Professor Richard Bell, Department of History

This study-abroad course will focus on the people, places, and policies that shaped the development of the British Empire, the single largest trans-cultural phenomenon in the world since 1500. During visits to political and cultural sites in London, Bristol, and Liverpool, you will examine how ideology, migration, technology and resistance shaped the expansion and eventual retrenchment of British imperial power in the Atlantic world and the Indian sub-continent. With the nations capital as our classroom, you will explore the complex workings and legacies of the British Empire from the perspective of its nerve center. The curriculum will illuminate the experience of the empire for subjects both in the colonies and the metropole and will pay particular attention to the maritime origins of empire, the lives of black Britons and the abolition of slavery, and the rise and fall of the British in India. Site visits will often be accompanied by presentations and class exercises. In the final week, you will prepare a presentation about the public memory of British imperialism. Final course grades will also include substantial weighting for class participation.

From the curry houses of East London to the city’s surviving docklands to the National Portrait Gallery and the Samuel Johnson House, you will be out and about every day. In total, you will spend 16 nights in London, as well as 2 nights in Bristol and 3 nights in Liverpool, the two port cities most closely associated with British naval power  and with British involvement in the slave trade.

You will stay in apartment and hostel accommodation (wifi and laundry included) in the heart of these three great cities, and will travel by express train between them.