HIS 384K • Britain, Capitalism, Modernity
This graduate seminar focuses on the relationship between the history of Britain from the late seventeenth century until today and the rise and development of modern capitalist society. While a variety of social scientists use Britain as a model case for their theories of modernization and social transformation, historians of Britain often insist on its peculiar and unique character. How does one square this circle? Through discussions and readings in historiography, historical sociology, and social theory, this seminar grapples with some of the major debates and issues surrounding the question of Britain and modernity. As the course is concerned with the adequacy of the concepts and the categories used by historians to grasp the nature of modern society, classic social science texts are examined in addition to major historical works.
This is a reading course and grades are based upon two in-class presentations (25%), participation and attendance (25%), and one interpretive essay (20-25pp.) (50%)
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism, with Capitalist Civilization T.H. Aston and C.H.E. Philpin, The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783 P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism, 1688-2000 J.C.D. Clark, English Society, 1660-1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics during the Ancien Regime E.P. Thompson, Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture Maxine Berg, The Age of Manufactures, 1700-1820 Eric J. Hobsbawn, Industry and Empire: From 1750 to the Present Day Harold Perkin, The Origins of Modern English Society W.D. Rubinstein, Capitalism, Culture and the Decline in Britain, 1750-1990