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Unit information: Napoleon (Level I Special Field) in 2016/17

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Unit name Napoleon (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST26003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Will Pooley
Open unit status Not open



HIST23008 Special Field Project

School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Few figures have been as influential as Napoleon Bonaparte, revolutionary general and Emperor of France. Rather than the man himself, however, this course focuses on how the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Empire were celebrated and attacked at the time, and since. The ‘legend of Napoleon’ has its roots in how art and visual culture, novelists, and diarists in France and beyond represented the Emperor and the Empire. This course will explore Romantic painting and literature, popular print and song culture, and first-hand accounts from British and French soldiers.

Students will learn about Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, administrative and legal reforms, religious policy, and ‘cultural imperialism’. What did people at the time think of the Empire, and its unique ‘citizen emperor’?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should have developed:

  1. a firm understanding of the causes of Napoleon’s rise to power, the nature of his rule, and the impact he had on European society
  2. an understanding of, and ability to critique, different perspectives which have been applied to Napoleon’s career and legacy
  3. an ability to form independent interpretations relating to Napoleon
  4. the capacity to express these interpretations with an eloquence appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

1 x 2 hour exam

Reading and References

  • Geoffrey Ellis, The Napoleonic Empire (Basingstoke, 1991, 2003)
  • Cummings, Frederick, Pierre Rosenberg, and Robert Rosenblum (eds.) French Painting 1774-1830: the Age of Revolution, 1975, 161-230.
  • Englund, Steven. ‘Monstre Sacré: the Question of Cultural Imperialism and the Napoleonic Empire’, The Historical Journal, 51:1, 2008, 215-250
  • Geyl, Pieter. Napoleon: For or Against. 1965.
  • Hazareesingh, Sudhir. The Legend of Napoleon. 2004
  • Stock, Paul. "Imposing on Napoleon: the Romantic Appropriation of Bonaparte", Journal of European Studies 2006 36(4): 363-388.