X425 • 3 semester units in History
Britain, a small island set on the edge of Europe, has achieved considerable power and success in global history. In considerable part this was due to a culture of enterprise, and the technological ingenuity to covert natural resources found in these islands into valuable commodities. As a result both individuals and the nation prospered, affecting the nature of British society and politics. And in some respects the commercial and manufacturing developments that occurred or were initiated on this island developed new ways of making and consuming that have changed the nature of modern societies across the globe.
The exploitation of natural resources follows a sequence of those on the ground, those in the ground and those under the ground. The suitability of the landscape for the rearing of sheep first prompted in the Middle Ages the exportation of wool, and, subsequently, the development of a vigorous textile industry, reconfiguring the pattern of land-holding, urban settlement and commerce. Wood also was a material used extensively for fuel, for buildings, implements and furnishings and for the important shipping that would carry goods and protect commerce. The use of baked earth, in the form of bricks and of pottery changed the configuration of the home and the comfort of domestic life in the 16th and 17th centuries, and led to the emergence of one of Britainís most successful early mass-production industries and the growth of a consumer society in the 18th century. And, significantly mineral deposits mined from the ground, in the form of coal and of ores in the 18th and 19th centuries, led to new potential in the powering of production and creation of machinery, a British predominance for an initial period in manufacturing and the creation of an industrial society.
The seminar includes visits to historic sites where these manufacturing developments occurred, and also visits to the social consequences; the market towns, workers cottages and elite houses that resulted; a woollen mill, market town and manor house in the Cotswolds; a pottery works and an Arts and Crafts house in the West Midlands; and an iron works, workers cottage and coal mine in South Wales and a Victorian industrialist’s house. In addition there will be a session in a local crafts college to experience firsthand the process of making an object in clay.
You are expected to write one paper of 1,500 to 2,000 words and to deliver one oral presentation.
15% course participation
25% in-class presentation
60% final paper
The reading can be divided into books that provide an easily digested account of some specific topics we will be examining and more generalised and academic accounts of the development of industrialization. As accessible accounts of these subjects, I suggest these books on the wool trade, and Brunskill on brick and clay being more technical in nature:
Chris Aspin, The Woollen Industry, (Shire Publications Ltd., 1998)
Derek Hurst, Sheep in the Cotswolds, (The History Press Ltd., 2005)
R.W. Brunskill, Brick and Clay Building in England, (Yale University Press, 1999)
The following books provide an introduction to industrialization, with Briggs focusing on the social consequences:
Asa Briggs, A Social History of England, (Penguin 1999) chapters 4–8
Tim Cooper, How to Read Industrial Britain, (Ebury Press, 2011)
Stan Yorke, The Industrial Revolution Explained, (Countryside Books, 2005)
The following are more academic accounts of industrialization: Griffin providing an overview; and King, et al and Mathias are more academic; and Morgan providing the social consequences.
Emma Griffin, A Short History of the British Industrial Revolution, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
Steven King and Geoffrey Timmins, Making Sense of the Industrial Revolution: British Economy and Society 1700–1850, (Manchester University Press, 2001)
Peter Mathias, The First Industrial Nation: The Economic History of Britain 1700–1914, (Taylor & Francis Ltd., 2001)
Kenneth Morgan, The Birth of Industrial Britain: Social Change, 1750–1850, (Pearson Education Ltd., 2011)
Antony Buxton, M.A., D.Phil., lectures on the history of furniture and the domestic interior for the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education and other institutions. He is engaged in research into historic furnishings and the domestic culture of historic homes; he is also a furniture maker, restorer and conservator.