Dear Land of Hope, thy hope is crowned.
God make thee mightier yet!
On Sov'ran brows, beloved, renowned,
Once more thy crown is set.
Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained,
Have ruled thee well and long;
By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained,
Thine Empire shall be strong.

Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider
Shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet.

—A.C. Benson (1902)

Though no one appears to learn very much from history, the rulers of empires assuredly learn the least.

—James Baldwin (1971)

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 full scope of British overseas expansion from the sixteenth century through the twentieth. The British Empire was one of the greatest trans-cultural phenomena of the modern world and thus the scope of our study will be accordingly wide. We will move back and forth between the history of imperial Britain and her many overseas possessions as we encounter narratives of conquest, settlement, collaboration, resistance, and technological and cultural exchange in the furthest reaches of British influence in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

The study of the British Empire is an ambitious undertaking. It is a vast and problematic subject and requires from the student of history a good measure of intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, and a willingness to venture into unfamiliar territory and encounter new historical problems and interpretations. We must always be attentive to the traditions of interpretation and meaning that have characterized the study of the British Empire at different times and mindful of what these have to tell us about the imperial experience. As the historian Richard Drayton reminds us, when we speak of "the British Empire," we are not referring to one single entity with a continuous history. Rather we are often speaking of many histories that overlap in time and space and are part of something that is neither British nor indeed an empire in the truest sense.

Readings for this course will combine historical scholarship with literature, documents, and music from different periods and places. Students are encouraged to view all of these sources as historical texts and to consider broader questions about the nature of imperialism, economic interdependence, "globalization," culture, race, gender, "progress," and modernity. Through the critical study of history, we encounter ourselves, and the world in which we live, in new and interesting ways.

This is a 300-level course generally reserved for juniors and seniors. There are no prerequisites but HIST 121, 222, or 224 are recommended. This course counts as an elective in the international affairs major.

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 11:30-12:30
Howard 243

Office Hours:
MW 1:30-3:30
(or by appointment)
Miller 409

Course Requirements

Schedule of Classes

Assignment Guidelines

The British Empire in Film

The British Empire Online

Prof. Campion's Other Courses

Top (left to right):
Sikh Officers, Raphael Tuck & Sons c.1910
Imperial Airways poster, c.1935, artist unknown
Britain's Imperial Lion, artist unknown
Queen Victoria, 1882, photograph by Alexander Bassano
Montague Dawson, HMS Java and USS Constitution off the coast of Brazil, 1812

Bottom (left to right):
Aden postage, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth 25th wedding anniversary, 1948
Canadian infantrymen storming a kopje in South Africa, c.1900, photograph by Capt. J.A. Holson © National Army Museum
"Our Heroes," A march in honour of Lords Kitchener and Roberts by Max Werner, c.1900
Victoria Terminus, Bombay, G.B.V. Ghoni, c.1910
G.W. Joy, The Death of General Gordon, 1893 © Leeds Art Gallery

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated December 2017