Further Subject

Further Subjects continue the approach of the Optional Subjects in Prelims in being more defined subjects than outline papers. You may wish to take a subject ‘further’ to a period you have covered, so that you start from a basis of knowledge; but you do not have to do so. Looking forward, you may want to choose a subject near the field in which you wish to take your thesis (although the latter cannot be largely based on the same sources).

Further Subjects are focused around prescribed sources, on which (in most cases) the structure of the exam requires you to answer directly. You will need to analyse the texts and other kinds of source (such as images, archaeology, film and music) using the standard range of questions historians ask of their primary material – who? when? where? and above all for what purpose? And you will need to relate them to the scholarly literature and to understand their role in constructing historians’ current understanding of the subject. There are over thirty Further Subjects to choose from, ranging geographically across the globe, and conceptually from archaeology to political and social thought. They enable you to study subjects in which members of the Faculty are themselves actively engaged in research, and your choice may well arouse interests which you yourself wish to pursue subsequently.

The options listed below are illustrative and may be subject to change.

In the year 600, the peoples who came to be known as ‘the Anglo-Saxons’ were ethnically diverse, politically fragmented and largely pagan; by 750 they had emerged as one of the major cultures of postRoman Europe, with towns, a complex economy and a network of richly-endowed churches. The fusion of Germanic, Celtic and Mediterranean traditions produced a material culture of astonishing richness and originality, including such internationally famous works as the Sutton Hoo grave goods, the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses and the Lindisfarne Gospels. This is currently one of the liveliest areas of medieval history, as old discoveries are reassessed, and new ones (especially in the areas of economy and settlement) overturn accepted views. This course will afford students the exciting opportunity to trace the remarkable growth of English society and culture in response to external stimuli. This is the only paper in the Modern History School devoted to archaeology, and archaeology is defined in the widest sense, to include illuminated manuscripts, precious objects, coins, sculpture and buildings as well as sites and finds. Other Further Subjects are based on a selection of primary texts, which undergraduates study with the help of secondary works. With this subject the sites and artefacts themselves are ‘primary’, but to make them available in print inevitably involves a process of selection and interpretation; at the same time, ‘primary’ material (unavailable elsewhere) can be embedded in analytical and essentially secondary works. Thus the normal distinction between primary and secondary literature cannot be drawn so clearly, and the subject-matter covers a spectrum from the primary (e.g. photographs and excavation reports) to the secondary (e.g. interpretative books and articles). A series of specific sites, structures and objects are prescribed for detailed study (and discussion in ‘Part A’ questions), but the bibliography also contains a range of other ‘primary’ material which illuminates the wider context, and which is revised from year to year as new discoveries are made. Mastering the art of using physical evidence, and of reading and criticising excavation reports, involves some initial intellectual effort but is highly rewarding. A selection of (very brief) extracts from contemporary written sources (amounting to some 5000 words) has also been set. 

The Byzantine Further Subject provides the only opportunity for historians to study in depth the dramatic transformation of the Near East at the end of the classical period. The scope of the subject is vast, encompassing as it does eight cultures and two seismic events. The twin civilized powers of classical antiquity, the Roman and Persian Empires, were both destroyed in the period, under the violent pressure of the Arab conquests and the massive influx of Slavs into the Balkans. These two old and two new cultures stand at the heart of the subject, but four other cultures are illuminated by the prescribed texts – the Coptic society of late Roman Egypt, the Syrian world of the Fertile Crescent, the fragmented society of Armenia, and the great nomad powers of the Eurasian steppes. 

Candidates are not expected to accumulate knowledge about every facet of these eight cultures. The prescribed texts focus attention on four major themes: (i) the social and cultural history of the rich eastern provinces of the Roman Empire – Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt – in the reign of Justinian, and, in particular, the half-articulated thought-world of monks and holy men and the strident, sophisticated theological arguments of the higher clergy; (ii) Roman-Persian relations; (iii) the nomad invasions and Slav colonization of the Balkan provinces of Rome; (iv) the rise of Islam and the Arab conquests. For many takers this last theme has proved particularly absorbing, as the prescribed texts, together with the Koran, enable the historian to trace the growth of Muslim power from the first halting words of the Prophet to Islam’s conquest of the Near East.

‘Carolingian Renaissance’ is a term of convenience used to describe the cultural, intellectual and religious awakening of Western Europe in the eighth century which in due course found its natural centre in the court school of Charlemagne and thence returned, in the ninth century and under fresh stimulus, to the churches and monasteries equipped to realize its implications. It thus gathers up what of Antiquity and Patristic learning had been preserved and hands it on, transmuted, to become the basis of European thinking about the aims of society until comparatively recent times. Its range is so great, and its implications so vast, that no set of prescribed texts could in practice cover it. The texts that have been chosen (all in English or French translation) illustrate some of its principal themes and some of the ways in which those themes were modified in the course of a century’s experiment. Firstly dealing with the directing force of Charlemagne and his advisers and, thereafter, of the widely differing interpretations placed on the royal programme by bishops, monks and others left to their own devices. The texts include a generous selection of the revealing correspondence of two scholars at the centre of affairs, Alcuin and Lupus of Ferrières; biography and narrative material; an educational manual; several Carolingian capitularies (the programmatic foundation of the Renaissance); some charters; a little theology and liturgical material; and a selection of poetry. Special attention is paid to the artistic and architectural aspects of the Renaissance. 

The Crusades were a central phenomenon of the High Middle Ages. The product of a western aristocratic society suffused by a martial culture and a militant religion, they reveal aspects of social relations, popular spirituality, techniques of waging war and attitudes to violence. They retain interest for a modern world to which Holy War and ideological justification of violence are no strangers. The aim of the Further Subject is twofold: (i) a full exploration of the dramatic events of the campaigns in the Near East, covering the experience as well as the motivations of crusaders and settlers; and (ii) an investigation of the interaction over a period of two centuries between western Christians and the indigenous populations, both Christian and Islamic, in and around the states and settlements established in the East. The subject embraces spectacular events and vivid personalities, including Saladin, one of the few Muslims to gain a reputation in medieval Europe, but the set texts also enable students to study broader themes: ideologies (Christian Holy War and Islamic Jihad), institutions (the ‘feudal’ structure of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem or the Military Orders), military history (castles, siege warfare) as well as social and cultural encounters at this meeting point of the Mediterranean civilizations of the Middle Ages: Greek, Arabic, Jewish and Latin. In recent years the Crusades have attracted a wealth of new research and debate. Students thus have access to a rich and accessible secondary material against which to establish their own views. The texts, translated from Arabic and Greek as well as Latin and medieval French, are kept to a manageable size and provide opportunities for critical comparison of different contemporary view-points of the same events or issues. There is no foreign language requirement for this course. It remains one of the most popular options of the History Finals School. 

This subject engages with Italian society in a period of extraordinary flux and creativity. As the citycommunes came to the end of their period of dominance in Italian politics, several amongst them – including Florence, Siena and Padua, studied here – produced the most elaborate manifestations of civic pride and republican identity. These took the form not simply of governmental and financial institutions, but of newly created piazzas and town halls, statues and frescoes, church building and the elaboration of civic ceremony. In addition, the writing of history and of political and religious polemic contributed to current debate about the character and purpose of life in the cities – a debate which was conducted against a background of conflict and often extreme violence. All of these aspects of urban culture are represented amongst the various texts and images prescribed for the course.

Linking many of these themes is the career and work of Dante, whose Comedy is both an extraordinary creative achievement and a sustained critique of contemporary society. The psychological realism introduced into literature by Dante’s vast panorama finds a miniature successor in Petrarch’s The Secret, the witty self-analysis of a Christian man of classical letters. The transformation of the visual arts which also occurred at this time is represented by Giotto, Duccio and their contemporaries, whose painting and sculpture is examined both with respect to its style and technique, and in relation to its patrons, setting and audience. 

The textual sources are prescribed in translation. A rich secondary literature exists in English.

This subject offers candidates the possibility of studying and comparing themes in cultural history which are often considered apart. Its aim is to examine aspects of the civilizations of both the ‘Gothic’ North and ‘Renaissance’ South in fifteenth-century Europe. In the North, the Low Countries witnessed the emergence of an art of remarkable naturalism (represented by Jan van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden and Hans Memling). Meanwhile, the Italian peninsula saw the development of a more idealized vision of the world, beginning with the works of Masaccio and drawing increasingly on Greek and Roman antiquity for both subject-matter and inspiration. Beside these apparently divergent tendencies, some common ground existed between the two cultures: urban life, the rise of princely courts and households, mercantile and financial contacts, and important movements in devotional religion. One purpose of the subject is therefore to examine the relationship between the visual art of these regions and the societies from which it emerged.  

The prescribed texts and documents introduce the student to the theoretical literature of the arts as well as to the study of patronage and purchase: humanist treatises, contracts, inventories and correspondence between patrons and artists. Devotional trends are illustrated by saints’ lives and by texts emanating from the devotio moderna of the age. Intermediaries between North and South such as diplomatic envoys, the agents of the Medici bank and foreign observers are also represented. A selection of photographs of works of art, chosen to illustrate both differences and affinities, forms an important part of the source material. By studying visual and documentary evidence together, a reappraisal of the comparisons and contrasts between Netherlandish and Italian culture can be undertaken. In the process, material from cities other than Florence (e.g. Milan, Ferrara, Mantua and Urbino) is studied and the role of princes as patrons emphasized. 

The prescribed texts (with one exception) are available in English translation and in practice no foreign language is required for the course.

The Wars of the Roses were a prolonged period of political disorder and conflict in fifteenth-century England, stemming from the disastrous reign of Henry VI and issuing forth in a series of popular uprisings, magnate rebellions, battles, skirmishes and usurpations of the throne. They took place in a polity with strong central institutions and powerful civic values – and they were, in this sense, civil wars, fought by lords and commons alike over the demand for good government and the need to restore authority. Yet because this polity was also founded on structures of lordship, deriving from the ownership of land and perpetuated by habits of deference, chivalry and personal authority, the Wars were also conflicts between families and friends, and were equally concerned with property, territory and local power. What lay behind the assertive behaviour of such ‘over mighty subjects’ as Richard of York and Warwick the Kingmaker? What led to the usurpations of Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII, and why did only two of them succeed? How did politicians, thinkers and ordinary people respond to the experience of civil war? How much impact did the limited fighting – estimated at only 13 weeks of actual campaigning – really have? And how was this fighting managed? The English were used to sending small semi-professional armies to France: how did they raise troops and conduct campaigns when the enemy was other Englishmen, and the aim not conquest, but political advantage? As far as government is concerned, many historians have argued for a strengthening of royal power during the 1470s, 80s and 90s, but it remains unclear what caused this strengthening, or how it fits with the many challenges and set-backs experienced by the kings of these decades. 

To these interpretative questions, the sources add a further layer of interest and complexity. The government records of the time are often very bland, masking conflict and precarious authority behind the measured language of bureaucrats. Gentry correspondences, such as the Paston Letters, contain rumours, newsletters and even eyewitness accounts, but they are far from neutral and not always as well-informed as they appear. Then there are the highly coloured narratives of contemporary politicians and commentators: not only are the biases of these accounts difficult to read, they also involve a further complication – the first substantial reception into English political discourse of Renaissance terminologies and motifs, as the Englishmen of this period compared their politics to those of the decaying Roman republic. And there are other materials requiring even greater ingenuity to read – prophecies, buildings, works of art, and the recently-discovered burial pit at Towton. What J. R. Lander called ‘the dark glass of the fifteenth century’ can be approached from many directions, and discovering how to see through it is one of the great challenges of the period. 

So it is that although the Wars of the Roses have attracted a great deal of research and provide the focus for extremely lively (not to say combative) historical debate, there is no overall agreed characterisation of the conflict; lots of questions, both large and small, remain open; and there remains a lot for students to get their teeth into. Oxford, finally, is a good place to study the Wars of the Roses. This University is home to a very distinguished tradition of fifteenth-century history, library collections are strong in this area, and a number of historians in today’s faculty continue to research and publish on the period. 

The period for study, a golden one in English literary achievement, was one in which major poets and dramatists were involved in or preoccupied with political events. The Further Subject invites candidates to explore the relationship between literary developments and political ones. The following authors have been selected for study: More, Skelton, Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare (for whom the set texts are taken from his English and Roman history plays), Bacon, Jonson, Middleton, Massinger, Milton, Marvell. Candidates are encouraged to consider the lives and influences, as well as the writings, of these men, and to relate the writings to their historical contexts. They are also encouraged to read more widely in the literature of the period and to consider the historical changes which the literature of the period illuminates or reflects. Among the themes of the subject are: the Court; humanism; nobility, honour and service; biography; literature and the nation; the relationship between Christian and classical values; early Stuart monarchy and the masque; the development of the history play; the relationship of the drama to politics and to Puritanism; the responses of writers to the Puritan Revolution. 


Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, Portugal and Spain had established world empires encompassing lands from Africa to America and Asia. During the following century, the multiple connections they made among many different places fostered unparalleled transformations in culture and society around the globe, yet these were far from levelling out the variety of local conditions. This Further Subject allows students to explore such a multifaceted process through primary sources running from travel and missionary accounts to chronicles, judicial records, paintings and art objects. The paper focuses on a range of topics, including the mutual attraction of the Iberian empires and the degree of their political integration during the union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain under the Habsburg dynasty (1580-1640), their reaction to the simultaneous challenge posed by new maritimepowers from Northern Europe, long-distance mobility of individuals and groups, cultural and religious encounters, the spread of informal communities on the fringes of empires and the rise of mestizo societies within them, the emergence of creole elites and indigenous agency before the Iberian rule, the global proliferation of the slave trade and processes of racialisation, and the overall effect on cultural production and models of consumption.

Over the last fifteen years or so, scholars have increasingly recognised the importance of the global connections that the Iberian exploration established across the early modern world. This new understanding cannot be reduced to the more conventional history of empires or long-distance economic exchanges. Rather it emphasises the cross-cultural interactions shaping the new composite societies that emerged within and on the fringes of the Portuguese and Spanish empires over the course of time, and it will pay special attention to traditionally marginalised actors. Across Africa to America and Asia, the study of the multiple outcomes resulting from characteristic which, at least to the mid-seventeenth century, were common to both Portuguese and Spanish societies is proving to be one of the most productive fields in early modern global history. Combining the big picture with the local level of detail, this Further Subject is meant to enable students to come into contact with the exciting dynamics that marked the Iberian global century.

This  paper  explores  the  complex  intersections  between  ideas  about  gender  and  religion  in early  modern  England  though  a  range  of  primary  sources,  including  sermons,  pamphlets, plays, and petitions, written usually by men but sometimes by women.  During a century of religious change, in which Catholicism gave way to a competing plethora of protestantisms, conventional notions of gender roles became destabilised and took new forms.  Ideas about spiritual  equality  between  the  sexes  and  the  sanctity  of  individual  conscience  (whether female  or  male)  existed  in  tension  with  the  patriarchal  values  of  the  new  religion  and gendered ideals of godliness which seemed to place men and women firmly in their respective places. The rise of print and the impacts of national politics on individual lives and communities encouraged some women to intervene in debates traditionally associated with men  and  masculinity,  while  both  men  and  women  during  the  civil  wars experimented  with radical religious forms which challenged patriarchal structures and assumptions. This paper examines not only theoretical debates and prescriptive literature, but also the messy realities of daily life, for instance by looking at court records of marital desertion and abuse. 

Female authors and that ways in which they accepted or challenged patriarchy will play an important  role  in  this  paper.    However,  the  study  of  gender  goes  beyond  the  traditional male/female binary.  Gender can also be thought about in relation to the body – how it was scrutinised,  placed  within  a  gendered  order,  and  analogised  with  idealised  political  and religious  hierarchies;  and  how  disorderly  bodies  were related to the workings of the  Devil. The theme of gender can likewise be explored through the lens of the emotions, as puritan spirituality emphasised both the need for moderation and self-control while at the same time inculcating in believers emotional states which could oscillate between elation and despair.  Feminine  emotionality  could  be  criticised  in  some  contexts,  but  was  treated  as  a  sign  of salvation  in  others; and even held up as a standard for men  to emulate. Students will be encouraged to think not only about the ways in which processes of religious change affected gendered identities and agency, but also how the study of gender can deepen our understanding of early modern Protestantism itself.

The advent of the electronic age has encouraged historians to reflect critically on the communication and information technologies of past centuries. The early modern period is known as the age of the previous media revolution, when the rise of the print industry led to the dissemination of texts on an unprecedented scale, playing an important role in other major upheavals, such as the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. Yet as we are learning today, media revolutions are never a simple transformation from one medium to another. In the same way, script remained crucial during the centuries that followed Gutenberg’s invention. Even in the fields or spheres of activity most associated with the new technology, such as literature, script continued to exist alongside print, complementing rather than relegated to the sidelines. In many others, and especially in the practical undertakings of everyday life, it never ceased to be the major non-oral medium for early modern communication and information.

This paper explores the materials, forms, and purposes of script between 1550 and 1750 to reconstruct the experience of writing in the early modern period, focusing on Western Europe but also following the Roman script to the New World and the flow of information between West and East. Writing has always been a manual labour, and especially so in the age of the quill pen and of home-made ink. We will thus examine the materials, implements, and surfaces of script and how they shaped its outputs. Who had access to the technology of writing in the early modern period? We will interrogate the practices of ordinary writers as well as professional practitioners such as scribes and notaries. We will study a variety of forms, from the sophisticated tools of the learned, through correspondence and other instruments of everyday life, to political documents. Finally, we will look at the afterlife of writings, in the practices of record-keeping and archiving, in order to understand how contemporaries dealt with the first crisis of information overload.

The paper thus introduces students to cutting-edge scholarship and to a wide variety of primary sources. It draws on the richness of resources at Oxford, from pre-modern archives to 21st-century digital projects. In keeping with the emphasis on the materiality of writing, students will work as far as possible with original documents, aided, where necessary, by digital reproductions, transcriptions, and translations. This will put them in an ideal position to tackle manuscript documents for the Undergraduate Thesis.  

This course is intended for students who wish to combine an interest in the structures of courts and court culture with an introduction to some of the major issues and methodological challenges involved in studying the history of art in a courtly context. The study of courts as the focus of political, social and cultural authority within the Early Modern state has been a dynamic and exciting area of historical enquiry in the last few decades. No less important has been the impact of both art historical and historical scholarship in exploring the practical mechanisms of art patronage, the use of art by rulers and other elites to construct justifications for the legitimization of authority, and the respective role of artists, patrons and scholars in the formulation of ideological programmes within a court context. The course will seek to bring these two areas together by focusing on a number of specific courts and on wider issues connected with court patronage of the arts, the resources and aims of patrons, and the reactions of both courtly and non-courtly elites to these initiatives. An introductory class will examine some of the historiographical and methodological problems involved in studying courts and in coming to grips with what will be for some students the unfamiliar context of art historical scholarship. Subsequent classes will look at a range of European courts including the papal court in Rome, the English court from the reign of Elizabeth I through the Stuarts, the Habsburg court in Brussels, and Louis XIV’s Versailles, while additional topics will include the role of female patrons, the place of collecting in court patronage, and courts’ use of theatrical and musical performances, as well as entries.

The prescribed texts and documents will introduce students to the details of art commissions, inventories of collections, and correspondence between and amongst artists and elite patrons. Contemporary writings about artists give insights into issues such as factional rivalries, political or familial strategies, perceptions of artistic merit, and the status of artists in court culture. There are no prescribed images for this course, although students will be encouraged to analyse particular works of art as case studies in understanding the workings of patronage, the politics of display, and the operations of court ritual and etiquette. Classes and tutorials will be taught by a team of History and History of Art tutors. 


The Further Subject offers students the opportunity to explore, within a comparative context, the relationship between war and society from the end of the Thirty Years War to the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. This century and a half was marked by almost constant European conflict, fought across the globe and drawing on, and affecting the lives of, an ever-increasing number of people. The era also saw significant developments in the ways war was practised, organised, financed, and justified. A key aim of the course is to suggest ways in which military history can be embedded within the wider framework of political, social, and cultural history, as well as within the context of the history of medicine and gender studies.

We will begin with the lively historiographical debate over the ‘military revolution’, grappling with the role of the changing nature of warfare in the genesis of the modern state. The course will provide an opportunity to examine how states sourced and resourced military manpower. We will also consider private entrepreneurship, privateering, irregular warfare, the representation of the military in art and literature, the impact of disease on the waging of war, and the position of soldiers, sailors, veterans and prisoners of war within civil society. More generally, readings will investigate the extent to which different political systems shaped military cultures and priorities, and will think about the ways in which service and combat were experienced by military personnel. This period saw the development of the Prussian model of an Enlightenment army, the evolution of revolutionary ideas about the French nation in arms, and the global ascendency of British imperial force. We will evaluate the nature of these transformations. Readings include primary sources detailing legal and philosophical theories of war, alongside journals, letters, memoirs, and political correspondence recording the experience of warfare on land and sea. Students will be encouraged to study the collections of the National Army Museum and the National Maritime Museum (both in London) and visit Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. A reading knowledge of French or German is not required - the French and German source material will be provided in translation.


"Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life: for there is in London all that life can afford". Imbued with the spirit of Samuel Johnson's famous dictum, this course analyses eighteenth-century London's profound influence as an agent of change across a broad range of themes - social, economic, political, and cultural. As capital city, London has always played a significant role in national developments, but many historians have seen its impact in this era at its most fundamental, ushering in many of the recognizable features of modernity. A variety of vibrant and stimulating texts have been chosen to stimulate student thinking on London's influence on great transformations such as the rise of the public sphere, the dawn of empire and the birth of the financial City, which sources give voice to both the excitement and the concerns resulting from the capital's growth.

The course is structured to enable close study of important developments within the capital. The eight classes will be structured along topographical lines to focus attention on key sites of change, taking a tour through the polite West End 'town', the courtly and parliamentary world of Westminster, the commercial-finance district of Exchange Alley; the burgeoning press of Fleet Street; the East End centres of manufacture and shipping; and the new suburban areas. The six tutorials would complement the classes by studying London's growth in more thematic terms, embracing such topics as social change, political culture, economic organisation, religious pluralism, and the imperial metropole. When combined, these approaches would enable students to gain a comprehensive overview of metropolitan change, and to locate it within broader contexts of urban and national development. 

This course will take advantage of an exciting and growing historiography of recent years, but it has been purposely designed to provide plenty of research opportunities for students thinking of any topic concerning eighteenth-century Britain. The texts will enable students to engage with a wide range of sources (maps, literary works, histories, statistical series, diaries, travellers’ accounts, cartoons), and it is hoped that it will inspire many undergraduate dissertations in its wake. 

This course examines the development of Britain’s empire through a focus on bodies, environments,  and  disease.    It  links  intellectual  theories  –  whether  of  political  or  medical authority – to the physical experience of Britain and its colonies, and analyses how theories of  racial  identity  and  difference  were  shaped  in  new  environmental  and  medical  contexts, particularly  the  colonial  tropics.    The  course  traces cultural  and  social  practices  of  British health and medicine as factors in Britain’s imperial growth and its increasingly global wars.   

Foreign and tropical environments such as India and the Caribbean presented challenges  as  well  as  opportunities  for  ambitious,  outspoken,  reforming,  enterprising,  and sometimes unscrupulous individuals.  At the same time, an urbanizing, commercializing and increasingly globalized Britain tested notions of masculinity and of Britishness itself.  Readings are therefore drawn from a range of writers who argue over ideas of luxury, degeneration, and how to secure the health of populations (in Britain, its armed forces, and in its colonies).  These readings thus also deal with fundamental conceptual issues such as racial difference, the roots of poverty, modern medical and political authority, and the relationship between domestic and foreign environments.  

An underlying theme of the course is modern forms of expertise – that is, who holds reliable  knowledge  about  bodies  and  about  foreign  and  exotic  environments,  and,  indeed how  concepts  such  as  the  foreign and  the  exotic  were  developed  and  argued.    Modern medicine  can be  seen  as  a  historical process  in which  traditional  authorities  – patients  and traditional medical authorities (both  female and  male,  British and  colonial indigenous practitioners)  –  were  de-skilled  of  their  bodily  expertise  in  favour  of  the  rise  of  modern, scientific medicine.  Alongside, the issue of ‘medicalization’ –  of  the  powerful  authority  of 
medical  ideas  in  society  as  a  whole  –  is  examined  in  historical  context. No technical or specialist background is assumed.


This course is organised around seven thematic bodies of literature that contribute to a wide array of perspectives on madness and mental healing from the ancient to the modern, and across the globe. The diversity of the materials presented will allow us to engage with a variety of expressions of ‘madness’ as well as the ways in which mental illness has been politicised, resisted, embraced, or dramatised. As each week’s materials offer a new set of challenges, we will also consider a range of methodologies, ethics, and positionalities. The first two classes begin with an introduction to medieval and early modern texts in translation, allowing for a foundational discussion of the broadest religious, mystical and melancholic interpretations of the human condition. The course, while not a strictly chronological narrative, moves to the modern history of psychiatry and related fields. Moving beyond a history of asylumdom, we work through an increasingly medicalised approach to mental illness while interrogating power relations inherent in colonial occupations, and dynamics of race, gender and culture. The final classes engage with well-developed areas in the historiography of mental illness and treatment. We will work with visual sources from photography and artistic expressions, as well as a contemplation of the impact of the physical environment of hospitals and museums. The final two classes engage with the significant resistance to the psychiatric profession prompted by the anti-psychiatry movement and conclude with a discussion of the ways historians have attempted to uncover the voice of the psychiatric patient through a series of patient memoirs.



The process, interests and ideology in play during the founding and early existence of the United States of America are unusually well-documented. In fact they are so well documented as to have given rise to the ‘exceptionalist’ narrative encapsulated in the title of Seymour Martin Lipset’s seminal work The First New Nation. That narrative continues to be sustained in the belief that recent American political discourse is exceptionally, by western standards, debased. This Further explores a question with resonances today: how did the practice of politics become violently partisan during an age, and among political classes, that anathematized partisanship and idealised disinterest? The Further aims to present its material in such a way as to allow the student to place this American founding moment in preliminary dialogue with other national histories.

This Further leads students through the landscape of government prior to the ratification of the Federal Convention. It examines in detail the interests that were accommodated in the constitutional settlement. It explores and contextualises the debate between Federalist and Anti-Federalist writers and it examines continuing foundational debates in the political crises witnessed during the first three presidential administrations. More specifically the set texts afford an opportunity to study issues relating to the three branches of government – executive, congressional and judiciary – as well as to the public at large – that is the world’s first electorate.


The tumultuous events of the last decade of the twentieth century and the first years of this century have shown vividly the enduring power and influence of nationalism on the states and peoples of Europe. This Further Subject sets out to explore a central aspect of modern European history, and to introduce students to some of the genuinely seminal texts in the canon of contemporary political and social thought. Few political ideologies have exercised so long or so consistent an influence over the lives of contemporary Europeans as nationalism, making the search for its intellectual foundations - and the incongruities it spawned - all the more vital for an understanding of modern history, and of the European condition. The course traces the concept of nationalism to its modern origins and studies its evolution over the nineteenth century. This was the crucial period when nationalism entered the mainstream of European politics and came to dominate the political agenda of the continent, as witnessed by the political unifications of Italy and Germany. 

This is not a straightforward political history of the nineteenth century. Rather, its purpose is to trace the evolution of an ideology, primarily through the founder-texts of its most influential exponents in Italy, Germany and France, those parts of Europe where nationalism is now most readily identified with both state and people. The set texts include the seminal works of Hegel, Mazzini, Renan, Treitschke, Michelet, Fichte and Gioberti. Their visions will be tested against their opponents, Marx and the Catholic Church among them. A continuing theme of the course is the shift of nationalist ideology from being the child of the revolutionary Left – culminating in the 1848 Revolutions – towards its identification with the Right and the forces of state authority by the end of the period. The thoughts of nationalist writers on the roles of religion, gender, the nature of the state, and the place of the past in shaping cultural identities will all be studied in depth. Crucially, we will explore the role of history and memory in the construction of nationhood – not just through the stirring narratives of seminal historians like Michelet and Treitschke, but also through iconic paintings depicting events from both the recent and more distant past. The music of Strauss and Verdi highlights the role of culture in national and political argument at this time.  

This complex reality will be set alongside the ideas of the leading, contemporary theorists of nationalism as a political ideology, including Benedict Anderson, John Breuilly, Ernest Gellner and Anthony D. Smith. In this way, it is hoped to reveal the richness, potency and complexity of the concept of nationalism in the era of its definition, and to test current thinking against its founder-texts. Tutorials will provide the essential background, and no previous knowledge of the period is required. All texts are in English translation. 

This subject aims to study the ideas and culture of the Victorians with some reference to their analytical content and social context. The topics covered range from progress and faith, through natural and social science, to fine art and gender. There are many common themes running through the texts, such as the tension between materialism and idealism, and between historical and positivist modes of thought. The set texts are grouped under headings which suggest the major issues to be explored. 

  • Historical writings introduce the concept of ‘Whig’ history and the interaction between religious beliefs and the claims made for the value of the study of the past.
  • Social and economic thought examines the attempt to advance beyond the apparently wellestablished principles of political economy towards a ‘general science of society’ or sociology.
  • The religious texts embrace the spectrum from Catholicism and natural religion to agnosticism and secularism. 
  • The section on art and society assesses the enormous influence of ‘cultural critics’, Carlyle, Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, and William Morris, whose perspectives were distinct from those of churchmen and sociologists. We are particularly fortunate in having a grand Ruskinian project – the University Museum – in Parks Road, and Ruskin’s own collection of drawings and watercolours, used in his teaching, in the Ashmolean Museum.
  • Education is important in raising directly the question of the role of women in Victorian culture, and shows how many of the intellectual developments of the period were reflected in the reform of the universities and public schools, and in the professionalization of study.
  • The scientific texts focus on Darwin and the impact of evolutionary thinking. Finally, prospective graduate st

Starting with the second half of the Eighteenth Century, power relationships between peoples on earth, the growing and dramatic division between dominant nations and nations that were dominated, or even eliminated, and indeed the foundations of social inequalities, were increasingly seen by Western naturalists and intellectuals as inevitable features of the order of nature. Racial weakness was regarded as inscribed in the shape of human skulls, individual deficiencies in the traits of human faces. The attempt to ground political and social phenomena on the authority of nature preceded the advent of Darwinism in the 1860s. It could indeed be claimed that the immediate and chaotic spread of Social Darwinism within the Western world simply reflected the widespread presence of attitudes and beliefs for which Charles Darwin, often unwittingly, appeared to provide authoritative scientific evidence. Darwin himself, in the last analysis, shared many of the presuppositions of his self-appointed and at times extreme followers, and predicted that many peoples on earth would disappear as the inevitable, regrettable consequence of natural laws regulating the relationships between biological populations. Yet, the “natural” triumph of the “civilizing” imperial western powers was not granted. 

Once again, the struggle for life and natural selection had to be called upon to express anxieties about the stability of the social order. The mounting aggressiveness of the “dangerous classes” and the fertility of the lower orders were jeopardizing the efforts of the “natural” elites that were responsible for civilization and imperial advances. The superior races had to exercise control over the less endowed ones, in the same way as the social elites had to carefully monitor demographic and political transformations that in the long term would endanger the survival of the race itself. Chronic illnesses, moral insensitivity, atavist aggressiveness had to be curbed through a rigid control of immigration and reproduction. Racial anthropology found its parallel in criminal anthropology and criminology. Crime was seen as a natural phenomenon for which, often, there was no cure. Individuals as well as crowds often showed the survival of traits that characterized previous stages in the development of society, or in the natural history of man. “Beastly behaviours” and “savage crimes” became expressions that summed up a widespread climate of opinion. The survival of nations depended on their capacity to steer the reproductive flow and to isolate and possibly eliminate the danger that lethal traits would further spread throughout society. 

To some legislative bodies, such as the State of Indiana in 1907 and 1927, forced sterilisation appeared as a benign solution capable of stopping the spread of dangerous individual traits. To National Socialist political and scientific leaders in Germany, sterilization had to be accompanied by stronger measures, such as forced isolation and straightforward physical elimination. A strong State had to take strong measures to survive and to lead. Has the tragic lesson of negative eugenics during the 1930s and the early 1940s been learnt? A final lecture will be devoted to the periodic resurgence of attitudes appealing to the authority of nature and of science to explain complex social and historical phenomena. Is intelligence hereditary, geographically and socially distributed, and can “science” prescribe social norms and suggest political measures?  

This course will introduce students to the modern history of the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on the social and political history of the Arab world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. No prior knowledge of Arab or Islamic history is required and all texts will be in English. A recurrent focus of tension and conflict, and of often highly polemical political commentary, THE Middle East present both an important and distinctive historical experience in its own right, and an opportunity for students to engage with major global themes of rapid and uneven economic and social change, the long-term impact of imperialism and nationalism, and the difficulties of adequately explaining ‘modernisation’ and its effects in a major part of the ‘global South’. The central themes of the region’s internal development in relation to pressures from outside forces will be examined through primary sources illustrating diplomatic, social, political and cultural aspects of Arab history in this period. From the occupation of Algiers in 1830 through the partition of the Ottoman empire in 1919, the Arab world struggled to come to terms with its changing position in a new imperial world order; the struggle to establish state sovereignty and national self-determination would prove no easier in the twentieth century. 

Throughout this period, however, the course emphasises how Arab men and women, far from becoming merely ‘victims of history’, adapted to changing circumstances and articulated their aspirations. The region will be approached from its ‘peripheries’ in the Gulf and North Africa, beginning with the changing commercial and political relations between British India and the coasts of the Arabian peninsula, and between the states of the Maghrib and southern Europe, in the mid-nineteenth century, and concluding with the independence of the Gulf states in 1971. Along the way, we shall consider the internal transformation and eventual breakup of the Ottoman empire, the intense European colonisation of North Africa and its more ‘indirect’ imperialism elsewhere, the emergence and ambiguities of Arab nationalism, the struggle over Israel and Palestine, and the ‘end of an era’ marked on one hand by Suez and the Algerian revolution, on the by the death of Nasser and the ‘Black September’ expulsion of the PLO from Jordan. 


The purpose of this paper is to explore the extraordinary changes – as well as the core continuities – experienced by Africans over the last two hundred years. Focusing primarily on sub-Saharan Africa, it aims to challenge some of the enduring misconceptions and stereotypes about Africa’s history, and foregrounds African agency and experience in the continent’s political, economic and social development since the early nineteenth century. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented regions in the modern world, its recent history often characterised as a catalogue of man-made and natural disaster, conflict, disorder and abject human misery. Certainly, its nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been defined by conquest and subjugation at the hands of foreign invaders, the struggle for political and economic freedom and equity, and, in more recent times, the quest for stability and development. Yet the modern history of sub-Saharan Africa is also one of human resilience and resistance, creative and innovative strategies of survival and adaptation, and courageous confrontation of seemingly insuperable challenges. This module will explore all of this in depth. The last two hundred years have seen some of the most dramatic change in sub-Saharan Africa’s long history, and the paper will trace such change through the transformative nineteenth century through to the partition of the continent and the imposition of colonial rule, through the colonial experience and processes of national liberation, to the present day problems of political instability and economic underdevelopment. African initiatives and responses, as well as changing European colonial policy and attitudes toward Africa, will be at the heart of the analysis, and the paper seeks throughout to understand the deeper roots of the challenges now confronting Africa.


An opportunity is offered in this subject to study the modern history of Japan. The prescribed texts are available in English or English translation and no knowledge of Japanese or previous study of Japanese history is expected. 

The course covers Japanese intellectual, cultural, social and political developments in wider world context from the late Tokugawa period to the post-Asia Pacific War period. Students will examine different types of sources for historical interpretation such as anime, children’s stories, woodblock prints, philosophy texts, literature, government documents, and private diaries. Within modest limits, candidates are free to pursue any interests they may have along particular lines of enquiry: e.g. the origins and nature of revolution; the changing status of women; the vernacular language movement; everyday practices of ordinary citizens in cities and rural areas; relations between human and animals or the natural environment; the impact of the two world wars: the Russo-Japanese War and the AsiaPacific War; the rise of anarchism and Marxism; religion and modernity; sex and the city, and so on. Lectures and classes are offered in Hilary term each year at the Oxford University Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies. In the examination, candidates will be required to answer at least one question relating to the prescribed texts. 


This subject explores events and ideas in Ireland from the Home Rule era to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, stressing themes and rhetoric as much as narrative. Topics covered include the Fenian tradition (separatist ideology, republican rhetoric, emigre nationalism); the idea of Home Rule (Isaac Butt, federalism, Protestants and nationality); the land issue; the Home Rule crisis of the 1880s; the polarization of Ulster Unionism and Catholic nationalism from that era; cultural revivalism and the debates over ‘Irishness’ from the 1890s; the development of radical political options such as Sinn Fein, suffragism and co-operativism in the early 1900s; the pre-war crisis over Ulster and Home Rule; the 1916 Rising, the transformation of nationalist politics, and the rearrangement of Anglo-Irish relations. A detailed knowledge of Irish history will not necessarily be assumed, but an accompanying lecture series will cover the ground in a general way. This is intended to allow those studying the Further Subject to concentrate on some less conventional aspects of the period, such as the place of religion in Irish social life, the rhetoric of historical justification in Irish nationalism, the development of radical feminism and its interaction with nationalist politics, the language revival, journalistic controversies, the evolution of an Ulster identity, and the place of creative literature in creating nationalist imagery. W.B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, Douglas Hyde and George Moore are as central as Charles Stewart Parnell, Edward Carson, Constance Markiewicz and Eamon de Valera. Thus the set texts and suggested additional sources include pamphlets, newspapers, memoirs, polemic, poetry, and fiction as well as more conventional sources.


At the end of 1914, most of the nations of Europe were locked in to a brutal struggle which tested their endurance to the utmost. In 1917 the United States entered the war and Russia collapsed into revolution. Both events raised new and utopian visions which profoundly influenced all of the combatants. Finally, in 1918, German representatives crossed the Allied lines and sued for an Armistice. Why did Germany lose the war? Were other outcomes possible? Early allied success? German victory? Compromise peace?Popular revolution throughout Europe?

The First World War was a cultural trauma, which in certain respects is perceived as being ‘outside’ history, a massive human tragedy which defies normal explanation. Yet it is a good test case for thinking about decision making, the constraints on and the possibilities open to politicians and generals. This Further Subject is intended to reflect ‘total war’ with a ‘totalistic’ approach to historiography, one which examines and relates the spheres of political, military, economic and social history.

The focus of the paper will be on the great battles. Were the battles the futile slaughter of popular myth or the very essence of industrial war? Was Verdun ‘a meaningless battle in a meaningless war’ or a true turning point in the twentieth century? Was Douglas Haig an incompetent butcher or one of the greatest generals in British History? Was the war in other theatres fundamentally different to that in the West? The paper will examine the writings of the military and political decision makers, often written as conscious apologias for their actions. It will also examine their contemporary critics. In addition, it will examine the writings of the subjects of these actions, the ordinary soldiers and civilians who had to live with the consequences. It will seek to examine the relationship between the two, how far did the decision makers have to act with the consent of their ‘victims’?


This course introduces the history of modern China since circa 1900. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is necessary and all the texts are in English. The first half of the course looks at the politics, society, and culture of China during a period when the country experienced a constant battering by war, foreign imperialism, and economic and social crises. As China became a republic after the 1911 Revolution, nationalism and anti-imperialism emerged as strong forces, and the Communist Party, which would eventually rule over a quarter of humanity, began its rise to power. The early twentieth century also saw the emergence of a mass popular culture (novels, films, cartoons), the growth of the modern city, changes in the position of women, and not least, the massive upheavals of the 1937-45 war against Japan, the legacies of which continue down to the present. We then consider the cultural materials—domestic and foreign—used to build new political and social orders following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Topics include the impacts of war, family life, the abolition of market culture, agricultural collectivization, the Cultural Revolution, and the reintegration of China into global markets and cultures following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the initiation of market reforms by Deng Xiaoping. Lectures, classes, and tutorials are combined to give a thorough grounding in the issues that have shaped this important and influential nation. Students will be encouraged to develop particular interests with further reading. In the examination, candidates will be required to answer at least one question in relation to the prescribed texts

This Further Subject provides an opportunity to study the history of the Soviet Union from the later years of the ‘New Economic Policy’ to the outbreak of war with Germany. The course examines the establishment of the Stalinist regime, its changing policies and developments in Russian culture and society. Particular topics include political and social conflict in the late 1920s; the ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ oppositions; the consolidation of Stalin’s power; the origins of the ‘Great Terror’; industrialization; collectivization and the peasantry; the cultural intelligentsia; film, literature and music during the 1930s; propaganda; popular culture; women; the family; the Comintern and foreign policy. The primary material, all in English or in English translation, includes a wide range of sources, including official documents recently released from the Russian archives, memoirs and film. There is also a lively secondary literature.

The purpose of this course is to give students an introduction to the culture, emotions and daily life of Europe from the final years of the Second World War to the end of the 1960s. The course is deliberately European, embracing both east and west, and encouraging students to make comparisons across the Iron Curtain. It also treats the politics and Cold War diplomacy of the period as the backdrop to the ways in which lives were impacted upon by the murderous events of the 1940s, by the social and economic changes of the post-war years, and by the new challenges of the 1960s. In recent years, this has been a very popular course option on the syllabus, and the tutors have recently revised the list of set texts to bring in some new works which place greater emphasis on patters on individual experience. The set texts are therefore deliberately subjective in character. They include novels such as Calvino’s description of the resistance in Italy, Kundera’s account of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and Koeppen’s evocation of the world of middle-class Germans coming to terms with the legacies of Nazism; as well as major films of the era, such as Godard’s A bout de souffle and Fellini’s La dolce vita. There are also memoirs (such as that by Kovaly on life in Communist Prague), works of critical engagement (such as de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex) and Holocaust memories (Steinberg’s Speak You Also).


This paper has two foci: the history of Europe’s largest and most vibrant Jewish community in modern times; and the history of how that presence –and absence –has been narrated, commemorated, and contestedin Poland from1945 to the present.

The near-total destruction of roughly three million Polish Jews, a thriving and extraordinarily diverse community representing some ten per cent of the Polish population, was without comparison anywhere in Europe: nowhere else did the upheavals of the twentieth century leave a more gaping absence,on such a staggering scale, as the Holocaust in Poland. Yet while this is an inescapable part of the story, this is not a paper about the Holocaust. First, the paper follows the historical and ethical imperative of studying not just Jewish death, but Jewish life – including Jewish life in Poland after the Holocaust. Second, it eschews a ‘lachrymose’ view (S. Baron) in which East European Jews are castas a backward, isolated, and persecuted minority teetering on ‘the edge of destruction’ (C. Heller). Avoiding a teleological lens, it stresses the rapidly evolving contexts of Jewish life in Poland and sees Polish Jewry as both deeply embedded in Polish society and broadly shaped by the wider currents of a transnational modernity.

Third, this paper is about Jews and their neighbours; it concerns both Polish and Jewish history, suggesting that neither can be fully understood without the other. It also addresses a broader European politics of memory, for which the presence (or absence) of minorities and questions of guilt or complicity in episodes of mass violence remain central. Introducing students to new ways of thinking about memory and history, it offers tools that can be appliedtoa variety of global historical contexts. Set texts include memoirs, essays, literary sources, documents, films, and websites, all available in English translation. 

This course invites you to consider the usefulness of film as a way into key historical and historiographical debates in 20th century Britain. Over the course of the century cinema-going emerged as the most popular demotic leisure activity - its appeal cutting across divisions of class, gender, age and region. Over the course of the century, moreover, film became one of the key sites at which to reflect on and make sense of processes of social, cultural and political change in a period of massive upheaval. Taking this as a starting point, we invite you to consider the historical meanings and significance of a series of genres or moments of filmmaking in Britain from the First World War to the present day. These include war and film, the documentary movement of the 1930s, Ealing and Carry On comedies and narratives of Imperial adventure. Conceptualizing British film in its broadest transnational and Imperial context, we thus consider the ways in which the course aims to get you to think critically about key issues of methodology and epistemology involved in using film as historical source - production, plot, visuality, music - as well as issues of audience and reception. In so doing we aim to move beyond a treatment of film as either a free-floating text or a 'mirror for England' in order to situate it at a particular historical moment. 


The Women’s Liberation Movement – or second-wave feminism as it is often known – involved thousands of women across Britain in an exhilarating, radical and sometimes revolutionary attempt to transform both personal and public life. Their aim was to liberate women, and the strategies they used ranged from creating new forms of communal living to disrupting the Miss World contest to invading nuclear weapons bases. This course explores the aims, experiences and achievements of the Women’s Liberation Movement. We will examine the wide-ranging debates, the sometimes heated controversies, the struggles of different groups – including black women, working-class women and lesbians, all of whom were central to the movement – and the ways these diverse women sought to create sisterhood and change the world.

This subject deals with the transformation of systematic political thinking in the west from sublimated theology and jurisprudence into an autonomous discipline. The process was primarily one of interpreting recently rediscovered texts from the ancient world. The first, and arguably the most important, of these were the authoritative sixth-century compilation of Roman law known as the Corpus Iuris Civilis and Aristotle’s major philosophical works. Both presented, or were taken to present, ready-made intellectual systems which could only with some ingenuity be reconciled with the teachings of the church, the realities of later medieval Europe, and with each other. A third strand was represented primarily by writers of Latin prose, notably Cicero and Seneca, most of whose works had not been lost during the early middle ages, but who began to be read in a new way by the scholars we term humanists.

The set texts by Aquinas and Marsilius of Padua represent very different attempts to grapple with the implications of Aristotle’s teaching: Aquinas’s on an abstruse, architectonic level, Marsilius’s in terms of the (allegedly pernicious) reality of papal authority within Western Christendom. Machiavelli tried to apply the teachings of the Roman moralists to politics as it was practised in the early sixteenth century, and shocked his readers by excising God from the question. The further texts allow us to explore the issues in greater detail, looking at how Aristotle, Roman law, and the canon law of the church could be used to develop coherent theories of government covering emperors and popes, kings and city communes, and their interrelations. They also illustrate the early development of humanist political thinking, and the different forms it took in Northern Europe and in Italy. By the end of the course it should be clear why western political thought has taken such a distinctive form. 

Between 1650 and 1800 political thought in Europe was transformed by the need to come to terms with the rise of commercial economies and the open, mobile societies which they created. At the same time many political thinkers were inspired by the contemporary revolution in the natural sciences to attempt to place the understanding of man and society on a similarly new footing. New theories of human nature and historical development were advanced and the scope of political thinking extended to include the workings of economy and society. Among the key issues to be confronted as a result were the role of divine providence in human history, the historical authority of the Bible, the scope for religious toleration, the rights and obligations of the individual in person and property, the moral consequences of commerce and luxury, and the value of civilization itself. 

The subject is studied in set texts by four authors and further texts by another six authors, all chosen for their intrinsic interest and because they illustrate the subject’s major themes and contrasts. The starting point is Hobbes’s Leviathan, whose rigorous attempt to place the understanding of man and society on a natural, scientific basis provided a constant reference point for later thinkers. By contrast, Vico’s New Science offers an extraordinarily imaginative historical account of how man became social. From the period of the Enlightenment, Rousseau’s Discourses on the Arts and Sciences, On the Origin of Inequality and On Political Economy present a radical critique of modern man and his civilization, while Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments respectively expound the new discipline of political economy, and defend the moral values of modern society. The texts by Spinoza, Locke, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Herder and Kant enable you to reconstruct the debates which link the four set texts. The highly original thinking of Mandeville, for example, had a decisive impact on both Rousseau and Smith, while the moral and political philosophy of Kant provides a challenging climax to the paper as a whole.

If you have studied and enjoyed Theories of the State, this paper enables you to take your understanding of Hobbes and Rousseau a great deal further, discovering their contemporary impact, while reading new texts, such as Vico, which are quite different in character. But the paper is equally accessible to those coming to the history of political and social thought for the first time.

This paper is organized around the ideas and their authors which form the basis of our thinking about politics and society today. More recent thinkers have sought to add to Marx and Weber (for example), but they have not gone decisively beyond them, and they can only be construed as developments of what was said by their 19th and early 20th century forebears. We still live in a world dominated by the thought-structures erected in the name of liberalism and socialism, and reports of Marx’s ‘death’ at the end of the Cold War have proved to be greatly exaggerated. 

Three principal themes run through the paper. First, engagement with the question “what was liberalism?” For this was the era when it was laid down as a political theory by authors such as Hegel, de Tocqueville and Mill, and then later re-considered by Weber and Durkheim. But was there one liberalism for all? And if not, what did this mean? The complement to this is consideration of Marx. As even his enemies concede/d, he was a fabulously (or fiendishly) clever man, and the study of his writings within the context supplied by hegemonic liberalism and emergent socialism is a classic opportunity for the exercise of pure historical method detached from modern hindsight. We also take in his intellectual legacy. Here Eduard Bernstein (the original “revisionist”) is our text, but the broader focus is on European socialism and their bourgeois-liberal opponents as they wrestled over Marx’s bequest. A third major theme is the introduction of a new category of ‘social’ thought, as a complement and contrast to ‘political thought’. This was an epoch-making expansion of a traditional frame of reference that could be traced back to Aristotle’s Politics, and it affected all thinkers in our period. Thus the category of the ‘social’ produced not only ‘social­ism’ but the liberal distinction between ‘the state’ and ‘civil society’, and the new discipline of ‘social science’ or ‘sociology’. The last was of particular importance in French thought (Comte and Durkheim are both set authors), but it was also a major concern for J.S. Mill and Max Weber. Their thinking raised at least two key questions. First, was political behaviour a derivative from social foundations or not? Secondly, was it better to study men and women in a group context through political or social science? The latter question was one of method and did not necessarily imply any political or social commitment, but still it was far from neutral. 

Many other themes might be noted. For example, how important were national and international traditions? How different were the English and the Americans (represented by Thorstein Veb-len) from Continental Europeans? Another major presence in our texts is the attempt to grapple with an idea that first “came out” after 1789: that the state was entirely autonomous and required no religious foundation. But was this true? Many, including secular and politically “advanced” thinkers, doubted whether the world could be changed quite so radically and suddenly.

You will enjoy taking this paper if you have an interest in understanding (in Weber’s words) the manner in which leading ideas take effect in history. This requires an interest in classic texts of course, but also the historical contexts from which they emerged. 

This paper will place the terms ‘nation’, ‘history’ and ‘writing’ under interrogation by examining texts relating to ‘India’ (also a name/concept to be explored). It will identify projects concerned with reconstructing the Indian past in both literature and history (focussing primarily on the colonial and post-Independence periods, roughly 1800-2000), with a view to showing how the vision of the Indian nation—what has been called the ‘idea of India’-- is vitally dependant on how this past is viewed. Indian historiography is therefore a contested terrain. The survey will necessarily be selective, but will try to identify the key intellectual figures, movements and trends, and events that constitute this terrain. 

Class 1: The first seminar will attempt a broad overview of the problematic, and will raise the theoretical questions around the key terms, history, nation and writing. Some recent texts like Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Homi Bhabha’s edited volume, Nation and Narration, will provide its contours. At the same time, some writings on pre-colonial representations of India will be studied (C.A. Bayly, Origins of South Asian Nationality.), in order to argue that the ‘Indian nation’ was not solely a manufacture of European political thought, colonial conquest and anti-colonial nationalism, as has been widely held. Richard Allen and Harish Trivedi, eds. Literature and Nation provides a good bibliography of writings on nation and nationalism (including excerpts from Tagore’s essay on nationalism). The texts, histories, and controversies around the two Indian national anthems, composed by Bankim Chandra and Tagore respectively, will provide a ‘core’ around which these questions will be arranged.

Class 2: Here we will try to show how the early colonial versions of Indian history, especially James Mill’s History of India (1811), presented what was to become an influential argument about a static Indian past, a Vedic ‘Golden Age’ now sunk into torpor. Marx’s deployment of this, and its counter/appropriation by early nationalists like Bankim Chandra (Anandmath), will then be examined. Said’s Orientalism (1978), and examples of the Orientalist-Anglicist controversy in India will also be addressed (Kopf, Bengal Renaissance.). Contemporary historians’ critiques of Mill (Javed Majeed), Marx (Perry Anderson), and Bankim (Sudipta Kaviraj, Tanika Sarkar), will be included in the reading list. Selections from Richard Allen and Harish Trivedi, eds. Literature and Nation, will be used to understand the ‘first encounters’ between the British and India.

Class 3: The third class will focus on the period from the late nineteenth century to World War I and the major writings of Empire (eg. Rudyard Kipling, Flora Annie Steel and E.M. Forster). The intention is to explore the interconnections between literary and official (Raj) representations of India during the socalled ‘High Noon’ of Empire, and particularly to notions of race, nation and class. Set texts include Kipling’s Kim and Forster’s Passage to India. Alongside these we will look at official views of India in government publications such as the decennial census, and at the historiographical controversy over the place of race and class in British colonial thought – seen, for example, in Edward Said’s Orientalism and David Cannadine’s Ornamentalism. 

Class 4: This seminar will focus on social reform, the ‘Woman Question’ and nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century. Rabindranath Tagore’s Home and the World is a key text through which to highlight various key issues: Swadeshi, the image of women as ‘Mother India’, Hindu-Muslim relations, and ‘feudalism’. Historical texts will include Tapan Raychaudhuri’s Europe Reconsidered: Perceptions of the West in Nineteenth Century Bengal.


Building upon the legacies of the 19thcentury, the further subject examines Mexico’s history from the Mexican revolution to the end of the 20thcentury. The focus is placed on investigating two central questions of the Mexican 20th century: How did a popular revolution mutate into a “successful” authoritarian state? How to explain the formation of an extremely inequitable capitalist regime after the revolutionary process? In debating these questions, the further subject will analyse major social, economic and political achievements of the post-revolutionary regime (unparalleled levels of economic growth, political stability and social reforms), aswell as its conflicts and constrains.

The course aims to introduce students to many of the most relevant discussions about political, economic, and social issues in modern Mexico. To this end, the set of texts includes fragments of literary texts, declassified documents, journalistic articles, and other primary sources. Over the course of the term, the students will gain a critical perspective of the enduring legacy of the Mexican revolution and will strengthen their ability to research and interpret primary sources in a complex politically charged environment.

Please note that the options listed above are illustrative and may be subject to change

Assessment: This paper is examined either with a 3-hour written examination.


Capping Further Subjects

Since the demand for certain of the Further Subjects may exceed the capacity of the Faculty to teach them, such subjects may be ‘capped’. This means that a ceiling is placed on the number permitted to attend the Faculty Classes in the subject.