WiSe 13/14: S-Introduction to Cultural Studies II: Representation of Britishness in Film and Fiction, 1910 -2010
The seminar will investigate the development of the concept of "Britishness" in 20th-century film, fiction, and non-fiction. We will be reading two novels from the eventful pre-World War 1 period ... read more
The seminar will investigate the development of the concept of "Britishness" in 20th-century film, fiction, and non-fiction. We will be reading two novels from the eventful pre-World War 1 period (Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier" and Rebecca West's "The Return of the Soldier") before we turn to cinematic representations of "Britishness" before, during and after World War 2 (Michael Powell, Harry Watt, Basil Wright, Herbert Wilcox, Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, and Carol Reed). Furthermore, we will analyze non-fiction negotiations of "Britishness": Winston Churchill's "The Second World War" and Doris Lessing's "In Pursuit of the English." Finally, we will briefly look at contemporary representations of "Britishness" in 21st-century TV shows like the period drama "Downton Abbey" or the sci-fi show "Doctor Who."
The seminar will be concerned with the ways in which film, fiction, and non-fiction simultaneously both dwell on and create ideas of "Britishness." We will also investigate this question by an intermedial approach, trying to analyze which function literary classics (e.g. Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens) have for the development of British identity in films ("A Canterbury Tale," "Victoria the Great," "Henry V"). The role of other (non-British) nations for the construction of a consistent concept of "Britishness" will also be at the centre of our discussions.
Participants should purchase both novels (Ford and West) in inexpensive critical editions (preferably Penguin (West) and Norton (Ford)). Some of the films are in the public domain by now and can easily be accessed online. Please make sure that you have access to all other films through libraries or video stores, for there will be no public screenings during the seminar.
Texts & Films:
Ford Madox Ford: "The Good Soldier" (1915) - Novel , Rebecca West: "The Return of the Soldier" (1918) - Novel, Harry Watt & Basil Wright: "Night Mail" (1936) - Film, Herbert Wilcox: "Victoria the Great" (1937) - Film, Alfred Hitchcock: "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) - Film, Michael Powell: "The Spy in Black" (1939) - Film, Michael Powell: "A Canterbury Tale" (1944) - Film, Laurence Olivier: "Henry V" (1944) - Film, Carol Reed: "The Third Man" (1949) - Film, Winston Churchill: "The Second World War" (1948-55) - Non-Fiction
Doris Lessing: "In Pursuit of the English" (1961) - Non-Fiction, "Doctor Who" (1963-today) - TV show, "Downton Abbey" (2010-today) - TV show
Language: The course will be taught in English (level C1).