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Approaches to the Long Eighteenth Century

Approaches to the Long Eighteenth Century

This option is an advanced introduction to eighteenth-century history, primarily focusing on Britain and Europe. It aims to introduce students to the latest research topics, methods and debates in eighteenth-century history. The option is designed for graduate students, primarily those writing dissertations on aspects of the long eighteenth century, but all students in the MPhil in Early Modern History, the MPhil in Modern European History and the MPhil in Modern British History are welcome to take the option.

The option takes advantage of the History Faculty’s exceptional and diverse strength in eighteenth-century history and involves the participation of a number of colleagues. It is organized primarily according to key themes in eighteenth-century history; to some extent, these themes also correspond to different methodologies or sub-disciplines.

Unlike many MPhil options, the design is (selectively) synoptic, seeking to provide or broaden students’ background. The option will provide an opportunity to reflect on the relations – both compatibilities and incompatibilities – among the themes and methodologies. It is expected that this diverse approach will help students place their own research in the appropriate contexts. The basic assumption of the option is that individual research is enhanced by a thorough and wide understanding of current historical research in the field.

The option will be taught in seven two-hour classes in Michaelmas Term. The convenor, Dr Lawrence Klein, will be present at all sessions. Aside from the first, he will be joined by another member of the Faculty who will lead a session organized around a particular theme or methodological approach to the period. The meetings are as follows:

Week 1. Introduction: grand narratives of the eighteenth century. Dr Lawrence Klein
Week 2. Enlightenment. Dr Sylvana Tomaselli
Week 3. Political culture. Dr Andrew Thompson
Week 4. No class.
Week 5. The sciences. Dr Emma Spary
Week 6. Gender and labour. Dr Amy Erickson
Week 7. Revolution and counter-revolution. Dr Sujit Sivasundaram
Week 8. Religion. Dr Matthew Neal

Students will be asked to undertake reading in preparation for these classes and, occasionally, to make a short presentation about the reading in the course of the term. A full syllabus will be available in late September. Students will be contacted in advance of the first meeting with a reading assignment.

Students will be assessed by an essay according to the requirements of their particular MPhil.



M.S. Anderson, Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713-1789, 4th edn, 2000
T.C.W. Blanning, ed., The Eighteenth Century: Europe 1688-1815, 2000
T.C.W. Blanning. The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815, 2007
William Doyle, The Ancien Régime, 2nd edn, 2001
William Doyle, The Old European Order, 2nd edn, 1992
Olwen Hufton, Europe: Privilege and Protest 1730-1789, 1980
R.R. Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution, 1959-1964
Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe 1780-1850, 2000
Franco Venturi, The End of the Old Regime in Europe, 3 vols., 1991


C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 2004
J. Burbank & F. Cooper, Empires in World History, 2010
John Darwin, After Tamerlane, 2007
Jack P. Greene and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal, 2009
A.G. Hopkins, ed., Globalisation in World History, 2001
J. Iliffe, Africans, 1995
A. Pagden, Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, 1993
K. Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, 2000
Joachim Radakau, Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment, 2008
J. Richards, The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World, 2004