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The University of Southampton

HIST6115 English Social and Cultural Life in the Long Eighteenth Century

Module Overview

Beginning with the Restoration and ending with the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars this module will trace how society and culture was changing through the long eighteenth century by considering a wide range of both primary source material and historiographical debates. Set in the context of the turbulent developments of the eighteenth century, such as the rise of the industrial revolution, religious changes, the impact of empire and the development of political and legal orders, we will address how and why the concept and definitions of popular culture were changing. To uncover the history of everyday life in eighteenth-century England this unit will examine the variations in peoples’ experiences according to gender, class, age and locality.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Gender roles in the Long Eighteenth Century, and in particular the 'golden age' thesis.
  • The Habermasian notion of a 'public sphere' and the role of the 'middling rank' in it.
  • The notion of a shift from a court-centred to a city-centred culture.
  • Recent new approaches to the shift from Georgian to Victorian eras, most notably that of Dror Wahrman.
  • Competing theories of how Englishness/Britishness was constructed in the Long Eighteenth Century.
  • The 'Consumer Revolution' thesis.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Assess the utility of the notion of a 'public sphere' in explaining the role of consumption in modern society.
  • Conceptualize changing relations between masculinity and femininity.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Read, digest and critically assess a range of sources, including non-visual sources.
  • Identify and summarize a set of key themes across a range of reading.
  • Succinctly communicate your ideas orally and in writing.
  • Frame and complete a coherent essay project which uses research in primary sources to develop a commentary on conceptual, cultural and historiographical debates.
  • Collaborate with others in pursuit of informed consensus.


An indicative list of the topics covered in the module includes: • the constructions of social order and hierarchy • masculinity and femininity • childhood and the family • education and enlightenment • urban and rural societies • leisure and tourism • consumerism • resistance and rebellion • crime and punishment

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The principal teaching method will be one two-hour seminar per week analysing key events, chronology and concepts, focusing on examination and discussion of primary and secondary source material and the key issues of debate they raise. Learning activities include: • Preparatory reading before each seminar • Participation in group and seminar discussion • Independent reading of the sources provided and of related secondary works • Preparing and delivering presentations in seminars • Independent research of additional information and source materials Seminars will provide you with general knowledge and understanding about chronology, sources and key concepts. This will be consolidated through readings and seminar discussions of primary and secondary source material. Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your own ideas about a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Follow-up work15
Wider reading or practice15
Completion of assessment task39
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J. C. D. Clark (1985). English Society 1688-1832. 

J. Rule (1988). Albion’s People: English Society 1714-1815. 

N. Rogers (1998). Crowds, Culture and Politics in Georgian Britain. 

P. Langford (1989). The New Oxford History of England: A Polite and Commercial People: England, 1727-1783. 

D. Hay, et al (1975). Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century England. 

W. R. Prest (1998). Albion Ascendant: English History, 1660-1815. 

L Colley (1992). Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837. 

D. Hay and N. Rogers (1997). Eighteenth Century English Society: Shuttles and Swords. 

T. Harris, ed (1995). Popular Culture in England c.1500-1850. 

R. Price (1999). British Society, 1680-1880. 

M Duffy (1986). The English Satirical Print, 1600-1832. 

J. Stevenson (1992). Popular Disturbances in England 1700-1832. 

R. Porter (2000). Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World. 

D. Outram (1995). The Enlightenment. 

R. Porter (1982). English Society in the Eighteenth Century. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Research essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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