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Britons: Forging and Sentimentalizing the Nation

Dozent/in

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Zeit/Ort n.V.:

  • Mi 16:15-17:45, Raum C 601

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches

- BA English and American Studies: Hauptmodul A (301) Literature/Culture (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul II) – HA
- Lehramt Englisch an Gymnasien: Hauptmodul L-GYM Literature. (Zu-lassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul Literature) – HA (80 %)
- MA English Studies: Core Module: Culture (module 4031, exam 40311: Written assignment (15 pages, 80%) and handout (2–3 pages, 20%))
- MA English Studies: Core Module: Literature (module 4051, exam 40511: Written assignment (15 pages, 80%) and handout (2–3 pages, 20%))
- MA English Studies: Master Module II: Culture (module 8350, exam 83501: Written assignment (15 pages, 80%) and handout (2–3 pages, 20%))
- MA English Studies: Master Module II: Literature (module 8360, exam 83601: Written assignment (15 pages, 80%) and handout (2–3pages, 20%))
- MA Literaturstudien – intermedial und interkulturell: Modul 4

Inhalt

Taking our cue from Linda Colley’s classic study |Britons| (1992), we will explore how Wales, Scotland and England joined together and forged a new 'British' identity which now coexists uneasily with more localized identities, but specifically with 'Englishness'. This imagined community of 'Britons' involves, in the late 18th century, revised constructions of 'national identity' and what is considered the ‚national character‘ of the people. According to Harold Perkin, "[b]etween 1780 and 1850 the English ceased to be one of the most aggressive, brutal, rowdy, outspoken, riotous, cruel and bloodthirsty nations in the world and became one of the most inhibited, polite, orderly, tender-minded, prudish and hypocritical" (|The Origins of |Modern English Society, 1780-1880|). This shift still informs current stereotypes (such as 'stiff upper lip', 'gentlemanly behavior', but perhaps also football hooliganism). We will explore representations of such identity positions in texts ranging from Shakespeare’s |Henry V| to James Bond films.
We will also consider perceived challenges to dominant 'national characteristics', such as a 'sentimentalization' of British public life (e.g. in reaction to Princess Diana's death and her funeral in September 1997) - but also the sentimental strain that runs through British life. It can be traced in ‚Victorian Sentimentalities‘ (e.g. in Dickens), sentimental representations of Queen Victoria, sentimental men in novels of the late 19th century and the sentimentalism of Bollywood in Britain. It also informs forms of social organization in Britain - including concepts of 'class' (we will look at Ealing films of the 1950s and the British New Wave and gritty 'social realism' of the 1960s and '70s) and of 'family' (ranging from representations of working-class families to the one that resides in Windsor).