Course overview

How do the popular representations of smuggling in novels, songs, poems, paintings and film match up to the reality of the trade on the Essex coast in the 18th century? We will look at some of the enduring romantic depictions alongside official records and reports to consider the reality of life for people up and down the Essex coast whether engaged in smuggling or the fight against it.

Course description

Each week we will look at how smuggling is represented in a range of different forms including novels, film and TV, songs, poetry and art and consider why smuggling and the fight against it has been a popular subject for these. We will explore the history of smuggling in Essex in the 18th century to find out about the goods being smuggled and why they were smuggled. We will find out who some of the smugglers were, including notorious figures and local gangs, as well as examining some of the tricks of their trade. We will think about the local coastline, creeks and backwaters to find out what made Essex well suited to smuggling and compare what happened here to smuggling activity in other coastal areas. We will also think about the impact of smuggling activity on local communities and attempts to control the trade and the particular challenges of this in Essex.

Expect slide presentations and group discussions along with suggested reading, listening and watch lists.

What financial support is available?

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