And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills.

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O Clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land!

—William Blake (1757-1827)

GREAT BRITAIN, at the height of her power, controlled a quarter of the world’s population, a fifth of its dry surface, and enjoyed unchallenged mastery over its oceans. This course surveys the remarkable history of the British Isles from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the present day. The shaping and reshaping of this unique nation state during the last two centuries will be examined with regard to the history of the European continent and the British Empire as well as within the wider story of the making of the modern world. As we proceed we will attempt to understand how politics, diplomacy, warfare, commerce, science, industry, technology, art, literature, music, and migration all interacted to help shape Modern British society into the twenty-first century.

This course is designed to engage us at two levels. It is primarily an empirical history of Modern Britain from the early nineteenth century to the present. Yet in the process, it forces us to examine what it means to be "British," a "nation," and a "people." How did the English, Scots, Welsh and Anglo-Irish come to view themselves as "British"? Are these regional identities a sign of British national unity through diversity, or are they themselves nations waiting to become independent? Will Great Britain as a sovereign state endure? As arriving immigrants—many from her former empire—and their children turn Britain into a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, how does that redefine notions of British identity? Is this a new phenomenon, or merely the latest manifestation of outside influences that have always been part of the British experience? Is Britain really a nation that has long since declined—as is often lamented—or is it a vibrant and young society transforming itself in remarkable ways? We will keep these and other questions in mind as we examine the historical development of Modern Britain.

Readings for this course will combine historical scholarship with literature, documents, and music from different periods. Students are encouraged to view all of these sources as historical texts and to consider broader questions about the nature of culture, gender, religion, technology, monarchy, and national identity. Through the critical study of history, we encounter ourselves, and the world in which we live, in new and interesting ways.

This is an introductory course for which there are no prerequisites. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

David Campion
Pamplin Associate Professor of History
Miller 409 | MSC 41

Lewis & Clark College
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, Oregon 97219 USA

Tel: 503.768.7435
Fax: 503.768.7418
Email: campion@lclark.edu

Class Hours:
MWF 9:10-10:10
Miller 104

Office Hours:
MW 10:15-12:15
(or by appointment)
Miller 409

Course Requirements

Schedule of Classes

Assignment Guidelines

Map Exercise

Modern Britain in Film

British and Irish Online Resources

Prof. Campion's Other Courses

Top (left to right):
London police constable © Metropolitan Police
Eyre Crowe, The Dinner Hour, Wigan, 1874 © Manchester Art Gallery
Winston S. Churchill, 1941, photograph by Yousuf Karsh
Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament, London © Daily Mail
Queen Victoria, 1882, photograph by Alexander Bassano
St Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz, 29 December 1940 (photo by Herbert Mason originally published in Daily Mail)
Margaret Thatcher at the 1984 Conservative Party Conference (photo by Roy Letkey)

Bottom (left to right):
Heywood Hardy, Meeting before the Fox Hunt
Mourning a fallen comrade at Pilkem, Third Battle of Ypres, 1917 (Q.2756) © Imperial War Museums
2012 Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Olympic & Titantic, White Star Line poster, 1912 (artist unknown)
The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night © EMI Records Ltd.

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated February 2016