School of History

HST5218 – The World of Samuel Pepys: England, 1649-1703

Module code: HST5218

Credits: 15
Semester: SEM 1 SEM 2

Module Convenor: Patrick Higgins

Note - this module is being run twice, once in Semester 1, and once in Semester 2.

On 1 January 1660, Samuel Pepys, a young Londoner making his way in the world began a diary. Over the next 9 years and six months he maintained this daily record of his activities and opinions, alongside a chronicle of public events. This classic text has become a valuable source for understanding Britain at a turbulent moment in its history while the Stuart monarchy struggled to assert itself after the Puritan Revolution. Students will use the diary (which is online) to understand Britain during the 1660s. Some topics will be thematic (religion, the Court, London, rituals, medicine, political corruption); others will treat the great events of the decade: the restoration of Charles II, the second Dutch War, the Plague, and the Great Fire of London (1666). This a QMUL Model module that will also discuss the way diaries make sense of what it is to be human. Students discuss and evaluate social networks in both a historic and a personal context, and demonstrate the ability to communicate their findings in a clear and persuasive manner amongst their peers and within the wider community. For their first assignment, students have the opportunity either to consider the impact of public engagement on their discipline by designing a tour guide to Pepys' London, or to appraise how Pepys himself built networks through a detailed analysis of sections of his diary, or to evaluate life-writing as a form of personal narrative, using skills and techniques from literary analysis and historical criticism. By the end of the module, students will have formulated and carried out an independent research project related to the many different and over-lapping worlds of Restoration Britain.

Assessment: Essay 1 (1,000 words) [25%] and Essay 2 (3,000 words) [75%]
Level: 5