'The Devil's Decade': Britain, America and the Great Slump, 1929-41
Value: one unit
Dr Emmett Sullivan
Taught through weekly two-hour seminars
3-hour exam (70%), best two of three coursework essays (20%), oral presentation (10%)
This course will review the modern literature on the causes and consequences of the Great Slump for Britain and America during the 1930s. The period of the Great Slump (1929-33) and the recovery up to the Second World War (1933-39/41) presented the greatest challenge to capitalist industrial society. Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply in to depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery. The 1930s represented a low point in the formation and application of Government policy in the west, and was blighted by the emergence, and persistence, of a new problem: long-term unemployment. At the height of the Great Slump (1932/33) a quarter of the UK working population were unemployed, and perhaps a third of the US workforce were without a job. The course will examine the economic and social history of the period from a chronological perspective: each seminar will centre on a major issue or crisis affecting one or other of the countries, or dealing with the international economic relations between the two. These topics will include the Wall Street Crash, the Dust Bowl, the New Deal, the fall of the Second Labour Government, the Ottawa Agreement and the Jarrow March, allowing the course of the depression and recovery to be examined in depth by focusing on these case studies each week.