HIS 350L • History of Imperialism-W
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
This course will study a selection of key issues in the history of European expansion overseas, beginning with the mercantilist empires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and continuing through the era of 'free trade imperialism' that reached its high point in the so-called 'new imperialism' of the late nineteenth century. The themes to be considered include: the 'world system' of the period, the nature of mercantilism, revisionist views of the chartered companies, the controversy over the acquisition of India in the eighteenth century, the loss of the mainland colonies, the debate over the slave trade and abolition, the rise of free trade, the long-running argument about informal empire, and the nature of 'new' imperialism. Each one of these would make a course in itself. The precise list of topics and the degree of detail in which each can be studied will be determined partly by the need to secure a span of themes and partly by the interests of the students taking the course. Where possible, each topic will be approached through various 'master works' to ensure that students acquire a sense of the quality of original contributions to historical scholarship as well as a grasp of the substance of particular issues. The ultimate aim of the course is to assist students to understand why a classic work endures, despite endless and often powerful criticism, and hence to be able to trace the roots of much current thinking. What is new may be new for a fresh generation, but it may also have a long and unrecognized lineage in the past. In this way, students should be better able to distinguish between the riddle of the ages and the issue of the day. The course complements Course 350L offered in the spring semester (2003), but can be studied independently.
85% written (25 pages), 15% seminar contribution
Detailed reading will be provided when the class has met and the topics have been identified. Relevant studies containing full references to recent scholarship include: THE OXFORD HISTORY OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE (Vols.1 and 2, 1998, and 3 and 5, 1999), and P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, BRITISH IMPERIALISM, 1688-2000 (2001). Substantial Writing Component