19-20 HS2020: The Georgians: Society, Economy and Culture in Britain, c. 1688-1832

This course examines Britain between the Glorious Revolution and the Great Reform Act, also known as the long eighteenth century. The Georgian period was an era of startling contrasts: elegance and squalor, politeness and prostitution, ‘patricians’ and ‘plebs’, landed privilege and a booming economy. This was an epoch of startling change in trade and industry, town and countryside, culture and manners. We examine concepts of ‘industrial revolution’ and the ‘birth of a consumer society’; the flowering of towns and polite culture; the interlinked worlds of rich, poor and striving middling sort; bloody criminal justice and the criminal underworld; literacy, letter-writing and the rise of the novel; gender relations, sex and the family. Were the British a polite and commercial people, or an ungovernable rabble? Was this an 'Ancien Régime', or the first modern, industrial society? This course introduces students to the cultural, social and economic history of one of the most vibrant centuries in British history and reveals the Georgians in all their colour and contradictions.