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literature Category

The question of 'Englishness'

What constituted ‘Englishness’ in the late 19th century, and what are the most fundamental differences with ‘Englishness’ today?
Sociology Essay

  • Assessment: Sociology Essay
  • Mark: A
  • Year: 2007
  • Wordcount: 3201

Debates over what it means to be English have taken place throughout English history. Being English today differs from being English in the late 19th century because “the ideas that informed the dominant conceptions of what was involved in ‘being English’ changed over the period” (Giles and Middleton 1995: 6). This essay aims to isolate the most significant differences between 19th and 20th century notions of ‘Englishness’. Since ‘Englishness’ has to be seen in close relation with class and gender, I will focus on the impact of the changes within these two areas in the first part of the essay. In the second part of the argument I will specifically analyse the ways in which ‘Englishness’ is rooted in 19th century Imperialism and will draw attention to the effects of the collapse of the Empire on today’s notions of ‘Englishness’. My argument will be supported by several cultural examples from 19th and 20th century literature. Literature can be seen as a “signifier of national identity and heritage” (During 2006: 138) and as such the used literary examples provide evidence that cultural representations of ‘Englishness’ draw from a generally constant stock of adapted and reworked images, ideas and beliefs.

full text:
file: Englishness_essay_MelanieKonzett.pdf [131.85KB]
Category: History
download: 6507

Past and Present in Gothic Writing

One of the persistent concerns of Gothic is the relationship between the past and the present. Isolate and discuss two different treatments of this topic in Gothic literature or film.
Literature Essay

  • Assessment: Literature Essay
  • Mark: A
  • Year: 2007
  • Wordcount: 2176

In the eighteenth century many writers and readers regarded their contemporary present as ‘modern’ and enlightened and favoured a realist literature. As a consequence, Walpole (1986: 43) argues in his second Preface to The Castle of Otranto, “the great resources of fancy have been dammed up”; or to put it in Clery’s (2006: 27) words “what the modern era had gained in civility it had lost in poetic imagination”. One way to bring life back into the culture of this time was to re-establish the connections with a barbaric, mythical and unenlightened age. In particular, the Gothic age with its name referring to the Goths , was seen by contemporary readers and authors as a time of barbarism that “stood for the old-fashioned as opposed to the modern; the barbaric as opposed to the civilised; crudity as opposed to elegance; old English barons as opposed to the cosmopolitan gentry” (Punter 1996: 5). These and similar characteristics of a forgotten age became “invested with positive value” and were perceived as “representing virtues and qualities that the ‘modern’ world needed” (Punter and Byron 2006: 7).
The aim of this paper is both, to locate and compare the relationship of the past and the present in Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto and Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, but also to investigate the ambivalent nature of this relationship. Since the Gothic is by definition “about history and geography” (Mighall 1999: xiv), I will highlight the significance of the feudal and catholic past for early Gothic writing in analysing the texts’ settings and the authors’ use of the supernatural. In doing so, I will show that, on the one hand, the past was idealised but on the other hand, also served as the barbaric ‘Other’ to the enlightened present. Hence, this essay engages with one of the underlying questions of some early Gothic texts asking “which is darker, the murky past or an apparently enlightened present”? (Cavallaro 2002: 39).

Full text:
file: PastPresent_Gothic.pdf []
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British Imperialism and culture

The significance of British Imperialism to culture
Sociology Essay

  • Assessment: Analytical exercise
  • Mark: A
  • Year: 2007
  • Wordcount: 2188

This essay contains close readings of
1) De Quincey T., Confessions of an English Opium Eater: The Malay (1822)
2) De Quincey T., Confessions of an English Opium Eater: Oriental Dreams (1822)
3) Coleridge S.T., Christable; Kubla Khan: A Vision; The Pains of Sleep: Kubla Khan (1816)

Tiffin (1995: 95) points out that more than “three quarters of the contemporary world has been directly and profoundly affected by imperialism and colonialism”. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, for instance, Britain was left in governing power over 200 million people , of whom a large proportion were Asians (Leask 1996: 235). These political developments went hand in hand with a wave of European artistic and scholarly interest in the cultures and languages of Eastern nations from about the 1760s onwards (Schwab 1996: 294-296). The increased encounter with other cultures, in person and via traveller narratives or cultural artefacts, had a deep impact on Britain’s cultural production.
Romantic poets , for example, adopted the imagery and narratives from these sources and looked to the Orient for creative and sublime inspiration but also with feelings of anxiety. Since language is one form through which thoughts and ideas are represented in a culture (Hall 2003: 1), the aim of this analytical exercise is both, to highlight the role of Romantic poetry in the construction of oriental stereotypes, and also, to investigate its significance in accordance with Said’s notion that the “Orient was almost a European invention” (Said 2004: 329). I will accomplish these aims by examining the discursive strategies employed in Romantic poetry, such as idealization of the Orient, the projection of fantasies and sexual desire as well as the drawing attention to cultural differences and the tendency to represent non-Europeans as the uncivilized and barbaric essential ‘Other’.
According to Hall (2003: 42-43) Foucault is concerned with “the production of knowledge (rather than just meaning)” through a particular discourse. Therefore…

Full text:
file: Romantics_Sociology.pdf []
Category: General
download: 1438

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