics tutor is Dr Jody LaPorte (reading list to follow).

Information about the College Book Grant Scheme will be sent to you at a later date.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Perry Gauci

Lucy Wooding

Aled Davies

Course Description and Reading Lists

History of the British Isles

There will be a chance to study other periods of the History of the British Isles later in the course.

IV: 1500-1700

The two centuries from 1500 to 1700 are rich in memorable incident. Henry VIII, clothed in immaculate white, presiding at a heresy trial; Elizabeth in full armour addressing her troops at Tilbury; Charles I stepping from the banqueting house, a temple to Stuart monarchical aspiration, to the scaffold in Whitehall; Cromwell at Dunbar, reining in his cavalry for triumphant prayer before pursuing the shattered Scottish army; the disguised James II fleeing his kingdom in a fishing boat. Focussing upon such tableaux emphasizes the period as one of tension and crisis, in which, to borrow a favourite Quaker image, ‘the World turned upside down’. How else can we describe the break with Rome, or the Civil War and Britain’s experiment with Republicanism, or the 1688 Revolution? Yet these watersheds cannot be understood solely in terms of discontinuity and conflict, and the themes which unify these incidents and give meaning to the period as a whole will be at the heart of this course. The formation of the British state, the shifting power of the English monarchy, the crisis of parliaments and civil war, and the drama of the Reformation are its unifying narrative topics, but wider structural questions, of economic and social change, of ideological and cultural development, will also be addressed. Work on this period has always been characterized by
vibrant debate on the nature of political and religious change. Did the Reformation appeal to the people? Was faction a dominant force in the politics of the Tudor court? Did the civil war have long-term causes? These questions still exercise historians and will be some of the issues you will be able to address as part of your study. However, recent scholarship has suggested new research agendas that will also inform your work in this course. In relation to some questions, the experience of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, as well as England, will be studied. In the case of the civil war, for example, students now investigate that crisis as ‘the fall of the British monarchy’: the first occasion on which all parts of the British Isles were associated in one political upheaval. New perspectives on British history are only one of a number of exciting aspects of the paper. Political history has moved to embrace political culture – the experience of court; the role of ideology; popular political values articulated through rebellions and legal disputes; the politics of gender. Different themes also involve the use of distinctive types of evidence, and, for example, students will be introduced to the iconography of monarchy, to masque in the Stuart court, to popular pamphleteering. This course will offer the opportunity to build from a core political and religious narrative, to encounters with
stimulating historical debate and finally to a more general grasp of the social and political structures of the early modern British Isles.

V: 1688-1848

This course begins with the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688-9, which had profound consequences for the nature of government across the British Isles, the relationship between
the churches and the state, Britain’s role in Europe and the wider world, and relations between three of the four component nations of the British Isles. In England and somewhat later in Scotland, commerce and manufacturing flourished to the extent that contemporaries began to perceive a series of profound economic and social transformations. One of the most visible symptoms of change was accelerating and broadening urbanization in England and Scotland, and the growth of large provincial towns and cities. London rose to be a city of global importance, at the centre of an empire which stretched across the Atlantic, into the Pacific, and which exercised a superficially impressive hegemony in India. This period saw the making of the United Kingdom, starting with the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 and culminating in the Anglo-Irish Union of 1800, and Scotland in particular became a great centre of Enlightenment thought and learning. By the end of the period, Protestant Dissenters and Catholics had acquired full political rights, major political reforms had been enacted by the Whig governments of the 1830s, and Britain had become ‘the first industrial nation’. Such developments made Britain an object of fascination – often of admiration – to other Europeans. However, these developments were associated with strains, tensions, and frequent conflicts. Britain spent much of this period at war, defending its positions in Europe and the world. At least up until the crushing of the Jacobite army at Culloden in 1746, the Jacobite challenge to the future of the Protestant and Hanoverian Succession was menacing. The nature and meaning of empire were called into question by the rupturing of the first British empire and the creation of the United States of America in the War of American Independence (1776-83). Empire was associated not just with commerce and prosperity but with violence and an often undisguised rapacity. Slavery and the slave trade were its key props. Britain’s claims to liberty and humanity as national values looked increasingly threadbare to a growing number of people. Meanwhile, the prosperity associated with commercial and industrial society was shadowed by the problem of mass poverty that became ever more acute after 1795. Self-scrutiny and introspection were intensified and complicated by the rise of Evangelicalism, and the outbreak of the French Revolution, the long ensuing war, and the social, economic, and political turbulence of the next two decades. Scotland might have emerged as Britain’s loyal province by the early nineteenth century, but the capacity of the United Kingdom to bring peace and prosperity to an uneasy, restive and combustible Ireland was under renewed question with the calamity of the Great Famine and the Irish rebellion of 1848. Only three years later (in 1851), a million or more international visitors would pour into London to witness Britain’s technological, industrial and financial supremacy at the Great Exhibition. Yet in the ‘backyard’ of this ‘nation’ had just occurred the catastrophe of famine. The quality of writing on the period reflects its fundamental importance and interest for the understanding of modern Britain. Not often studied at A-Level, it is a period which has a great deal to offer at university.

VI: 1830-1951

The period covered by this paper was characterised by rapid and wide-ranging changes to the political, social, cultural and economic fabric of the United Kingdom. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Great Reform Act in 1832, and further constitutional reforms in 1867, 1884, and 1918 and 1928 transformed Parliament, shifting the balance of power from the House of Lords to the House of Commons. In the process, in response to campaigns for women’s suffrage, the vote was extended to women and ideas of political participation and citizenship were re- defined. In the early twentieth century, new ideas about national efficiency and social welfare prompted the development of projects for social insurance, education reform and the protection of workers which would underpin the development of the welfare state during and after the Second World War. Alongside these changes to civil society, the period saw smaller scale shifts in family dynamics, with children accorded increasing importance within family life, and new ideas about the role and responsibilities of mothers and fathers shaping conceptions of masculinity and femininity. At the same time, Britain’s position on the world stage was continually evolving. By the beginning of the twentieth century, it stood at the centre of a world-empire, the hub of the world’s financial system, and Ireland was still politically united to Britain; by mid-century, an independent Ireland had been established, and nationalist movements were fostering movement for independence throughout the British Empire. Although the period might often be seen as usefully divided by the turn of the 19th century, the 1830-1951 chronology allows us to call into question over-simplified explanations for change that attribute too much simply to the change of century, or to the impact of war. The paper and lectures also try to give the period a unity, allowing students to consider questions about long-range social, economic, and cultural changes across the period while also taking into account short-range and particular political developments. Political, social, cultural and economic and structural changes are thus considered as mutually reinforcing phenomena, but also recognised as having their own chronologies and historiographical frameworks.

Historiography: Tacitus to Weber

There are two routes commonly pursued in the study of historical writing and method: first, study of the techniques which, as of today, we hold to be most relevant, and secondly, the study of classic texts in Western historical writing. This paper takes the second road, and the student may reasonably hope to be exercised (or derive profit) in the following areas: 1. the close reading of texts which really will bear close reading — reading being still the most fundamental of all historical techniques; 2. a grasp of central problems in their broadest outlines — such as the scope and proper subject matter of history; historical objectivity; the interrelation of the author's past and present concerns; the relations of literature and history; and (not least) why we should bother with history at all; 3. the outlines of how the Western historical tradition has evolved in fact.

Prescribed Texts:

This paper is concerned with important historians and their works. Candidates will be required to show knowledge of at least three authors and texts. Passages for comment will not be set.

(i) Tacitus, Annals, Bks I-IV; and Agricola (both available in Penguin edns.).

(ii) St Augustine, The City of God, Bk V; Bk XII, chs. 10-28; Bk XV, chs. 4-17; Bk XVIII, chs. 1-27; Bk XIX, chs. 10-24 (available in Penguin and Cambridge paperback edns.).

(iii) Machiavelli, Discourses, Bk I, Preface, chs. 1-6, 9-19, 25-27, 55-60; Bk II, Preface, chs. 1-4, 19-22, 28-30; Bk III, chs. 1-9, 40, 43 (ed. J.&P. Bondanella, Oxford World Classics, 1997).

(iv) Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chs. 1-3, 8, 9, 14 and 15, `General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West' (available in Penguin and Everyman edns.).

(v) Ranke, History of the Reformation in Germany, Author's Preface; Bk II, chs. 1, 3, 4; Bk III, chs. 1, 3, 5; Bk IV, chs. 2, 5.

(vi) Macaulay, `Milton' (1825), `History' (1825), `Sir James Macintosh' (1835), `Ranke's History of the Popes' (1840), in his Essays; The History of England, Ch. X, final section entitled `Peculiar Character of the English Revolution' (available in Everyman and several other edns.).

(vii) Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, tr. Talcott Parsons (London, 1991), pp. 13-183; `Science as a Vocation', tr. Michael John, in P. Lassman and I. Velody (eds.), Max Weber's `Science as a Vocation' (London, 1989), pp. 3-31.

Course Choices

Please complete this form by Friday 19 July 2024

Welcome Letter from Politics Tutor

Welcome letter and reading list to follow - please check back in a few weeks. 

Jody LaPorte

Fellow in Politics