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Introduction to British Cultural History

Class at Faculty of Arts |



This unit will introduce students to the changing aspects of British culture through the ages and across a range of genres and styles. Working from a selection of historical and fictional writings, fine art practice and contemporary video material (feature films and documentaries), the seminars have been planned to reveal relationships

(differences and continuities) between key periods from the Anglo-Saxon to the early twentieth century. The aim is always to establish links with the present and to trace the historical roots of the image(s) and make-up of contemporary Britain.

Topics include: Anglo-Saxons, Normans and the "Ivanhoe" myth, Christianity and church architecture, castle- building in Wales, the Elizabethan world order and the presentation of Queen Elizabeth I, the ambivalent heritage of Cromwell, the satire of Hogarth, the green and pleasant land and gardening, Constable as a national icon, the workshop of the world and Turner, the aesthetic movement, the empire and its aftermath (Kipling, Forster, Lean and heritage film), the Great War.

NOTE: As a BA elective course this is open primarily to 3rd year students of English and American Studies who have already passed the British History exam. It is NOT open to Erasmus students.


Texts for classroom discussion are provided by the teacher in the form of a reading packet (texts available online - see MOODLE for the course - under Course materials) and hand-outs. They include selections from a variety of literary and non- literary matter, e.g. The Battle of Maldon, Morte D'Arthur, Pepys’ Diary, Ruskin’s essays, Kipling’s poetry, Dickens’

Dombey and Son, etc. Further supplementary audio-visual material will be brought in.


Credit requirements include:

- active participation in discussion,

- a maximum of three absences,

- at least two successful (out of overall maximum three attempts; no resubmissions are possible) smaller pieces of written work (home assignments submitted in person), conditions, individual topics and dates are specified in the file List of Topics.