Darwin. Gladstone. Disraeli. Dickens. Meet the pioneering, paradoxical Britons of the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901): [*]Through peaceful and gradual change they built one of the world's first industrial democracies—in a class-bound society with a powerful landed aristocracy and a negative view of business. [*]They gloried in a globe-spanning and relatively humanely run empire—even as it distracted them from underlying economic weaknesses that presaged Britain's 20th-century decline. [*]They were intensely sentimental—yet ignored extreme squalor and hardship in their midst. [*]They became history's first campaigners against slavery and pursued a host of reformist, often religiously inspired causes with zeal and vision—yet tolerated child labor and the Opium War. [*]They were quick to exploit new technologies, including the steam engine, cast-iron construction, and gas lighting—yet lost their economic leadership to Germany and America. [*]The Victorians created the cityscape of modern Britain—visible today except for what was destroyed by bombing in World War II—while consciously trying to re-create earlier styles. [*]They faced rapid and sweeping scientific, historical, and technological shifts—yet avoided massive upheavals that tore at other European and Atlantic societies in their day. [*]And in their trademark style, the Victorians even reformed cricket, turning it from a riotous diversion for hard drinkers and gamblers into a byword for flannel-clad decency and goodhearted fair play that crossed class lines and brought together the best features of democracy and aristocracy.
Victorian Britain: Strengths and Foibles This course is a chronological journey into the Victorian story with all its strengths and foibles and invites you to reflect on its lessons both positive and negative.
You move from the unexpected ascension to the throne of teenaged Princess Victoria in 1837 to her death in 1901 as the Boer War neared its end.
You learn about the lives of Victorian women; the situation facing working people and the rise of trade unionism; Victorian achievements in art, literature, architecture, and music; and what Leonard Woolf called "the seriousness of games" and of leisure-time activities as windows on Victorian life.
You discuss the important role played by Christianity as a force for both principled adherence to tradition and principled pursuit of change; and the influence of science and the debates over its impact that animated the Victorians.
You learn what the Victorians believed about education; the questions raised by Britain's rule over its Empire, the problems of poverty and crime; the discoveries of Victorian explorers in Africa; and more.
All in all, you will find it a remarkable tour of a remarkable age. And one of the highlights of it, as Professor Patrick N. Allitt explains, is something that never happened. [*]1. The Victorian Paradox [*]2. Victoria’s Early Reign—1837-1861 [*]3. The Industrial Revolution—1750-1830 [*]4. Railways and Steamships [*]5. Parliamentary Reform and Chartism [*]6. The Upper- and Middle-Class Woman [*]7. The Working-Class Woman [*]8. The State Church and Evangelical Revival [*]9. The Oxford Movement and Catholicism [*]10. Work and Working-Class Life [*]11. Poverty and the “Hungry Forties” [*]12. Ireland, Famine, and Robert Peel [*]13. Scotland and Wales [*]14. Progress and Optimism [*]15. China and the Opium War [*]16. The Crimean War—1854-1856 [*]17. The Indian Mutiny—1857 [*]18. Victorian Britain and the American Civil War [*]19. The British in Africa—1840-1880 [*]20. Victorian Literature I [*]21. Art and Music [*]22. Science [*]23. Medicine and Public Health [*]24. Architecture [*]25. Education [*]26. Trade Unions and the Labour Party [*]27. Crime and Punishment [*]28. Gladstone and Disraeli—1865-1881 [*]29. Ireland and Home Rule [*]30. Democracy and Its Discontents [*]31. The British in Africa—1880-1901 [*]32. Later Victorian Literature [*]33. Leisure [*]34. Domestic Servants [*]35. Victoria After Albert—1861-1901 [*]36. The Victorian Legacy