The University of Southampton

HIST3168 The Long life of the Indian Mutiny 2 (1857-58): Event, Metaphor, Memory.

Module Overview

This course will introduce students to the causes, events and long term consequences of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Seen as a watershed moment in the history of the British colonialism in India, the mutiny was the consequence of long held local grievances and continued to feature in political and popular memory long after its end.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to: - Explore the subaltern experience of the mutiny. - Trace the British popular response to the events of 1857. - To introduce students to role of the mutiny as a metaphor in various discourses including Indian nationalist, Hindu-fundamentalist, Imperial and Marxist discourses. - Introduce students to selected scholarly approaches to the study of the mutiny in the context of cotemporary political realities in India.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Key features of the subaltern experience of the Mutiny
  • Patterns in the popular response to the Mutiny in the British public sphere
  • Role of the mutiny as a metaphor in a variety of discourses.
  • Selected scholarly approaches to the study of the mutiny in the context of cotemporary political realities in India.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and describe the key features of the subaltern experience of the Mutiny
  • Isolate patterns in the popular response to the Mutiny in the British public sphere
  • Explain the role of the mutiny as a metaphor in a variety of discourses
  • Identify and explain selected approaches and methods that historians have used to study the contemporary significance of the revolt of 1857.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Engage in a programme of independent reading guided by the module tutor
  • Interpret and contextualize primary sources
  • Think analytically about the material you have located and read
  • Share your thoughts about your reading verbally and in writing, constructing arguments based on evidence
  • Manage your own learning and your time effectively, meeting deadlines


This two-semester course will be divided into three main thematic sections. First, through a study of the causes of the revolt, we will explore the nature and reception of the early Company state in India. The second section of the course will treat the actual events of the revolt. We will pay special attention to the local variations and sheer geographical reach of the Mutiny. The third section of the course will cover the consequences of the events of 1857. We will look at the colonial government’s response to the Mutiny, the subsequent treatment of the events of 1857 in the British press, in later nationalist rhetoric in India and the global Marxist revolutionary narratives. In this way we will explore the long life of the mutiny as a catastrophic/heroic event, a metaphor for anti-colonial popular protest or as a commonly held nationalist memory. We will look at a variety of primary sources ranging from memoirs, court documents, missionary sermons, photographs, cinema, and literature and folk poetry. In the second semester, we will treat the social, cultural and intellectual aspects of the Mutiny. To this end, we will explore the history of the mutiny beyond the story of high politics and look at how common people (British as well as Indian) experienced, narrated and remembered the events of 1857. Topics covered may include the present day production and commemoration of local heroes of 1857, emergence of folk literature based on the events of 1857 and invocation of these events in everyday popular politics in India. Furthermore, we will also trace the afterlife of the mutiny by exploring how narratives about it were deployed in nationalist, colonialist and internationalist rhetoric in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Tutor- and student-led seminar discussions - One-to-one essay tutorials Learning activities include - Independent reading using resources available in the library - Note-taking in seminars - Active participation in seminars Students will use reading lists provided by the module convener to guide their reading and preparation for weekly seminars. They will be expected to make contributions to seminar discussions based on their preparatory reading. Independent study and research will equip you with the subject knowledge and understanding to participate actively in the module. Presentation of findings and participation in seminar discussion will enable you to sharpen your ideas and receive constructive feedback from tutors and other students whilst developing your oral presentational skills. Preparing and writing the essay will enable you to further focus your ideas and understanding whilst developing your written communication skills. Preparation for the exam will consolidate your subject knowledge and understanding and encourage the development of good note-taking practice. The exam will also enhance your time-management skills and improve your ability to work under pressure. .

Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels (1960). The first Indian war of independence, 1857-1859. 

Mahasveta Devi (2000). The Queen of Jhansi. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

A new module created by CQA Pre-requisite: HIST3163 The Long Life Of The Indian Mutiny 1 (1857-58): Event, Metaphor, Memory 2017-18

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