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Literature, Nationalism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales


  • Date Published: January 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521125420

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About the Authors
  • The Tudor era has long been associated with the rise of nationalism in England, yet nationalist writing in this period often involved the denigration and outright denial of Englishness. Philip Schwyzer argues that the ancient, insular, and imperial nation imagined in the works of writers such as Shakespeare and Spenser was not England, but Britain. Disclaiming their Anglo-Saxon ancestry, the English sought their origins in a nostalgic vision of British antiquity. Focusing on texts including The Faerie Queene, English and Welsh antiquarian works, The Mirror for Magistrates, Henry V and King Lear, Schwyzer charts the genesis, development and disintegration of British nationalism in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. An important contribution to the expanding scholarship on early modern Britishness, this study gives detailed attention to Welsh texts and traditions, arguing that Welsh sources crucially influenced the development of English literature and identity.

    • A comparative study of English and Welsh national identity in the Tudor era
    • Schwyzer sees Shakespeare and Spenser as British, rather than English nationalists
    • Explores the role of ghosts, blood and nostalgia in the early modern national consciousness
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'Philip Schwyzer's is a compelling study. He has explored a good deal of little-examined material … He employs a wide range of theoretical and historical materials with care and precision … this is a book that is ultimately more than the sum of its parts.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521125420
    • length: 208 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.31kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Remembering Britain
    1. Spenser's spark: British blood and British nationalism in the Tudor era
    2. Bale's books and Aske's abbeys: nostalgia and the aesthetics of nationhood
    3. 'Awake, lovely Wales': national identity and cultural memory
    4. Ghosts of a nation: A Mirror for Magistrates and the poetry of spectral complaint
    5. 'I am Welsh, you know': the nation in Henry V
    6. 'Is this the promised end?': James I, King Lear, and the strange death of Tudor Britain

  • Author

    Philip Schwyzer, University of Exeter

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