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The University of Southampton

HIST2108 The Making of Modern India

Module Overview

India as we know it today did not exist before decolonization in 1947. During British imperial rule, India was a collection of British colonial territories and loosely colonized Princely states. And, for almost three thousand years before colonial rule, the territory we know as India was in fact many different states. How did India become one nation with many official languages and the biggest functioning democracy in the world? This module will address this question by tracing how stories about ‘one India’ have been told in the last 150 years by important commentators of the time. We will read James Mills’ 1818 History of India alongside Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India which was written in 1935. Through these readings we will think about how a modern nation state comes to be. What are the processes through which new unity is imagined? Effectively, this module will introduce you to debates in the history of nationalism through a case study of Indian nationalism.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Major ways in which the story of India as a singular nation has been narrated in history writing, literature and visual arts
  • Major theories of nationalism
  • Debates within the field of the historiography of European and Non-western nationalism
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think critically about narratives of nationhood in history writing, literature and visual culture
  • Weigh the comparative merits of influential theories of nationalism
  • Recognize the internal fragmentation of the Indian nation state.
  • Think critically about the applicability of European theories of nationalism to new post-colonial nation states.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret historical texts as products of their own context and not as repositories of positivist knowledge.
  • Understand how these texts can be related to other forms of evidence
  • Assimilate a variety of interpretations and consider the evidence for each
  • Develop independent ideas on key problems and be able to justify and defend them
  • Present arguments in oral and written form and engage with the reasoned arguments of others
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think critically about nationalism and its impact on history writing.
  • Connect historical writing to the wider historical problems of its time.
  • Integrate these readings with a wider understanding of the modern world.


Topics to be covered include- Introduction to nationalist historiography, English, French and German ideas about history and nation, Histories of India written between 1800 and 1947 and literary representations of India between 1800 and 1947.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Short introductory lectures which may include some group work/participation • Seminars focusing on the detailed reading and analysis of primary sources – these could be texts, images or objects Learning activities include: • In depth analysis of primary sources • Preparatory reading and individual study • Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Preparation for scheduled sessions72
Completion of assessment task30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Chatterji, Bankim (2005). Anandamath, or The Sacred Brotherhood. 

Mill, James, and William Thomas (1975). The history of British India. 

Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar, and S. T. Godbole (1971). Six glorious epochs of Indian history. 

Herder, Johann Gottfried, and Frank Edward Manuel (1968). Reflections on the philosophy of the history of. 

Raja Rao (1963). Kanthapura. 

Gellner, Ernest (1997). Nationalism. 

Goswami, Manu (2004). Producing India from colonial economy to national space. 

Anderson, Benedict R. O'G. (1991). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. 

Sartori, Andrew (2008). Bengal in global concept history: culturalism in the age of capital. 

Hunter, William Wilson, and P. E. Roberts (1966). A history of British India. 

Nehru, Jawaharlal (2004). The discovery of India. 

Shingavi, Snehal (2014). The Mahatma misunderstood: the politics and forms of literary nationalism in India. 

Tagore, Rabindranath (1917). Nationalism. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 60%
Exercise  ( words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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