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WWI: Society, Politics, and Poetry

WWI: Society, Politics, and Poetry

This online course is ideal preparation for students thinking of studying history at university, exploring an extremely important period of British history and encountering a range of historical methods in the process.

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Course Summary

selection of items from ww1 including old photograph and badge

The ‘Great War’ has been described as a watershed moment in British society, sweeping away the social certainties of the Edwardian period. Its literature often portrays the collision of unquestioning patriotism and idealism with the disillusioning brutality of trench warfare. In this course we will examine the impact of World War I on British society and culture, exploring in particular the politics, ideology, and literature of the time. We will consider both traditional and revisionist interpretations, discussing the enduring power of myth and literature in affecting how the war has been remembered.

Emphasis will be placed on the use of primary sources in order to supplement the lecture material and bring it to life, and the course is packed with supplementary material including audio recordings, video, image sources, enabling students to gain a firm grasp of the concepts studied whilst also developing the skills required of a modern historian.

Course Details

During the course, students will…

By the end of the course, students will be able to…

Syllabus

Tutorial 1: The World Before the War (1 - 1.5 hours)

“Never such innocence again,” wrote one poet, describing Britain before the Great War. In this tutorial we will examine the politics and culture of pre-war Britain, asking to what extent this was already a society in transition. We will also discuss the international context which led Britain into conflict.


Tutorial 2: Schooled in War (1 - 1.5 hours)

When war broke out, many men, upper-class and working-class alike, viewed the prospect as a grand adventure and an opportunity to prove themselves. In this tutorial we will discuss reactions to the outbreak of World War I, considering how they illuminate Edwardian ideologies of masculinity. We will consider the impact of the public school ethos, Imperialism as expressed in popular books and magazines, and the ‘white feather’ campaign which sought to pressure men to enlist.


Tutorial 3: Life and Death in the Trenches (1 - 1.5 hours)

What was life really like for the men in the trenches? This tutorial will focus on the ways in which wartime experience was different from that of previous wars, discussing the impact of the mechanisation of conflict, the use of poison gas, and the brutality of trench warfare. It will also briefly outline the military history of World War I, highlighting major battles and campaigns.


Tutorial 4: "Oh What a Literary War!" (1 - 1.5 hours)

It has been argued that World War I was a peculiarly ‘literary’ war, inspiring authors such as Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. In this tutorial we will discuss the war literature of the period, considering how it was shaped by wartime experience, how it reflected contemporary views of the Great War, and how it in turn has affected the way that both historians and ordinary citizens have remembered the conflict over the past century.


Key Details

Course Pre-requisites Advanced level of English
An interest and enthusiasm for history, with particular reference to European history
This course would suit students studying towards A-level History or equivalent.
Course Level For students applying to university to study history or related subjects
Difficulty Moderate
Prior Knowledge No prior knowledge is required to take this course, just enthusiasm for the subject.
Fees £29.99
Workload 4-6 hours (further independent study is encouraged)

How to Enrol

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Single License

£29.99


What's included?

  • Access to interactive course content
  • Discussion boards, exams, resources
  • Personal learning profile
  • Course certificate
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3 Month Membership

£89.99


What's included?

  • Access to all 30+ courses for 3 months
  • Interactive course content
  • Discussion boards, exams, resources
  • Personal learning profile
  • Course certificate
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6 Month Membership

£129.99


What's included?

  • Access to all 30+ courses for 6 months
  • Interactive course content
  • Discussion boards, exams, resources
  • Personal learning profile
  • Course certificate
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