Past and Present: Resistance and History (V1430)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

There has been a contemporary resurgence of interest in the notion of resistance, whether that is associated with popular participation in recent movements for revolution and regime change around the world, or in protests sparked by the recent financial and economic crisis. This module accordingly places the idea of resistance in historical perspective, employing it as a historical category through which it is possible to analyse critical moments of change and transformation in the past. It considers resistance as a mode around which social movements have coalesced, as a means to understand struggles for power within certain social configurations, and as a pattern which can dramatically shape the texture of interactions in everyday life, or the human relationship to the environment.

The module begins by considering certain classic examples of resistance, including organising against the occupier in Europe during the Second World War and the resistance of colonised peoples to imperial power (for example during the decolonisation of Africa and Indochina). It then extends the paradigm to consider how resistance can shape the experiences of everyday life, including the concept of resistant youth subcultures, the mobilising of resistance through cultural forms such as music and art, resistance as a mode of survival under totalitarian regimes (for example in Eastern Europe during the Cold War), and resistance as a conservative mode of action, examining white resistance to civil rights in the southern US, and resistance to new technologies in community and environmental activism.

Finally, the module broadens the theme of resistance as a means to understand the relationship between humans and their environment, looking for example at how responses to natural disasters have shaped ideas of human resilience and endurance, or at how modern Western ideas of masculine heroism were shaped by ideas of resisting the overwhelming forces of nature (for example in the identities of polar explorers of the 19th and 20th centuries)

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: