HIST 450



Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfill my duty towards my country; I am very young and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure that very few have more real good will and more desire to do what is right than I have.
—Queen Victoria, age 18, upon her accession to the throne, 1837

No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those miles of streets... the crowds were indescribable... the cheering was deafening and every face seemed to be filled with real joy... From my heart I thank my beloved people. May God bless them.
—Queen Victoria, age 78, upon her Diamond Jubilee, 1897

WHEN QUEEN VICTORIA died in 1901 she had ruled Britain and its empire for sixty-four years, longer than any other monarch in British history. The era to which she gave her name saw one of the most remarkable transformations in that history and indeed in the history of the world. Today Victorian society continues to fascinate historians and the general public alike. It was a time marked by dynamic change and striking contrasts. The rise of industrial capitalism was accompanied and enabled by brilliant innovations in science and technology. While this was the engine that drove Britain's political and economic predominance on the world stage, it was also the source of much political and social discontent at home. Victorian society was often constrained by a strict and stultifying class system, with its own narrow moral and social codes, and yet from within this conformity emerged some of the most creative and intellectually fearless minds of any age. The Victorians were imbued with the ideals of progress and humanitarian reform while at times coldly indifferent to the worst suffering in their midst. They ushered in a revival of religion while advancing scientific theories that challenged its most fundamental teachings. They amassed an empire upon which the sun never set at a time when foreign powers were closing the gap with Britain's economic and military advantage. From imperial pomp and pageantry to grinding poverty and urban squalor, from class rigidity to bold individuality, from colonial outposts at the furthest reaches of the globe to "little England," and from daring vision to prim narrow-mindedness the Victorians remain a lasting study in contrast.

This seminar traces the various and often competing strands of British and imperial society from the early nineteenth century to the onset of the First World War. The first half of the course will be devoted to reading various primary and secondary sources. The scope of the readings and discussions will address the political, social, religious, gender, and intellectual dimensions of Victorian Britain and its empire. Through group discussion, students will become acquainted with the most significant debates and historical schools of thought about the Victorians. The second half of the course will be devoted to individual research and presentations as students prepare their theses.

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:
TuTh 9:40-11:10
Miller 414

Office Hours:
TuTh 1:00-3:00
(or by appointment)
Miller 409

Course Requirements

Schedule of Classes

Research Paper Guidelines

The Victorians Online

The Victorians in Film

Prof. Campion's Other Courses

Top (left to right):
Canadian infantrymen storming a kopje in South Africa, c.1900, photograph by Capt. J.A. Holson © National Army Museum
Imperial Institute, London, c.1900
Queen Victoria with sceptre and orb; Victoria Memorial, London (courtesy of Victorian Web)
Eyre Crowe, The Dinner Hour, Wigan, 1874 © Manchester Art Gallery
Tower Bridge and Thames barges, c.1900 (courtesy of Victorian Web)

Bottom (left to right):
Franz Xavier Winterhaler, Portrait of Prince Albert, 1842 (courtesy of Victorian Web)
The Ripper strikes again, 1888 © Metropolitan Police
Edward Hale, Gloucestershire Regiment advancing to the Attack, Northwest Frontier, India, 1897 © National Army Museum
A view of the Manchester mills (artist unknown)
Sir Francis Grant, Portrait of Queen Victoria, 1843 (courtesy of Victorian Web)

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated February 2016