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Culture, Society and Identity in Wales 1847-1914 - 30 credits (HS1865)

Module Tutor: Professor Bill Jones

Course Description

This course examines the growth of national awareness and the reformulation of notions of Welsh national identity during the years between 1847 and 1914 under the impact of profound economic, demographic, political, social and cultural changes. These themes will be illustrated by exploration, first, of the influence of nonconformity and the construct of the 'nonconformist nation', the ascendancy of the Liberal party, the ideology of the 'Gwerin', the defining of new notions of Welshness associated with some popular cultural forms like rugby and choral singing. Second, the course will explore the extent to which such developments were inclusive from a class and gender perspective, and third, challenges to traditional and newly-defined notions of Welshness posed by the rise of labour, the decline of the Welsh language, and certain aspects of popular culture.

Credits: 30

Prerequisites: None

Necessary for: N/A

How the module will be delivered

A range of teaching methods will be used in each of the sessions of the course, comprising a combination of lectures, seminar discussion of major issues and workshops for the study of primary source material. The syllabus is divided into a series of major course themes, then sub-divided into principal topics for the study of each theme.

The aim of the lectures is to provide a brief introduction to a particular topic, establishing the salient features of major course themes, identifying key issues and providing historiographical guidance. The lectures aim to provide a basic framework for understanding and should be thought of as useful starting points for further discussion and individual study. Where appropriate, handouts and other materials may be distributed to reinforce the material discussed.

Seminar and Source Workshops:
The primary aim of the sessions will be to generate debate and discussion amongst course participants, focused in particular on primary source material. Seminars and source workshops for each of the course topics will provide an opportunity for students:
(a) to discuss topics or issues introduced by the lectures,
or (b) to discuss related themes, perhaps not directly addressed by the lectures, but drawing on ideas culled from those lectures.
and (c) to analyse different types of primary sources available, discussing the principal ways in which they can be used by historians.

Seminars and source workshops will provide the student with guidance on how to critically approach the various types of primary source material. Preparation for seminars and workshops will focus on specific items from the sources and related background reading, with students preparing answers to questions provided for each session. Both seminars and source workshops will provide an opportunity to discuss and debate the issues with fellow students. Classes will be divided into smaller groups for discussion purposes, with the results presented as part of an overall class debate at the end of the session.


Students will be assessed by means of a combination of one essay relating to primary sources [20%], an assessed essay [30%] and an examination paper [50%].

Course assignments:

The Assessed Essay relating to primary sources will contribute 20% of the final mark for the module and must be no longer than 1,000 words.

The Assessed Essay will contribute 30% of the final mark for the module. It is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to review evidence, draw appropriate conclusions from it and employ the formal conventions of scholarly presentation. It must be no longer than 2,000 words.

The Examination will take place during the second assessment period [May/June] and will consist of an unseen two hour paper that will contribute the remaining 50% of the final mark for this module. Students must write 2 answers in total.

Skills that will be practised and developed

• communicate ideas and arguments effectively, whether in class discussion or in written form, in an accurate, succinct and lucid manner.
• formulate and justify arguments and conclusions about a range of issues, and present appropriate supporting evidence
• an ability to modify as well as to defend their own position.
• an  ability to think critically and challenge assumptions.
• an ability to use a range of information technology resources to assist with information retrieval and assignment presentation.
• time management skills and an ability to independently organise their own study methods and workload.
• work effectively with others as part of a team or group in seminar or tutorial discussions.

Indicative Reading and Resource List:

Russell Davies, Secret Sins: Sex Violence and Society in Carmarthenshire 1870–1914 (1996)
Trevor Herbert and Gareth Elwyn Jones ed., Wales: 1880–1914 (1988)
Angela V. John, Our Mother's Land: Chapters in Welsh Women's History 1830–1939 (1991)
Geraint H Jenkins, Language and Community in Nineteenth Century Wales (1998)
Kenneth O. Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation: Wales, 1880-1980 (1981)
Dai Smith, A Question for History (1999)