HIS 3332-40 Syllabus – Spring 2017 – Texas Wesleyan University

Instructor: Chris Ohan

History of the British Empire

Office: PMC 244

Phone: 817-531-4913

Meeting: Tuesday 7-9:30

Office Hours: Mon & Wed 10-12, 1:30-4, Tues 3-6; or by appointment

Location: EJW B26

Web: www.historymuse.net

E-mail: cohan@txwes.edu  


“You cannot have omelets without breaking eggs; you cannot destroy the practices of barbarism, of slavery, of superstition … without the use of force.”

-Joseph Chamberlain


Course description: “The history of Britain and the British Empire from the Glorious Revolution [1688] to the present Commonwealth of Nations.” 


The history of England from 1688 has had a profound effect on the modern world; in economics one can cite the work of Adam Smith, in politics the social contract theory of John Locke and in terms of society not only is England a pattern for the modern welfare state, but through much of the period this course examines, London has been a major social capital in the world.  Finally, throughout the formative 19th century, England set the standard (for better or worse) of imperialism, having an empire upon which “the sun never sets.”  The English political tradition of John Locke influenced the French Revolution and notions of liberalism which redefined the treatment of defeated states following 1815 and continued after World War II and the global community today. This course will examine the period of English/British history from 1688 to the present as a way of understanding the world today.


Learning Outcomes:  Upon successful completion of this class, you should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the period in English/British history from 1688 to the present.  By reading and critically reviewing the Guttenplan text you will look specifically at how the British legal system dealt with the meaning of “the Holocaust.”  This text will give you a particular perspective regarding the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials. With the Carter text and its focus on specific individuals and their effect on the coming of World War I, you should be able to compare, analytically, events and issues from this period to various issues in the contemporary world.  To make these comparisons, you should be familiar with various types of sources from the period, including text, art and artifact.  Through the three exam essays, you should be able to apply basic historical methods of research to interpret the period.  Through the readings, in-class discussions and writing assignments, you should acquire the ability to distinguish between and use primary and secondary sources for the period.


The outcomes listed above relate to the Goals of the History Program:  1. That students will possess a general knowledge of human history, 2. Students will understand historical interpretation and historiography, 3. Students will practice the skills inherent in the craft of history, and 4. That students will be better prepared to enter graduate programs in History, teach history in middle or secondary school, or enter other careers open to graduates with degrees in the Liberal Arts.


Required Texts:

Ferguson, Empire (Basic, 2004)


Smith and Smith, The Past Speaks Vol. 2 (2e Heath)


Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial (Norton, 2002)

Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I (Vintage 2011)


Instructional Methods/Class Format:  Most classes will consist of a lecture (with some give and take as questions come up) and discussions of Ferguson and the primary source texts from the Smith and Smith reader.  (This is a once-a-week class so do not expect that I will lecture the entire time.)  Discussion will determine the 10% participation grade.  Do not hesitate to bring up relevant questions and comments.  On the university level, I assume that you will complete the assigned reading for each week.  It is also assumed that you will attend all classes.


Evaluation and Grading:




Midterm Exam


Book Review 1


Book Review 2


Final Exam







Please note that I submit midterm grades only for those students who appear to be failing.  All work will be submitted through Blackboard by the due dates/times listed.


Exams.  Exams will be out-of-class written essays answering a series of questions provided.  The midterm essay will be due in Blackboard on 7 March by 7pm.  The final essay is due on 9 May by 7pm. 


Book Reviews.  You are responsible for completing two book reviews.  The book reviews are due as follows: Carter (April 4 by 7pm), Guttenplan (May 2 by 7pm).  See guidelines/format below.


Please note that any late work (exams or reviews) will be penalized at the rate of one letter grade per day.  If an assignment is due at 7pm and it is submitted at 7:15pm, it is a day late.  No assignments will be accepted more than 4 days late.


Writing for this course should employ standard academic formatting—double spaced, typed—with citations following either MLA or Chicago style.  If you need help with this see the guides on the links page of the class website, the Wesleyan library or the instructor.  Correct use of source information and citations is assumed on the college level.  Failure to cite or format according to one of the styles listed will result in a lower grade.  See Grading Guidelines on the class webpage for specific grading criteria regarding written work. 


Class Participation.  A large portion of class time will be devoted to discussion.  Discussions will draw on the readings for the day from Ferguson and from the Smith and Smith The Past Speaks text.  We will also devote class time to discussing the Guttenplan and Carter texts.  Your class participation grade will consist of my evaluation of your preparedness and the level of your participation in these discussions.  Obviously, if you are not present or don’t talk, your participation grade will be low.  Please note that on discussion days, if it is evident you have not read, you may be asked to leave the classroom.


Attendance is mandatory.  If you miss more than the equivalent of one week of class consider the effect on your grade.  Should you miss more, please do not offer excuses, notes or request special consideration.  Keep in mind a) that “dropping a course” is perfectly legitimate when circumstances arise that prevent you from completion, and b) that I should not be expected to change class expectations based on your circumstances.  You are responsible for all class assignments regardless of attendance.  Quizzes covering assigned readings may be given at any time and factored into the course grade at the discretion of the instructor.  If you are unable to complete this course, you must withdraw from it.  Please note that if you miss more than one class, I reserve the right to drop you from the course.  The last date to withdraw with a W is 11 April.


Internet/Blackboard:  Feel free to send email to the address above.  Keep in mind that I will not entertain discussion about grades, missed classes &etc over email or any other electronic medium.  In addition, this syllabus, the lecture/reading schedule, some of the course readings and any other class handouts will be posted on the above web address.  All assignments will be submitted via Blackboard.


Academic Integrity:


Familiarize yourself with Wesleyan’s Student Code of Conduct.  Academics are not only devoted to learning, research, and the advancement of knowledge, but also to the development of ethically sensitive and responsible persons. By accepting membership in this class, you are joining a community characterized by free expression, free inquiry, honesty, respect for others, and participation in constructive change.  All rights and responsibilities exercised within this academic environment shall be compatible with these principles. 


Academic Dishonesty is a breach of the Student Code of Conduct.  Dishonesty includes:

  1. Plagiarism, representing the work of another as one's own work;
  2. Preparing work for another that is to be used as that person's own work;
  3. Cheating by any method or means;
  4. Knowingly and willfully falsifying or manufacturing scientific or educational data and representing the same to be the result of scientific or scholarly experiment or research;
  5. Knowingly furnishing false information to a university official relative to academic matters;
  6. Soliciting, aiding, abetting, concealing, or attempting conduct in violation of this code.


Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course. Any offense will result in an F in the class (not simply on the assignment) and be referred to the appropriate academic officials for adjudication. If you have any questions regarding this subject please see me.  For a detailed description and further clarification, please see the link for “Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty” on my website, the 2015-2017 Wesleyan Catalog (p. 74), or the Student Handbook.



  • Education is a privilege not a right. 
  • I facilitate learning.  The burden of learning is always on you.
  • Courtesy. Unless used to retrieve relevant online documents, turn your cell phones and other mobile devices off and put them away.  I reserve the right to confiscate any mobile device that disrupts the learning environment.  If there is an issue that necessitates corresponding electronically or receiving a call during class time, do not come (this should not be regarded as a reason to skip class).
  • Since much of the class material can be related to current events (national and international), you are expected to have a sense of what’s going on (i.e. headline news).  This, by the way, is one mark of an “educated” person.


My Goal in teaching this class is that you develop an understanding of English history from 1688 from multiple perspectives.  In our class, ideas will hold precedence over facts, dates, and the like.  History is NOT about memorization of factual information but a discipline that analyzes, interprets and creates an account of the past.  Visiting sites associated with class content in May will deepen your understanding and increase your sense of the relevance of the past.  It is important that you consider the classroom and group time on the trip open forums for discussion—of anything related to the themes and topics of the course.  (Of course, any argument—whether spoken or written—must be supported.)  While I (or other students) may challenge beliefs/perspectives, realize that the purpose is not to change them.  That said, an open/tolerant attitude is essential in this class.  Remember—this is a college course where you ought to be able to discuss things openly and intelligently.  If you choose to be intolerant and interrupt discussion, I reserve the right to ask you to leave.


Historians strive to be objective.  Therefore, for the purposes of this class regarding the religious and political beliefs that are held by the various groups we will examine, all are equally valid.  That is, while faith and organized religion as well as political beliefs certainly affected the period, we will avoid arguments that suggest one group or religion has any more claim to absolute “Truth” than another.


Small Print:


Texas Wesleyan Policies: Students should read the current Texas Wesleyan University Catalog and Student Handbook to become familiar with University policies. These policies include, but are not limited to academic integrity, grade appeal, sexual harassment. Student access to records, and others; policies specified in the current catalog are applicable unless otherwise stated in this syllabus.


Disability Policy:  Texas Wesleyan University adheres to a disability policy which is in keeping with relevant federal law. The University will provide appropriate accommodation as determined by the Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Michael Ellison.  Students must notify instructors of any permanent or temporary disabilities and must provide documentation regarding those disabilities prior to the granting of an accommodation.  For assistance, students should consult with Dr. Ellison.


Repeating Courses: Any course taken at Texas Wesleyan University and repeated for a grade must be repeated at Texas Wesleyan University. Any course taken at another institution may be repeated at Texas Wesleyan, and the most recent grade on the course will be counted. When a course is repeated, the grade point average will be computed using the most recent grade achieved.


Syllabus Disclaimer: Note: Course syllabi are intended to provide students with basic information concerning the course. The syllabus can be viewed as a “blueprint” for the course; changes in the syllabi can be made and students will be informed of any substantive changes concerning examinations, the grading or attendance policies and changes in project assignments.


Unified Discrimination and Harassment Reporting (Including Title IX):

As noted in the catalog under the Unified Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Texas Wesleyan University is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and sexual harassment.  If you have experienced any such discrimination or harassment, including gender- or sex-based forms, know that help and support are available from the following resources:

                             Complete online incident report at https://txwes.edu/student-life/report-a-concern/

                             Contact Campus Conduct Hotline (24 hours a day): (866) 943-5787

                             Campus security (24 hours a day): (817) 531-4911

                             Dean of Students: deanofstudents@txwes.edu OR (817) 531-4872

Please be aware that all Texas Wesleyan University employees, other than designated confidential resources (i.e., Community Counseling Center) are required to report credible evidence of prohibited discrimination or harassment to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, or to one of the Title IX Assistant Coordinators.  If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, please contact the Community Counseling Center at (817) 531-4859 to schedule an appointment



Book Review Format


1.            5-6 pages typewritten, double-spaced.  Title page, if used, does NOT count.  Observe the normal rules of writing such as standard one-inch margins, page numbering, etc. 

2.            Full bibliographic citation on the title page or at the top of the first page.  (Consult an MLA or Chicago style guide if you’ve forgotten how to do this.  Do NOT make up your own form.)

3.            Brief introduction to the topic or subject of the book.  Why is this topic or subject important to the period of history being covered?

4.            Summarize the author’s thesis (argument) and main points concisely but fully.  (What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by writing the book?)

5.            Critique the book.  (What you’re doing is analogous to what happens in a courtroom. Consider yourself the judge and the author a lawyer who has presented an argument/case.  It’s up to you, having listed to his argument/case to decide whether or not her claims have validity.)  Based on your answer to #4 do you find his/her arguments and conclusions convincing?  How does s/he do in terms of accomplishing his purpose for writing?  Do not walk fences or resort to elementary tactics such as pleading ignorance.  (This should be about one-half of your paper.)

(5a. If the book is a work of literature, you’ll still consider what the author is trying to accomplish, but you’ll need to think about what the work says about the time period or place in which it’s set, the characters, the environment, etc.)

6.            While a review does not usually include the readers own opinion, you may provide a brief personal evaluation of no more than one paragraph.  Be sure to explain and support your opinion carefully and coherently.  At this point in your academic career, you ought to have an informed opinion. 

7.            This is not a research paper, so formal footnoting is not necessary.  If you do quote or draw on information that is not your own, simply use a parenthetical reference according to Turabian/Chicago style. 

8.            Papers which are turned in after the time they are due will be penalized one letter grade for each day.  No papers which are more than four days late will be accepted.  If you or someone close to you is looking like they’re coming down with the latest disease or that they might need emergency surgery, turn it in early.  If you want mercy, pray.



Tentative Class Topic and Reading Schedule

               (SS=Smith and Smith Reader)


Jan 17


The Challenge of Spain and African Slavery

Jan 24

Background: Glorious Revolution 1688 and The Enlightenment

Readings:  Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan"; John Locke, "On the Origin of Government"; Anonymous Jacobite, Observations Upon the Late Revolution in England; The Bill of Rights, The Act of Settlement

Jan 31

England and Europe

The War of Spanish Succession

The Building of Empire

Readings:  Ferguson 1

Feb 7

England’s Industrial Revolution

Readings: Daniel Defoe, Rural Industry, London; Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations; Fielding, An Inquiry Into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers; Paley, The Balanced Constitution of England

Feb 14

The American and French Problems

Readings: Ferguson 2; All Selections in SS Chapter 5; Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Paine, The Rights of Man, Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Feb 21

Reaction and Reform: Liberals and Conservatives

Modern Welfare and Marxism

Readings:  Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Owen, Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System; Yorkshire Cloth Workers, A Petition Against Scribbling Machines; Kay, The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes … in Manchester; Ure, The Philosophy of Manufacturers; Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England; Marx, “Communist Manifesto” (selections); Mill, The Subjection of Women; Lord Ashley, The Subjection of Women; Wilson, The First Half of the Nineteenth Century: Progress of the Nation and the Race

Feb 28

The Politics of Disraeli and Gladstone

Victorianism and its Skeptics

The Philosophy of Imperialism and India

Readings:  Ferguson 3, 4; Joseph Chamberlain, “The White Man’s Burden”; Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden”; Linton, The Girl of the Period; Taine, English Womanhood; All selections in SS Chapter 9

March 7

Midterm Essay Due

Empire in Africa

Readings: Ferguson 5; All selections in SS Chapter 12

March 21

Britain as a Globalizing Force: Pax Britannica

Workers, Waifs and Women

Readings: Blatchford, Merrie England; Shaw, Report on Fabian Policy, Chamberlain, Tariff Reform and Unemployment; Churchill, Liberalism and Socialism; George, The New Liberalism

March 28

The Great War

Readings: Ferguson 6 (245-279); Wilfred Owen (poetry selections); All selections in SS Chapter 14; Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

April 4

Catch-up on the Irish Problem

Readings: All selections in SS Chapter 11

April 11

Post-war England and the Depression

Readings: All selections in SS Chapter 15

April 18

The Coming of World War II

Readings:  Ferguson 6 (279-295); Hitler, Hossbach Memorandum, Operation Green, My Last Territorial Demand; Chamberlain, Letter to His Sister, Statement to the House of Commons, Meditation in Czechoslovakia; Diary Entries, Radio Speech to the British People, In Defense of the Munich Agreement; The Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration

April 25

England in World War II

Britain and the Welfare State

Readings:  Churchill, In Criticism of the Munich Agreement, Britain Stands Alone; Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial

May 2

The End of Britannia and its Consequences

Readings: Ferguson 6 (295-317); Attlee, The End of British Rule in India; Churchill, A Protest Against Britain’s “Shameful Flight” from India; Macmillan, The Wind of Change; Levin, Run It Down the Flagpole

May 9

Final Essay Due (7pm)