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Introduction to British Studies / for Erasmus students

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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Zimní semestr: 1. Introductory session 1. Introduction. Syllabus. 2. Perceptions and representations of Britain. 2. Representations of Britain - nation, country 1. Perceptions and representations of Britain - stereotypes, allegorical images. 2. Englishness or Britishness? 3. Representations of Britain - nation, country

Scotland, Wales 4. Eire and Northern Ireland 1. Ireland's Story 2. poetic representations - Ireland and the Irish 5. Representations of Britain - region 6. Multicultural Britain - race and ethnicity 1. The legacy of the Empire? Immigration, ethnic distribution 2. Representations 7. Class

Beyond the class system? Class markers. 8. Language and accent.

Regional accents. Varieties of English 9. Education. 1. Primary and secondary schooling. 2. Universities 10. Government and politics. 1. Parliament and its reforms 2. The party system. 3. The Royal Family. 11. Media 1. The press - newspapers and magazines 2. Television 12. Conclusion. Test.

Letní semestr:


* Introduction

The beginnings: Anglo-Saxon Britain, The Battle of Maldon

* Christianity and the Middle Ages: The state of Christianity

* a/illuminated manuscripts - Chi Rho page from The Book of Kells b/the Norman Conquest - The Bayeux Tapestry

* Medieval Britain I: the Gothic Style a/the great churches; vocabulary b/Looking at a castle

* Medieval Britain II: the age of chivalry; Arthurian legends a/T.Malory - Morte Darthur b/ Tennyson - from The Passing of Arthur (Idylls of the King) c/Glastonbury and the New Age - Wessex Man

* Tudors and the Renaissance a/Shakespeare, Bacon and Tillyard on world order b/images of Elizabeth - the portraits; Elizabeth (video) c/ The Queen who still rules us

* Puritans and the Civil War a/Cromwell (video); Britain's very own Taliban b/ The King's last hours

* Restoration and Augustan England a/the Great Fire, Fever & Fire (video) b/S.Pepys and J.Evelyn c/18th-century British art; Hogarth (video); Wren's buildings

* 18th and 19th century landscapes a/The Green and Pleasant Land (video) b/Constable and the nation; texts

* The Industrial Revolution a/How it felt to be British b/Dickens - Dombey and Son c/Turner d/So close and yet so despised

* The Aesthetic Movement a/ Ruskin, Rossetti, Morris; passages b/ The Pre-Raphaelites

* The Rise of the British Empire a/ from Plain Tales from the Raj b/missionaries and imperialists; Kipling, ?White Man's Burden", visual image; Don't lock the coffin; Nabobs and sahibs c/ A Passage to India (video) d/the British Commonwealth

* The Great War a/Wilfred Owen, I.Rosenberg, R.Brooke b/Britten - War Requiem (video of Jarman's film)

* Conclusion

Znojemská: 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. Anglo-Saxon England

Venerable Bede: Coming of the Angle, Saxons & Jutes (Historia Ecclesiastica I/XV)

Boniface's Letter to the English

Alfred Prose Preface to Pastoral Care

Battle of Brunanburh

Wulfstan's Sermon to the English

II. Medieval visions of Britain

Layamon: Brut

Alliterative Morte Darthur

III. Imperial dreams of Elizabethan England

Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene

IV. England in Shakespeare's history plays

William Shakespeare: Richard II, 2/1;Henry V, Prologue, 1/2, 3/1, 3/5, 4/3

V. "England's Freedom:" the time of the Civil War

Gerard Winstanley: A New Year's Gif for the Parliament and Army

VI. The English Constitution

Green, J.R.: A Short History of the English People

Walter Scott: Ivanhoe 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. Anglo-Saxons and Britons

Venerable Bede: Historia Ecclesiastica I/XV, I/XXII, II/II

II. Representing Ireland - Renaissance

Edmund Spenser: A View of the Present State of Ireland

III. Representing Scotland: Romanticism

Walter Scott: Waverley 3. Us and the Others III: The new worlds

The English in the colonies

I. Inscribing the New World

Richard Hakluyt: The Principal Navigations of the English Nation

Thomas Morton: New English Canaan

John Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

William Bradford: Of Plymouth Plantation

I. Representing the Empire

Rudyard Kipling: In the Rukh, Selected Poems



This is a course intended to develop basic study and writing skills, using textual and visual materials which give an insight into British institutions and culture. Students will be required to read, analyse and critically discuss views of contemporary Britain. In the Winter Semester topics include issues of place and identity (nationality, race, geography, class etc.), and the evolving institutions of government and politics. In the Summer students will be able to choose between these areas of study: twentieth-century British history and British cultural history.


M. Storry, P. Childs, British Cultural Identities

See the instructor's handout for a complete list of required reading.


Credit will be given on the basis of course work, attendance, successful completion of the written assignments and test. SSE students are required to submit a graded paper in addition to the above.