Forging National Culture and Identity (MA lecture)

Course information


Forging National Culture and Identity [MA lecture]


Cora Zoltán

Course code



3302-es terem (Angol szeminárium)


Hétfő, 16:00–18:00

Course description

Short description

The objective of the course is to offer a survey and analysis of the major issues, trends and processes of the formation of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and British national identities and cultures in the modern age. According to Linda Colley, British national identity as such emerged between 1707 and 1837. However, Britishness could not be understood as a holistic concept, since Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England all had distinctive identities. The vital factors promoting Britishness include the unifying forces of Protestantism, the institutional changes in Welsh, Scottish and Irish parliamentary representation, the development of transport, urbanization, trade, national market formation and colonial as well as later imperial expansion. Moreover, the formation of any national identity has the prerequisites of the growth of literacy, the rise of the reading public, and the emergence of the national press. At the same time, the emergence of national identities cannot be simply explained as a socio-political by-product of modernisation, since they often incorporate essential elements of ethnic identities as well that are built on the vertical and horizontal extensions of different ethnic cores and their prevalent socio-cultural characteristics. Therefore, the lecture will discuss various theoretical approaches of nationalism and national identity and test and apply them to the formation of British national identity. Besides theories of primordialists (Renan, Disraeli) and modernists (Breuilly, Hobsbawm, Gellner, Anderson), the lecture will examine more recent theories of nationalism and national identity ranging from ethnicist / symbolist perspectives (Anthony D. Smith) to transnationalism (Selby, Connell, White). Relying on contemporary texts and documents the discussion of the antecedents and the consequences of the unifying forces promoting British national identity allows us to realize and have insights into the complexities of these issues and processes, since they cannot be understood without studying such issues as ’the condition of England’ (Dickens, Carlyle, Mrs Gaskell) the concept of the “two Englands” of the rich and the poor (Disraeli), the changing status of different social groups and ethnicity (John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, Thomas Hardy, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Matthew Arnold), Britishness and European identity, the colonizer and the colonized (Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster). Last but not least, the course helps students understand the current scholarly debates about the formation of national identities.


1. The research into theories of nation and nationalism

2. Theories I: primordialists

3. Theories II: modernists

4. Theories III: ethnicists and symbolists

5. Forging the British Nation I: from premodern to modern times

6. Forging the British Nation II: the Anglo-Saxon model of nationhood

7. Forging the British Nation III: Victorian Britain

8. Nationalism on the rise: the Celtic Revival and England

9. Devolution in Wales

10. Devolution in Scotland

11. The Irish question

12. Globalisation and the British nation state


Requirements to get the grade

The course concludes with an oral exam, but students have to take a pre-exam test to be completed on the day of the exam (a test that one has to pass in order to take the exam). In order to complete the course, students are also required to submit a book review of a chosen work not later than 8 May.

Reading list

Altick, Richard D. Victorian People and Ideas. New York and London: Norton, 1983.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso, 2006.

Colley, Linda. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837. London: Pimlico. 2003.

Connell, Liam: “Scottish Nationalism and the Colonial Vision of Scotland”, Postcolonial Studies. 6:2 (2004), 252-263.

Guibernau, Montserrat. Nations Without States: Political Communities in a Global Age. Cambridge, Polity Press, 1999.

Guy, Josephine M. (ed.) The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. London: Routledge. 2002.

Kumar, Krishan. The Making of English National Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Leersen, Joep. “Englishness, Ethnicity and Matthew Arnold”, European Journal of English Studies 10:1 (2006): 63-79.

Milsted, David (ed) Brewer’s Anthology of England and the English. London: Cassell, 2003.

Renan, Ernest: Mi a nemzet? In: Eszmék a politikában: a nacionalizmus. (Szerk. Bretter Zoltán – Deák Ágnes), Pécs: Tanulmány, 1995.

Robbins, Keith. Great Britain: Identities, Institutions, and the Idea of Britishness, The Present and the Past. New York: Longman, 1997.

Selby, Jan: “Edward W. Said: Truth, Justice and Nationalism”, in: Interventions.8:1 (2006), 40-55.

Smith, Anthony D.: Nationalism and Modernism. A Critical Survey of Recent Theories of Nations and Nationalism. London: Routledge, 1998.

Tucker, Herbert F. (ed.) A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

White, Timothy J: “Modeling the Origins and Evolution of Postcolonial Politics: The Case of Ireland”, Postcolonial Text. 3:3 (2007), 13p.


Ahier, John. Industry, Children, and the Nation: An Analysis of National Identity in School Textbooks. London; New York: Falmer Press, 1988.

Anwar, Muhammad, Patrick Roach, Ranjit Sondhi, and Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations (Economic and Social Research Council). From Legislation to Integration?: Race Relations in Britain, Migration, Minorities, and Citizenship. New York: Macmillan Press, 2000.

Barczewski, Stephanie L. Myth and National Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Breuilly, John. Nationalism and the State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Burton, Antoinette M. After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation. Durham, [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2003.

Chapman, James. Past and Present: National Identity and the British Historical Film, Turner Classic Movies British Film Guides. London ­– New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Claydon, Tony ­– Ian McBride. Protestantism and National Identity: Britain and Ireland, C. 1650-C. 1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Codell, Julie F. Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

Davis, Leith. Music, Postcolonialism, and Gender: The Construction of Irish National Identity, 1724-1874. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.

Doll, Peter M. Revolution, Religion, and National Identity: Imperial Anglicanism in British North America, 1745-1795. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000.

Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983.

Greenfeld, Liah. Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. Cambridge (USA) and London (UK): Harvard University Press, 1992.

Hechter, Michael. Containing Nationalism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Hobsbawm, Eric J. Nations and Nationalism Since 1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Hoenselaars, A. J. Images of Englishmen and Foreigners in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: A Study of Stage Characters and National Identity in English Renaissance Drama, 1558-1642. London: Associated University Presses, 1992.

Hooson, David J. M. Geography and National Identity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

Hunt, Tamara L. Defining John Bull: Political Caricature and National Identity in Late Georgian England. Burlington, V.T.: Ashgate, 2003.

Johnson, Robert: British Imperialism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Kántor Zoltán: Nacionalizmus elméletek: szöveggyűjtemény. Budapest: Rejtjel, 2006.

Langford, Peter. Englishness Identified; Manners and Character 1650-1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Littler, Jo ­– Naidoo, Roshi. The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of “Race”, Comedia. London: Routledge, 2005.

Loughlin, James. Ulster Unionism and British National Identity since 1885. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Murdoch, Alexander. British History, 1660-1832: National Identity and Local Culture, British Studies Series. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Noakes, Lucy. War and the British: Gender, Memory and National Identity, [Social and Cultural History Today]. London ­– New York: I.B. Tauris, 1998.

Nowell-Smith ­– Geoffrey, Steven Ricci ­– British Film Institute. Hollywood and Europe: Economics, Culture, National Identity, 1945-95, Ucla Film and Television Archive Studies in History, Criticism, and Theory. London: BFI Publishing, 1998.

Nyman, Jopi. Imagining Englishness: Essays of the Representation of National Identity in Modern British Culture. 1. painos ed, Joensuun Yliopiston Yhteiskuntatieteellisièa Julkaisuja = University of Joensuu, Publications in Social Sciences, N:O 73. Joensuu: University of Joensuu, 2005.

Pope, Robert. Religion and National Identity: Wales and Scotland C. 1700-2000. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2001.

Richards, Jeffrey. Films and British National Identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Robertson, Margaret, and Michael Williams. Young People, Leisure and Place: Cross Cultural Perspectives. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, 2004.

Rose, Sonya O. Which People's War? National Identity and Citizenship in Britain, 1939-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Samuel, Raphael. Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity, History Workshop Series. London: Routledge, 1989.

Scriven, Michael ­– Emily Roberts. Group Identities on French and British Television. New York: Berghahn Books, 2003.

Shaffer, Brian W. A Companion to the British and Irish Novel 1945-2000, Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005.

Smith, Anthony D.: National Identity. London: Penguin, 1991.

Smith, Anthony D. Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995.

Smith, Chris, and Michael Jacobs. Creative Futures, Fabian Pamphlet, 583. London: Fabian Society, 1997.

Steffen, Lisa. Defining a British State: Treason and National Identity, 1608-1820. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Taylor, John A. Diana, Self-Interest, and British National Identity. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.

———. Popular Literature and the Construction of British National Identity, 1707-1850. San Francisco: International Scholars Publications, 1997.

Turner, Katherine. British Travel Writers in Europe, 1750-1800: Authorship, Gender, and National Identity, Studies in European Cultural Transition; 10. Burlington, V.T.: Ashgate, 2001.

Weight, Richard. Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000. London: Pan, 2003.

———. Patriots: National Identity in Britain, 1940-2000. London: Macmillan, 2002.

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Március 15-e alkalmából a Szegedi Tudományegyetem Bölcsészettudományi Karának két professzora (Barna Gábor és Felföldi László) is Magyar Érdemrend Tisztikereszt polgári tagozat kitüntetést vett át.