MA Public Opinion and Political Behaviour
MA History options

Year 1, Component 05

History option from list
Gender in Early Modern Europe c.1500- c.1800

You’ll examine the ways in which gender divisions were constructed, experienced, affirmed and challenged, and the ways in which gender relations were played out and regulated in Europe c.1450-c.1750. You’ll look at key phenomena of the early modern period, such as the Reformation and religious change, and the hunting of witches, and analyse how they affected gender and gender relations and the extent to which men and women experienced them differently.

Rethinking History: Approaches, Theories and Concepts

This module focuses on the theoretical and methodological implications of the 'cultural turn'. You’ll be introduced to key concepts, and will explore debates about the meanings of terms such as 'subjectivity', 'identities' and 'discourse'. You will also explore the possibilities opened by cultural approaches, as reflected in new and emerging debates and themes such as childhood, public and private, sex, the psyche, and memory.

History, Power, and Identity
Making History, Sharing History: Sources, Methods, and Audiences for Historical Research

This module provides you with a rigorous and practical preparation for undertaking historical research in Britain in the period since the 16th century. You will understand the structures of archival and library provision in the UK, have acquired practical skills of project management, and familiarised yourself with some of the key institutions and sources you will need to use in research. There will also be a visit to the Essex Record Office, UK Data Archive and Albert Sloman Library Special Collections.

Archives and Power

Who controls the raw materials of History? Historians depend on archives: for manuscripts, printed and digitised documents, photographs and images, textiles, oral histories, film and many other types of source. It's only relatively recently, however, that we've started to look 'behind the catalogues' to examine critically the systems and structures of actual archives as specific sites of practice and to question the power relationships they preserve and/or hide. This module asks questions about what's been collected and how it's been organised, what's got 'lost', destroyed or withheld, and how and why records have been used, neglected and 'discovered'. It's also about whose voices and stories get included and excluded and why. This module flips our perspective as historians. We'll start from the other side of the enquiry desk, working towards a critical understanding of what archivists do, how archives are made and operate and how power is built into their structures. Records are always political and their use and abuse can have serious, sometimes catastrophic, human consequences (as we've seen in the recent Windrush scandal) – but they can also empower people, aid the pursuit of justice and foster a sense of community. So we'll also look at case studies, including one chosen by the class, to give us new insights into archives as sites of power.

Approaches to War, Culture and Society

What is at stake when we study war, culture and society? This module equips students with different disciplinary perspectives on the human experience of war in different times and places. It introduces students to major historical debates on the social effects of war in the modern era, human rights in conflict zones, and the psychological causes and consequences of war experience. Alongside approaches to these debates, students will consider diverse ways of 'framing' the study of war – whether this means thinking through gender, looking at the local or the global, or considering how individuals and societies come to terms with death rather than focusing on fighting. Finally, the module introduces students to a range of primary sources for studying war and its effects on culture and society, including personal testimony, legal sources, medical texts, and film. The module therefore exposes students to theoretical and methodological perspectives that will inform their study across this MA programme.

War and Medicine

Both medicine and the military are social phenomena. From the middle of the 19th century, medicine came to play an increasingly central role in the emergence of modern mass and industrialised warfare. In addition to the maintenance of discipline and morale, medicine also provided administrative and technical support to what became known as the 'total' wars in the 20th century. This module examines the relationship between medicine and the military in the 'modernisation' of societies during the 19th century and 20th century. It asks to what extent medicine contributed to the 'rationalisation' of military management?

War and Memory: Remembering, Commemorating, and Contesting the Past

The memories surrounding war and conflict are defining features of cultures and societies around the world. Wars are remembered in a variety of ways: through commemoration, in in individual and family stories, within popular culture, and within political narratives. These memories often tell us more about the present (or rather the time in which they are remembered) than about the wars and conflicts themselves. In fact, analysing how war is remembered today is often one of the best ways to understand how all types of history can be deployed to serve different purposes in the present. Memories of war are often highly politicised and controversial, becoming bedrocks of national myths. To challenge these memories, and these myths, is often to challenge the fundamental ideas that national cultures are based on. This module looks at the construction, circulation and contestation of war memory in a variety of national contexts, and at different points in the past. It focuses on three broad themes: commemoration, popular culture, and the politics of remembering the past. We will discuss topics including the symbolism of the ‘poppy’ in commemorating the First World War, the depiction of the Second World War in film, the memory of the Vietnam War in the United States, and the different ways societies have remembered the bombing of civilians throughout the twentieth century.

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