21H.342 | Fall 2003 | Undergraduate

The Royal Family


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Syllabus Archive

The following syllabi come from a variety of different terms. They illustrate the evolution of this course over time, and are intended to provide alternate views into the instruction of this course.

Fall 2007, Harriet Ritvo (PDF)

Fall 2003, Harriet Ritvo (PDF)

Subject Description

An exploration of British culture and politics, focusing on the changing role of the monarchy from the accession of the House of Hanover (later Windsor) in 1714 to the present. The dynasty has encountered a series of crises, in which the personal and the political have been inextricably combined: for example, George III’s mental illness; the scandalous behavior of his son, George IV; Victoria’s withdrawal from public life after the death of Prince Albert; the abdication of Edward VIII; and the public antagonism sparked by sympathy for Diana, Princess of Wales. In addition to readings, materials include portraits, news footage, and films.

Required Texts

Griffiths, Ralph Alan, and John Ashton Cannon. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy.

Strachey, Lytton. Queen Victoria.
Townsend, Sue. The Queen and I.


There will be three formal written assignments, of 2, 4, and 10 pages. They will be due in Lecture 2, Lecture 12, and Lecture 24 respectively. Assignment sheets will be given out in class and posted on the website. The final written assignment will include a progress report due in Lecture 21 and a class presentation (see the schedule for Lecture 24 and Lecture 25).

In addition, informal response papers (1-2 pages) on the readings for each unit will be due in class on the day that the readings are discussed.

There will be no final examination.


Grading will be based on the written assignments (75% distributed according to the length of the papers) and class participation (25%).


Papers may be revised and handed in for a new grade at any time before the last class meeting. The new grade will replace the old one. Revisions should be handed in along with the marked copy of the original version. They should represent a real rethinking or recasting, not just correction of misspellings, grammatical errors, and stylistic infelicities. Revisions will be accepted until the last day of classes.

Things to Remember

Written assignments should represent original and individual work.

Assignments are to be handed in on time. If an extension becomes necessary it should be requested ahead of the due date. Otherwise, lateness will be penalized.

Attendance is important. Not all the material to be covered in class is included in the readings. Be sure to bring your copy of the readings to discussion classes.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2003