Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG483H1F  L0101   T3-5
Britain and the World 1900-1960
Professor Max Uphaus

Brief Description of Course: In the last few years, Britain’s national identity, its openness to immigration, and its relationship to the rest of the world have become newly pressing questions, both in Britain and across the globe. Many of the issues surrounding Britain’s perception of its place in the wider world that have flared up in recent years stem from British history and culture between 1900 and 1960. The transformations of this period, which began with Britain reaching the high tide of its global expansion and ended with the first great wave of immigration into Britain from its former or soon-to-be-former colonies, brought Britain to the world and the world to Britain in an unprecedented variety of ways: the outward voyages of British colonial administrators, business people, soldiers, sailors, settlers, and tourists were matched and then exceeded by the voyages in of people from throughout the British Empire, and beyond it, set in motion by the waxing and waning of British imperial power. This course will explore some of the literature produced by the many voyages out of and into Britain during this period. We will study a variety of literary representations of the encounters that resulted from these voyages, juxtaposing accounts of Britons venturing abroad with portrayals of the migrant experience in Britain from a wide range of perspectives and with different depictions of an increasingly multicultural Britain. By tracing the ideas about Britishness and Britain’s relationship with the world that emerge from these works, we will seek to better understand the roots of today’s debates surrounding these topics. In addition, by putting canonical British modernists in dialogue with some of their global contemporaries, the course will explore the potential of the on-going turn in modernist studies away from a one-sided picture of modernism expanding outwards from a Euro-American hub and towards a vision of a variety of global modernisms interacting with and affecting one another in the more deeply interconnected world of the early twentieth century.

Required Reading: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and “Amy Foster”; Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out; Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark; E. M. Forster, A Passage to India; Mulk Raj Anand, Across the Black Waters; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land; Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners.

First Three Authors/Texts: Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Conrad, “Amy Foster”; Woolf, The Voyage Out.

Method of Instruction: Seminar.

Method of Evaluation: Two short essays (15% each), final paper (30%), group presentation (10%), participation (30%).

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