GOV 390L • British History, Literature, and Politics
4:30 PM-7:30 PM
This seminar is designed as a reading course in history, literature, and politics, and as a class in professional writing. In addition to the required reading listed below, each student draws up an individual reading list in consultation with the professor. The scope of the seminar includes not only the literature, history and politics of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland but also the interaction of British and other societies throughout the world. One point of emphasis will be the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth in its Asian and African as well as early American dimensions. Another point will be a focus on historical and literary biographyand autobiographyfor example, not only Disraeli, Virginia Woolf, T. E. Lawrence, and George Orwell but Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi, and Kenyatta. The main requirements of the course are met by students reading a book or its equivalent each week and by submitting a weekly critique of the reading. Each of the weekly essays is circulated to all other members of the class who make annotations on style as well as substance. The class thus becomes as much a course in professional writing as one in which individual academic interests are pursued. The class also meets together with the British Studies faculty seminar at three oclock Friday afternoons. This is a requirement of the course. In a more general way, the seminar upholds the principles of the Modern History Faculty at Oxfordto enhance (1) intellectual curiosity, (2) conceptual clarity; (3) flexibility, that is the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and new information; (4) accuracy and attention to detail; (5) critical engagement; (6) capacity for hard work (7) enthusiasm for history, literature, and politics; and (8) historical imagination and understanding, that is the ability to speculate and compare, alongside the possession of appropriate historical knowledge and the capacity to deploy it.
Reading ListLytton Stracheys Eminent Victorians is required, then a choice of 5 other books from the list below plus six others to be decided upon in consultation with the instructor: Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians Robert Blake, Disraeli Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin Judith M. Brown, Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya