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Unit information: Political Culture in Stuart England (Level I Special Field) in 2015/16

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Unit name Political Culture in Stuart England (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST20078
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Noah Millstone
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Seeing seventeenth-century Britain through early modern eyes means encountering a world marked by mob violence, treasonous conspiracies, and sexual corruption. This unit introduces students to the tumultuous underground of seventeenth century political culture, a nightmare world of plotting Jesuits, Irish rebels and hack pamphleteers. Students will learn to handle a larger source base for political history, considering not only the deeds of kings and great men and women but also printed and written pamphlets, songs, plays, paintings and ceremonies. We will try to learn from prosecutions, riots, drinking songs and rumours. We will explore how political actors used cultural production to advance their agendas, and how political culture in turn shaped their choices. We will also consider the origins, uses, and limitations of the concept of political culture itself. This unit will prepare students to conduct original research in early modern sources while undertaking the associated Special Field Project. Paleographical training will be provided in the project workshops to enable students to work on contemporary manuscript sources.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed

  1. a sophisticated understanding of the nature and development of British political culture during the Stuart period;
  2. a deep awareness of how early modern political culture can be investigated and assessed;
  3. the ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context;
  4. the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change;
  5. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points;
  6. the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion;
  7. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint;
  8. the acquisition of key writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar

Assessment Information

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

The examination will assess ILOs 1-8 by assessing the students’ understanding of the unit’s key themes, the related historiography as developed during their reading and participation in / learning from small group seminars, and relevant primary sources. Further assessment of their handling of the relevant primary sources will be provided by the co-requisite Special Field Project.

Reading and References

  • A. Bellany, The Politics of Court Scandal (2002)
  • T. Cogswell, The Blessed Revolution (2005)
  • M. Knights, Representation and Misrepresentation in Later Stuart Britain (2005)
  • P. Lake & S. Pincus, ed. The Politics of the Public Sphere in Early Modern England (2007)
  • J. Peacey, Politicians and Pamphleteers (2004)
  • K. Sharpe & P. Lake, ed. Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (1993)