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History 408a, History of England, Fall 2007

John A. Taylor, Professor of History, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

TR 11 AM - 12:15 PM PH 3313

Office PH 1225, Telephone 618-650-2836

Office Hours T 10:30-11 AM and TR 2:30-3:30 PM

Final Exam Thursday December 13 at 10 AM in PH 3313



Brigden, New Worlds, Lost Worlds

Brewer, The Sinews of Power

Other books:

Macaulay, History of England

Russell, The Causes of the English Civil War

Sylvester and Harding, eds., Two Early Tudor Lives

Wooton, Divine Right and Democracy


Gregory King, Esq., Natural and Political Observations

General Remarks

Is anyone so dull of mind as not to be interested in how a small and undistinguished nation, on the very margin of an also undistinguished Europe, rose in two hundred and fifty years to mastery of the world? And can anyone be uninterested in why British power declined in an even briefer period of seventy-five years? Underlying this course is an attempt to explain these puzzles. To make an explanation, the course combines two theories. First is a claim or thesis developed before the First World War by the German scholar Max Weber. He said that the English began the process of modernization in the Protestant Reformation. Second, we will look at the parallel notion that British rise to power is explained by the nation's priority in democracy and capitalism, and this priority in turn is due to Protestantism. We will call this second notion Whig and will begin with an evaluation of it. Beyond Weber and Whiggery, this course will also explore recent theories of British national identity. These new arguments, in sum, go like this. The English developed their national identity in the Protestant Reformation. Then, in the eighteenth century, the English persuaded other British Protestants to accept a common British national identity. Whiggery was not an objective argument, by this view, but merely a subjective belief and the foundation of national identity. British success was due among other things to a steadfast sense of community.

All students will take a midterm exam and a final exam; there will also be an occasional pop quiz on assigned reading. All submissions must be written in dark ink. Pencil submissions will not be acceptable. In addition, each student will make an oral presentation in class. Graduate students will also write research papers on the topics of their presentations. In each case, topics will be selected in consultation with the instructor. A first draft of the essay, with all notes and sources, is to be submitted to the instructor, and then a second draft is to incorporate suggested revisions. Again, no pencil submission will be accepted. Class attendance, quiz scores, class participation, and, in the case of graduate students, essays, will all be taken into account. Your grade for the course will be based on an average of these major items, and each of them will have an equal weight. The worst test or quiz grade can be dropped, except for the final exam grade, but no test may be omitted.

Students will adhere to conventional rules of academic procedure. Attendance and class participation are very important, and excessive absence (more than four class sessions) will not be tolerated. Students are not to come to class late, nor are they to interrupt class by departure previous to the scheduled end of the day's session. Turn off all pagers and mobile phones during class. Plagiarism will not be tolerated, and all work submitted in the course must be original compositions with quotations properly noted.

The reading assignments are challenging. Begin reading at once.

Course Schedule

The semester begins on 21 August 2007 and the Thanksgiving Break occupies 19-23 November.

I. Aug. 21 and 23. Introduction

Reading: Trevor-Roper's Introduction to Macaulay.

II. Aug. 28 and 30. Whig Theory

Reading: Brigden, New Worlds, Lost Worlds, pp. 1-84.

III. Sept. 4 and 6. Brigden, pp 85-178.

IV. Sept. 11 and 13 Life of Wolsey complete; Wooton, pp. 393-94

V. Sept. 18 and 20. Brigden, pp. 179-238

VI. Sept. 25 and 27. , Brigden, pp. 239-310; Wooton, pp. 214-228...

VII. Oct. 2 and Oct. 4. Brigden, pp. 311-end.

VIII. Oct. 9 and Oct. 11 Review and Midterm Exam


IX. Oct. 16 and 18. Russell

X. Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. Russell


XI. Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 Macaulay

XII. Nov. 6 and Nov 8. Wooton


XIII. Nov. 13 and Nov.15. Brewer

Thanksgiving Break - Nov. 19-23, 2007 - No Classes

XIV. Nov. 27 and 29 Gregory King


XV. Dec. 4 and. 6 Review

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