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Modern History

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Bismarck And The Second Reich

In the middle of the 19th century, the idea of the unification of Germany became a huge popular movement. The declining nobility opposed it, but it gave Prussia the opportunity to enlarge its power base and for Bismarck to emerge as the architect of the Second Reich. We will trace the remarkable career of this most powerful man of half a century,... [More]

Portraits of Russia: Rublëv, Pushkin, Turgenev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky

This course, focussed on the life and work of some of Russia’s most outstanding personalities, will begin with the work of Andrey Rublëv, Russia’s most famous icon painter, and his circle, and the Byzantine background to Russian iconography. Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, and his immortal poem ‘Yevgeny Onegin’ will be the subject of the... [More]

How The British Empires Changed The World

At its peak, in the 1930s, the second British Empire included more than a quarter of the world’s population in its dominions, colonies, protectorates and mandates on all six continents. It was the largest empire in the history of the world. It was contiguous, like the great empires before it, but was held together by the Royal Navy, by the English... [More]

British India - Fact and Fiction

From European fascination with the Orient through to the formation of the East India Company, and from the growth of Empire during the nineteenth century and its demise in the twentieth century, the history of British India will be explored. As this topic has attracted some of the best writers the English speaking world has known, the participants... [More]

A History of China

This course looks at the development of China through the ages and at the basics of Chinese civilization and culture, but focuses more on modern times. We discuss the rise of China to be the most technologically advanced country in the world and then its decline and humiliation by European powers. The fall of the last traditional dynasty in 1912... [More]

Hell on Earth - Norfolk Island's Convict Story

Norfolk Island, a ‘paradise’ in the South Pacific was as a dumping ground for the worst criminals of the colonial system and allowed the terrible abuses of penal servitude to flourish unrestrained. The island, now in the hands of the gentle Pitcairners, still bears the scars of that terrible time. This course will provide a window into this period... [More]

Portraits of Scandinavia: Norway and Denmark

The cold lands of the far north have in fact produced inspiring examples of music, drama, art and philosophy to match the best of the more famous cultures of France and Italy. Explore the genius of Norway and Denmark by examining the works of Ludvig Holberg (founder of the Danish National Theatre), Hans Christian Andersen, the philosopher... [More]

Emigrate or Die! The Great Irish Famine

The Great Famine devastated Ireland between 1845 and 1850 taking the lives of up to one and a half million people, and forcing another two million to leave Ireland forever. This famine driven tide of immigrants had great and lasting repercussions within the countries in which they settled. This course examines the magnitude of the disaster by... [More]

The Middle East, Past and Present

To even begin to understand the turmoil in the Middle East today – the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, and elsewhere – we need to know more than most of us do about its geography and its violent history. We also need to understand how much the peoples of the Middle East have in common, including their concerns for land and... [More]

Rebellious Females

This course will study the biographies of six ‘rebellious females’ who all rebelled in their own way. The lives of these extraordinary women will be explored from both the historical and sociological perspective, providing some interesting insights into the nature of the societies in which they all lived, ranging from the 18th to the mid-20th... [More]