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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 359
Course Title: Rise and Fall of the British Empire
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

This course traces the emergence of an England-centered empire, which from the 1600s to the near-present facilitated a vast and violent movement of goods, peoples, technologies, diseases, cultural artifacts, and cultural practices.  Attention is paid to issues of negotiation, domination and resistance; the effects of gender across cultures; politicization, identity formation, and nationalism; the complications and uses of race; and the empire’s effects on Britain.  Prerequisite: HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Occasional offering.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:


- Choose one textbook from Texts 1-6 below.

- Choose at least two textbooks from Texts 7-19 below.

Additional primary and secondary texts may be assigned as well.

The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire
By Marshall, P.J., Ed. (Cambridge University Press)
The Lion’s Share
By Porter, Bernard (Longman)
The British Empire, 1558-1995
By Lloyd, T.O. (Oxford University Press)
British Imperialism (Histories and Controversies)
By Johnson, Robert (Palgrave Macmillan )
The British Empire
By Samson, Jane (Oxford University Press)
The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset
By Levine, Philippa (Pearson)
Britain and Empire: Adjusting to a Post-Imperial World
By Butler, L.J. (I.B. Tauris)
By Said, Edward (Vintage)
Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience
By Hyam, Ronald (St. Martin's Press)
Gandhi: 'Hind Swaraj' and Other Writings
By Gandhi, Mohandas (Cambridge University Press)
Burmese Days
By Orwell, George (1st World Library )
Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850
By Colley, Linda (Anchor)
Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire
By Cannadine, David (Oxford University Press)
She: A History of Adventure
By Haggard, H. Rider (Modern Library Classics)
Imagining Home: Gender, Race and National Identity, 1954-1964
By Webster, Wendy (University of Central Lancashire Press)
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire
By Dalziel, Nigel (Penguin)
The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism
By Headrick, Daniel (Oxford University Press)
Mastery, Tyranny, & Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World
By Burnard, Trevor (Univ. North Carolina Press)
The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain
By Dirks, Nicholas (Harvard UP)
Course Objectives

  • To explore and better understand the different ideologies pertaining to the British Empire including mercantilism, classical liberalism, and protectionism.
  • To understand the roles of politics, economics, and public opinion for the history of the British Empire, and better understand the diversities of practice and policy in various geographical and temporal locations.
  • To understand the complexities of colonial encounter and domination, including issues of negotiation, complicity, accommodation and resistance.

    Measurable Learning Outcomes:

  • Explain major themes and theoretical frameworks of the British Empire.
  • Identify and characterize significant historical factors which contribute to patterns of change and continuity.
  • Identify and assess the different phases and configurations of the British Empire through the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Define the economic benefits and costs of the British Empire.
  • Identify motivating factors for imperialism/colonization, in addition to economic, cultural and political factors.
  • Explain the struggles accompanying decolonization during the twentieth century.
  • Explain the role of politics, including domestic and foreign concerns on empire building and consolidation
  • Explain how gender, race, and class affected the development of the empire and human relations within colonial societies.
  • Explain the effects of empire upon domestic British society, including the legacies of decolonization.

    Topical Outline:

    NOTE: Students will write a historical research paper which utilizes primary texts, an original argument, historical analysis, and proper Chicago documentation.

    • Historiography of British Empire
    • Mercantilism as ideology and practice
    • Protectionist and free trade policies
    • The role of public opinion and propaganda
    • The relationship of the metropole and the periphery
    • Gender, race, and class
    • Forms of resistance
    • Colonial identity and nationalism
    • Decolonization
    • Post colonialism

    Instruction should cover at least five of the following geographical areas:

    • British North America
    • India
    • China
    • The Middle East
    • Australia and New Zealand
    • Africa

    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: David Karr Date: August 20, 2014
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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