The twentieth century witnessed a seismic transformation in Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world. In 1914, Britain controlled the largest empire the world had ever seen. By 1960, the majority of Britain’s colonies were independent, or on the verge of independence. This has been examined in a good deal of detail. What has been less explored is what the people of Britain made of this change. How did they respond? The module examines a wide range of primary sources, including novels, the press, exhibitions and films in an attempt to evaluate public attitudes in the last stages of a collapsing empire.
How did British society respond to this change in status? In this module, you will use a wide variety of primary sources, including newspapers, novels, and films to assess what Britons thought about the world in which they lived and the challenges they faced. Did Britons respond by facing up to such challenges, or by failing to do so? How did the end of empire affect British identities? How much did Britons invest in the notion that the Commonwealth would see to it that Britain’s global pre-eminence was perpetuated by another means? Looking at the period from the First World War, through the troubles of the Depression and the Second World War and out into the postwar period, this module will afford a look at a rapidly changing cultural environment and how popular culture sought to make sense of the end of an era.