HIST 137
Victorian Britain and the Anglo-Afghan Wars Fall 2015 Division II; Writing-Intensive;
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Long before the US and its allies fought the recent war in Afghanistan (2001-14), Britain fought three Afghan Wars. Now almost forgotten, dusty reminders of Britain’s imperial past, they were crucial moments in the “Great Game”, the rivalry between the British and Russian empires for supremacy in Central Asia and control of land routes to British India. Largely disastrous for the British, the First Afghan War (1839-1842) resulted in the massacre of some 16,000 individuals, the second (1878-81) generated considerable domestic discord, and the third (1919) basically ended British influence in Afghan affairs. Nevertheless, they exercised the Victorian imagination and led to numerous cultural productions that will be dissected in our class: illustrated tales of British military exploits proliferated in the new mass circulation press; the children’s writer G.A. Henty turned the conflicts into the stuff of imperial adventure; Rudyard Kipling made the Great Game the backdrop for his novel, Kim; military officers, government officials, “lady travellers”, and amateur scholars all mapped the landscape and people of Afghanistan, an endless source of fascination for the Victorians. By interpreting these various forms of documentary evidence, we will not only reconstruct the history of Britain’s Afghan wars but dissect the stories Britons told themselves about their Empire and about Afghanistan and its people.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 12-15
Class#: 1527
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class discussion, several response papers and short essays (2 pages each), a book review (5 pages), and a final, source-based annotated bibliography (5 pages) and research paper (15 pages)
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: first-year or sophomore standing
Enrollment Preference: first-year students, and then sophomores who have not taken a 100-level seminar
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive;

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