Approaches to Cultural and Social History

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
29 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module focuses on the theoretical and methodological implications of the 'cultural turn'. It introduces students to key concepts in the field, exploring debates about the meanings of such terms as 'subjectivity', 'identities', and 'discourse'. The latter part of the course pursues the possibilities opened by cultural approaches, as reflected in new and emerging debates and themes such as childhood, public and private, sex, the psyche, and memory. Throughout we will be asking questions such as: what makes cultural history distinctive? What are its sources? How does an emphasis on representation change or challenge accepted notions of the relationship between language and experience, evidence and interpretation, the economic and the cultural?

Module aims

Debates about theory which are detached from reference to practice can be arid, so in each weekly seminar we shall address the relationship between theory and practice (in the form of case studies) so far as possible.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should have come to understand some of the developments that have influenced the writing of social and cultural history over recent decades.

Module information

You will want to do some introductory reading, to orientate yourself and make sure you are acquainted with the background to the themes of this module. Your best starting point are the two books cited below of which Peter Burke is sole author, but all those listed will provide useful background and are books you may want to return to over the course of the term.
Peter Burke History and Social Theory, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity, 2005)
Peter Burke What is Cultural History?, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity, 2008)
Peter Burke ed. New Perspectives in Historical Writing, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity, 2001)
Anna Green & Kathleen Troup, eds The Houses of History: a Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1999)
Ulinka Rublack ed., A Concise Companion to History (Oxford, 2011 [reprinted with corrections 2012)]
Quentin Skinner ed. Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (Cambridge: CUP, 1985)

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework 5,000 Word Extended Essay 05/02/2020 100%
Practical Class Presentation 20%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Professor James Raven
Graduate Administrator, Department of History, Telephone: 01206 872190



External examiner

Dr Paul Corthorn
Queen's University Belfast
Senior Lecturer in Modern British History
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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