British Cultural Studies in Historical Perspective

B.A. Level
Study year
Credit value
Helena Znojemská

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.

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
    Wulfstan’s Sermon to the English
ii  Layamon: Brut (selection)
    Alliterative Morte Darthur (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 attendance/active participation in class (maximum of THREE absences is tolerated), 2 successful written assignments and a presentation (MAX. 10 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.