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Author: Mark Hampton

This book examines the place of Hong Kong in the British imagination between the end of World War II and the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997. It argues that Hong Kong has received far less attention from British imperial and cultural historians than its importance would warrant. It argues that Hong Kong was a site within which competing yet complementary visions of Britishness could be imagined—for example, the British penchant for trade and good government, and their role as agents of modernization. At the centre of these articulations of Britishness was the idea of Hong Kong as a “barren rock” that British administration had transformed into one of the world’s great cities—and the danger of its destruction by the impending “handover” to communist China in 1997.

The book moves freely between the activities of Britons in Hong Kong and portrayals of Hong Kong within domestic British discourse. It uses such printed primary sources as newspapers, memoirs, novels, political pamphlets, and academic texts, and archival material located in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States, and Australia, including government documents, regimental collections, and personal papers.

Postwar contexts
Mark Hampton

This chapter provides the context in which Britain’s post-war cultural engagement with Hong Kong occurred. At the end of World War II, the Colonial Government resumed control over a now depopulated city in which many buildings were in ruins. However, with civil war in mainland China, and the establishment the People’s Republic in 1949, Hong Kong saw its population explode, with many people living in ramshackle squatters’ huts. Throughout the post-war period, Hong Kong’s relationship with China was its most important one, and the Colony’s economic miracle developed against the backdrop of the expectation that China could resume sovereignty over Hong Kong at any time, but certainly by 1997 when Britain’s lease of the New Territories expired. Hong Kong was also a key site in the Cold War, serving for the United States as a post for “China-watching” and, during the Vietnam War, as a recreation spot for soldiers on leave. Hong Kong’s population and economic growth occurred against the backdrop of Britain’s decolonization, so that in the first three post-war decades, this formerly insignificant colony became Britain’s most important imperial territory. Finally, the chapter examines the types of British expatriates and settlers who lived in Hong Kong during the post-war period.

in Hong Kong and British culture, 1945–97
Editor: Stuart Ward

The demise of British imperial power in the three decades following the Second World War is a familiar theme in the study of post-war British politics, economics and foreign relations. This book is the first major attempt to examine the cultural manifestations of the demise of imperialism as a social and political ideology in post-war Britain. It stresses and strains of imperial decline were not safely contained within the realm of high politics. British governments had to steer a delicate course between a firm display of British authority and control. The book begins with an overview of the persistence of imperialism in popular culture in the post-1945 era. Although an elitist and unashamedly 'establishment' grouping, the Round Table had always been actively engaged in the wider dissemination of an imperial outlook. The Commonwealth anaesthetic was at its most effective at the time of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in June 1953. The book then examines the remarkable coincidence of the coronation and the conquest of Everest, an event that became heavily imbued with late imperial hubris. An account of the complex picture of a British theatre, post-war cultural scene, the anti-establishment sentiment, and the shortcomings of Britain's ruling elites, follows. The book also examines Britain's steadily dwindling imperial power was mirrored by the demise of English cricket. The culture of imperial decline, namely that of popular children's literature is discussed. The book talks about the nostalgic trail of post-imperial British travellers, immigration divide, and the relationship between western feminism and colonial nationalism.

What do we mean?
Andrew Smith

Modernism, Romance and the fin de siècle: Popular Fiction and British Culture, 1880-1914 by Nicholas Daly; Victorian Gothic: Literary and Cultural Manifestations in the Nineteenth Century edited by Ruth Robbins and Julian Wolfreys

Gothic Studies
Massimiliano Demata

The introduction to this collection of essays consists of a brief outline of the place of Italy and Italians in British culture as well as a summary of the topics addressed by the contributors. The Gothic novel engages with some of the commonplace assumptions associated with Italy since Shakespeare‘s time. The essays in this collection examine how Italy became a complex geographical and cultural entity based on the unprecedented historical and cultural context in which Gothic writers lived.

Gothic Studies
Making Sense of Hogg‘s Body of Evidence
Joel Faflak

This paper explores the occult relationship between modern psychoanalysis and the pre-Freudian psychoanalysis of James Hogg‘s 1824 Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Haunted by the ghosts of Mesmerism and of Calvinisms rabidly contagious religious fervour, Hogg‘s novel explodes post-Lockean paradigms of the subject for a post-Romantic British culture on the eve of the Empire. Turning back to Scotland‘s turbulent political and religious history, the novel looks forward to the problems of Empire by turning Locke‘s sense-making and sensible subject into the subject of an unconscious ripe for ideological exploitation, a subject mesmerized by the process of making sense of himself.

Gothic Studies
Swedish Sex Education in 1970s London
Adrian Smith

In 1974 the British Board of Film Censors refused to grant a certificate to the Swedish documentary More About the Language of Love (Mera ur Kärlekens språk, 1970, Torgny Wickman, Sweden: Swedish Film Production), due to its explicit sexual content. Nevertheless, the Greater London Council granted the film an ‘X’ certificate so that it could be shown legally in cinemas throughout the capital. This article details the trial against the cinema manager and owners, after the film was seized by police under the charge of obscenity, and explores the impact on British arguments around film censorship, revealing a range of attitudes towards sex and pornography. Drawing on archival records of the trial, the widespread press coverage as well as participants’ subsequent reflections, the article builds upon Elisabet Björklund’s work on Swedish sex education films and Eric Schaefer’s scholarship on Sweden’s ‘sexy nation’ reputation to argue that the Swedish films’ transnational distribution complicated tensions between educational and exploitative intentions in a particularly British culture war over censorship.

Film Studies
Author: Mike Huggins

This book provides a detailed consideration of the history of racing in British culture and society, and explores the cultural world of racing during the interwar years. The book shows how racing gave pleasure even to the supposedly respectable middle classes and gave some working-class groups hope and consolation during economically difficult times. Regular attendance and increased spending on betting were found across class and generation, and women too were keen participants. Enjoyed by the royal family and controlled by the Jockey Club and National Hunt Committee, racing's visible emphasis on rank and status helped defend hierarchy and gentlemanly amateurism, and provided support for more conservative British attitudes. The mass media provided a cumulative cultural validation of racing, helping define national and regional identity, and encouraging the affluent consumption of sporting experience and a frank enjoyment of betting. The broader cultural approach of the first half of the book is followed by an exploration if the internal culture of racing itself.

Abstract only
Rethinking the nineteenth century
Editors: Andrew Smith and Anna Barton

This book addresses a number of concerns that have emerged in recent scholarship on the nineteenth century. It contributes to existing dialogues that consider how the nineteenth century can be thought about and critically rethought through literature and other kinds of textual production. The book offers a theoretical consideration of the concept of the nineteenth century by considering Walter Benjamin's famous work The Arcades Project, focusing on Arnold Bennett's entitled 'The Rising Storm of Life'. It outlines how recent developments in Gothic studies have provided new ways of critically reflecting upon the nineteenth century. The book draws attention to the global scope of Victorian literature, and explores the exchanges which took place between Indian and British cultures. It argues that attending to the fashioning of American texts by British publishers enables people to rethink the emergence of American literature as a material as well as an imaginative phenomenon. The relationship between literature and the European anatomical culture is carried out by exploring nineteenth-century narratives from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in the first decades of the nineteenth-century to Charles Dickens's fiction in the 1860s. Historical fiction writers' persistent fascination with the long nineteenth century enacts a simultaneous drawing near to and distancing from the period, the lives of its inhabitants and its cultural icons, aesthetic discourses and canonical works. Adaptive practice in the neo-Victorian novel, applied both to Victorian literary precursors and the period more generally, may be better described as adaptive reuse or, perhaps appropriative reuse.

Visual style and British film criticism, 1946–78
Author: John Gibbs

This book explores the role of mise-en-scene in melodrama criticism, and considers what happened to detailed criticism as major theoretical movements emerged in the 1970s. Mise-en-scene, and other ways of conceiving visual style, has been central to so many important debates that the writing examined in the book shaped the field in enduring ways. The book provides a cross-section of the British culture and its attitudes to film. It also considers a range of important contexts, from material conditions of film viewing (and therefore criticism) to the cultural and political shifts of 1956. The book further investigates the frequently asserted connection between literary criticism and the approaches developed in Movie. It identifies the range of different approaches to interpreting mise-en-scene advanced in Movie, drawing out sections on action, camera movement and placing, connections between different parts of the film, and a range of further debates. 'Tales of Sound and Fury' is an extraordinary article, and Elsaesser's appreciation of the plastic and expressive qualities of domestic melodrama and the broader melodramatic tradition is exemplary. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise-en-scene criticism. The book embodies a number of approaches which were to undermine the emergent interest in the interpretation of the film style. Melodrama criticism is a crucial focus for shifts in film criticism and theory, and for this history.