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Society and Identity in Wales 1840-1914 - 20 credits (HST628)

During the Victorian and Edwardian period Wales changed beyond recognition. The spectacular growth of the South Wales coal industry placed Wales in a position of unparalleled economic importance within the British Empire and the world economy. Wales' economic centrality was matched in the late nineteenth century by increasing political assertiveness and national awareness, reflected in the establishment and growth of national institutions. New notions of Welshness associated with some popular cultural forms like rugby and choral singing also became widely accepted. At the same time, economic growth inaugurated crucial demographic, political and cultural changes which increasingly undercut widely accepted notions of Wales and Welshness, among them the rise of labour the decline of the Welsh language, and, to elites, less palatable aspects of popular culture. This course examines the growth of national awareness and the reformulation of notions of Welsh national identity under the impact of these profound economic, demographic, political, social and cultural changes. It also explores the extent to which such developments were inclusive from a class and gender perspective and assess the challenges to traditional and newly defined notions of Welshness.