BA Politics and Modern History / Course details
Year of entry: 2020
Course unit details:
'First Modern Economy' and 'First Industrial Nation': The Netherlands, England, c.1600-1850
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Why are some countries rich whilst others stay poor? Why does capitalism work better for some countries than others? Is it because some people simply have the better strategies to achieve wealth and prosperity? Is it because some are cleverer? How do geography, resources, technology, culture, or the ‘rules of the game’ come into play? These have pretty much been the master questions historians have asked when studying the history of capitalism and looking at world poverty and global economic inequality since the past four centuries or so. In this course, we will study some of the main explanations and narratives produced by historians regarding the origins of wealth, prosperity and modern economic growth, and we will tease out some of their salient features through a comparative framework, focusing on the “first modern economy” (The Netherlands) and the “first industrial nation” (Britain).
This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; Euro Studies programmes; History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas; and CLAH-owned programmes. Available to students on an Erasmus programmes subject to VSO approval.
In this course we study the history of modern capitalism focusing on long-term growth and development of the European economy since the dawn of the early modern age. By discussing select historical examples, case studies, theories and models explaining or addressing prosperity, wealth and economic development in the present and the past, students will familiarise themselves with basic concepts in history, economic history and the history of development.
By the end of this course students will be able to:
Indicative Course Structure:
Week 1: Introduction: Concepts and Pitfalls of Modernity, the History of Capitalism and Don’t Be Afraid of Economic History
Week 2: Modernity in a Pre-modern World – a Paradox?
Week 3: The Netherlands (I)– The ‘First Modern Economy’?
Week 4: The Netherlands (II) – Playing the Global Markets
Week 5: Field Trip
Week 6: An Industrious Revolution? Markets, Wants, Desires and the Wealth of Goods
Week 7: Emulation. Trade and Cultural Transfer as Strategies of Development
Week 8: Slow, but Steady. The English Industrial Revolution as a Concept and Problem in History
Week 9: Dare to Know (Sapere Aude)! Culture, Enlightenment, and the Rise of a Knowledge Economy
Week 10: Bringing the State Back In. The Role of the State in the Process of Development in Historical Perspective
Week 11: The Rise of Modern Capitalism, 1350-1850: The European Dimension and Conclusion
Week 12: Exam Clinic, Wrap-up, extended contact hrs
Teaching and learning methods
Lecture, seminar, group discussion, flipped classroom, (unassessed) presentations, posters, group work, independent study, field trip.
Knowledge and understanding
Demonstrate a profound knowledge and understanding of
- Historically observable strategies of economic development and growth, with particular reference to the ‘Dutch’ and ‘English’ models c. 1600-1850.
- How pre-industrial societies negotiated the opportunities and constraints posed by their material environment
- Capitalism as an economic-historical mode of production that is socially and culturally embedded
- How to engage critically with historical concepts, methods and theories of capitalism and economic modernisation and their application to the writing of social and economic history in general.
- Demonstrate a critical awareness of themes and methodologies connected with the study of early modern and contemporary capitalism from a social, economic and cultural perspective.
- Undertake critical and sophisticated reviews of scholarly literature on capitalism and develop an independent perspective
- Formulate an individual research question based on scholarly literature and select primary sources
- Develop analytical skills that can be applied to primary or secondary material
- Synthesize and interpret in an incisive manner a wealth of information gathered and analysed through independent research
Students should acquire the following skills:
- writing essays
- formulating, communicating and defending a hypothesis
- interpreting primary sources
- deploying basic descriptive statistics in their argumentation
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- develop and apply oral and group skills by participating in seminars and taking an active role in group discussions & assignments [verbal communication skills and teamwork skills].
- engage in the critical evaluation of a range of secondary and primary source materials [analytical and critical reasoning skills].
- write reflective and well-structured pieces of work thereby demonstrating evidence of an ability to frame and develop an argument in a sustained manner appropriate to L3 [written communication skills].
- Collaborate in projects as part of peer-group assignments
- Group/team working
- Work independently, as well as part of a team, both within seminars and through individual research
- Written communication
- Write a case study (briefing, poster) conforming to standards upheld in governmental and non-governmental bodies
|Written assignment (inc essay)||50%|
Feedback on first essay: Summative. Students will receive essay feedback electronically and through verbal discussion (upon appointment), within ten working days (2 weeks). Submission of 2nd essay at least one month after submission of first essay so as to allow for improvement based on feedback.
Feedback on second essay: see above.
Feedback on exam: Summative. Students will receive exam feedback electronically.
Jan De Vries / Ad Van der Woude, The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815, Cambridge 1997
Lisa Jardine, Going Dutch. How England plundered Holland’s Glory, London 2009
Robert C. Allen, The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective, Cambridge et al. 2009
Jan Luiten Van Zanden, The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution. The European Economy in a Global Perspective, 1000–1800, Leiden et al. 2009
Jan de Vries, The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Behavior and the Household Economy, 1650 to the Present, Cambridge (CUP) 2008
Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy. An Economic History of Britain 1700–1850, New Haven (YUP) 2009
R. Floud / P. Johnson (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, Bd. I: Industrialisation, 1700–1860, Cambridge (CUP) 2004
E. A. Wrigley, Energy and the English Industrial Revolution, Cambridge, CUP 2010
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Philipp Roessner||Unit coordinator|
Essay 1, summative, 1500 words, 20%
Essay 2, summative, 2500 words, 30%
Exam, summative, 2 hours, 2 questions, 50%