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British Cultural Studies in Historical Perspective

Class at Faculty of Arts |



This seminar aims to introduce the students to the transformations and developments which the major concepts of British cultural studies underwent throughout the ages. Working with a wide range of primary as well as secondary texts, fiction and non-fiction, we will examine the way in which the constituent factors of the notion of a unique English national identity and later British culture emerged in and were affected by interaction with other peoples and cultures.

MATERIAL AND PROGRAMME 1. Us and the Others I: Inventing the English nation

Danish invasions, Norman Conquest and the wars on the Continent, Elizabethan Age, Civil War. The images of England and Englishness in contemporary writings and in later histories of these periods. i Venerable Bede: Coming of the Angles, Saxons & Jutes (Historia Ecclesiastica I/XV)

Alfred's Prose Preface to Pastoral Care

Battle of Brunanburh ii Layamon: Brut (selection)

Alliterative Morte Arthure (selection) iii Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene (selection) iv William Shakespeare: Richard II, 2/1

Henry V, Prologue, 1/2, 3/1, 3/5, 4/3; 3/2 v Gerard Winstanley: A New Year’s Gift for the Parliament and Army vi Green, J.R.: A Short History of the English People (selection)

Walter Scott: Ivanhoe (selection) 2. Us and the Others II: Representing the neighbours

Wales, Scotland, Ireland – from slaves of the Anglo-Saxons to noble savages of the Romanticism and beyond. i Venerable Bede: Historia Ecclesiastica I/XV, I/XXII, II/II ii Edmund Spenser: A View of the Present State of Ireland (selection) iii Walter Scott: Waverley(selection) 3. Us and the Others III: The new worlds

The English in the colonies i Richard Hakluyt: The Principal Navigations of the English Nation (selection)

Thomas Morton: New English Canaan (selection)

John Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

William Bradford: Of Plymouth Plantation (selection) ii Rudyard Kipling: In the Rukh, Selected Poems


Credit requirements include active participation in class, 2 successful written assignments (300-500 words) and a presentation (10-15 minutes) illuminating the historical/conceptual context of a given text or some of its statements. The written assignments will have the form of a critical reading test, done over the week at home.

Please see the attached syllabus file for details of this year's course.