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Master in Arts Historical Studies

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  • Academic Title
    MA Historical Studies
  • Course description
    Introduction

    This programme will be running for part-time students only from September 2005. A full-time MA Historical Studies route will be operational from September 2006. Teaching will take place by means of evening lecture/seminars.

    Students will be able to choose from a number of optional units. These have been selected in order to offer students a broad chronological and spatial range of choice. All students will study the two core units, ‘Outside History – Contemporary Society and Constructing the Past’ and ‘Inside History – Approaches to the Study of the Past’. A 15,000 word dissertation will also be undertaken by all students on this MA programme, the subject of which will be negotiated between the student and the subject team.

    Programme structure

    PG Certificate:’; ‘Outside History: Contemporary Society and Constructing the Past’ and choose one* optional unit from: ‘Representation of War in Public History: Bomber Command in Lincolnshire in World War Two’; ‘Rural England: Land, Labour and Leisure, 1830-1939’; and ‘The Irish and England: Image, identity and popular memory, 1798-1822’.

    PG Diploma:’ Inside History: Approaches to the Study of the Past’; and choose one* optional unit from: ‘The Study of Political History in Britain’; ‘The Coming of the Third Reich’; ‘Women in Medieval Europe’; and John Bull & Uncle Sam: Popular Culture in the US and Britain, 1850-1950

    MA: 15,000 – 20,000 word dissertation

    * - it is envisaged that at least two of these optional units will run simultaneously

    Assessment: A variety of assessment forms will be used including: research projects; documentary critiques; essays; presentations; examinations; and the dissertation.

    Unit outlines

    Outside History: Contemporary Society and Constructing the Past (Core)

    Recently, public history - the engagement with history now, often outside the academy – has grown in Britain. The unit will examine how and why the past has permeated culture. It will critically examine how the past is represented in a variety of cultural forms and will equip students with a critical conceptual framework. Students will be given the opportunity to apply these analytical tools to a close scrutiny of a range of ways in which the past is represented and consumed within contemporary society.

    Inside History: Approaches to the Study of the Past (Core)

    This unit enables students to engage critically with the development of the discipline of History. A variety of different approaches to the subject are in turn analysed and contextualised. Their relationships with other approaches are examined through scrutiny of a series of historiographical debates.

    Having engaged critically with these approaches, students then explore problems and challenges associated with primary source-based research on a practical and ethical level before being confronted with these issues in the production of their dissertation proposal.

    Representation of War in Public History: Bomber Command in Lincolnshire in World War Two

    The history of Bomber Command in World War Two is of interest for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it falls firmly in the area of public history. Indeed much of the writing about Bomber Command has come from journalists, amateur local historians and former RAF personnel. The topic has also been a popular subject for televised public history, both documentary and fictional. Secondly, the history of Bomber Command is public history in terms of its role in the tourism industry. Lincolnshire is often called ‘Bomber County’ because of its close historic links with the Royal Air Force and aviation tourism is economically important to the county. Lastly, even before the end of the Second World War a number of ethical and moral issues were raised. The controversy about the strategic tactics of Bomber Command, especially the area bombing of cities such as Cologne and Dresden towards the end of the war, continues up to this day and will also be examined in this unit.

    Land, Labour and Leisure: Rural England, 1830-1939

    The study of rural England’s past has, in recent years, been invigorated by social and cultural historians’ approaches to the subject. This unit seeks to examine this work and to offer students the opportunities to engage directly with the historiographical debates through primary research. Agricultural labourers - both male and female – are placed at the centre of the unit’s examination of nineteenth-century rural England where the countryside is explored principally as a site of production.

    A significantly different approach to the study of rural England is adopted in the consideration of early twentieth-century England where, increasingly in the historiography, the land is regarded as a place of consumption. The unit considers how and why this occurred. In doing so, it examines critically the representation of the rural in popular culture during the period.

    The Irish and England: Image, identity and popular memory, 1798-1922

    The unit will consider the problematic nature of the relationship between Ireland and England and will examine the cultural expression of Irish belonging, looking especially at the use of the past in its construction

    The Study of Political History in Britain, 1885-1924

    This unit enables students to engage critically with the writing of British political history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A variety of different approaches to this subject are in turn analysed and contextualised. Their relationships with other approaches are examined through scrutiny of a series of historiographical debates. In the second half of the course students will examine a number of selected texts and historical writing covering the period 1885-1924 in order to test out how these different approaches have influenced the approaches and conclusions of political historians.

    The Coming of the Third Reich

    The unit will focus mainly on German history between the end of the First World War and the death of Hindenburg, i.e. the period during which the Nazis came to office and consolidated their power, after less than auspicious beginnings. The lecture programme in semester A will focus mainly on areas which are or have been contested in the historiography of the Weimar Republic and thus provide a framework for the students’ guided study in semester B.

    Women in Medieval Europe

    This unit will examine the lives of women in medieval Europe between about 1100 and 1550, looking at the roles they played, the images of them that circulated, and the relationships they had with their own and the opposite sex. It will attempt to evaluate the sometimes contradictory evidence about the positions and power of women in medieval society, and to assess how far this varied over the course of the medieval period, and throughout Europe.

    The unit will also require students to confront the problems of sources and methodology associated with studying a marginalised group at a time when women produced very little in the way of documents themselves.

    John Bull & Uncle Sam: Popular Culture in the US and Britain, 1850-1950

    This unit explores the development of popular culture from several vantage points: Early American imitation and absorption of British cultural forms; American influence (especially African American styles of music and dance); Influence of relations of capitalist production on both sides of the Atlantic; Critics of mass culture; and Americanization of British popular culture

    For the bulk of the period under study, one might argue that there were two primary historical trends—one which evinced transatlantic borrowings; the other, that popular cultural developments followed parallel processes within separate, but mutual changes in industrial and corporate capitalist development. As Daniel Rodgers argued in his suggestive work about social politics (Atlantic Crossings), the period between the 1870s-1940s marked an era of dialogue ‘when American politics was peculiarly open to foreign models and imported ideas’. This unit will explore the viability of Rodgers’ thesis applied to the history of popular culture.

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