Final Exam Essay Topics
Here is the list of possible essay topics. Please share your suggestions with the rest of the class, but be sure to specify which question your comment pertains to. Feel free to ask question if you're in the dark.
On the exam itself, for the cumulative portion you will be given only one question from the two topics below, so be sure to prepare for both. On the essay from midterm forward, two of the three topics below (under the heading "Essay for the second half of the term") will appear on the test and you wil choose one to write on. That means that you only need to prepare 2 of the three topics to be sure you're covered. Remember that these are just the general topics; the actual questions on the exam might be a bit different than the wording you see here.
1) The changing meanings of and conditions of belonging in the political nation. To prepare this essay, think about who has been considered part of the nation and who has been held at a distance from the beginning of the modern era through the present. You might consider race, property, sex/gender, labor, religion among others. Also think about the methods and tools of inclusion/exclusion.
2) The expansion of English power in the isles and British power in the world from the 17th century to the present. You might want to think about the processes of decolonization, devolution, and nearing European Union as "contraction" (or implosion), but you could also analyze them more in terms of new and different (but not necessarily more limited) expressions of state power in the latter half of the 20th century.
Essay for the second half of the term:
1) The economic, social, and cultural dimensions of empire and decolonization. This is another chance to use Orwell. You might also draw on Cromer, Kipling, Lugard, Colley, Conekin, Milne, and especially the essays from British Culture and the End of Empire.
2)The invention, development and decline of the welfare state. You might prepare by starting with Pedersen's article and working forward, keeping in mind the role of war, political parties, and changing meanings of citizenship.
3)British-Irish relations and radical Irish nationalism from 1798 through the present.