HISTORY OF ENGLISH CULTURE
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The aim of the course is to help student understand the importance of sport as a sociocultural phenomenon and as a way of expressing national identities. Particularly, students will be confronted with the existence of different cultural identities, inside the United Kingdom, and with the political significance of many sporting events.
Throughout the lessons, students will learn:
- to recognise the idea of Britishness, separating it from that of Englishness;
- to be acquainted with Scottish, Welsh and Irish cultural identities;
- to identify in sport the expression of cultural peculiarities and learn to put the sporting event in the broader historic, social and political context;
- to express well-informed and appropriate comments on those cultural peculiarities, estabilishing the proper links between the facts and the ideas they express.
Course contents summary
Sporting Britannia: Britishness and Home Nations on the playing field.
The course starts from the notion that sport is a central element in the history of British culture: firstly, because it reflects and has contributed to the creation of the British character and the international image of British people; secondly, because modern sport is probably the most widely spread sociocultural aspect, stemming from Great Britain, which has become a global phenomenon, with great repercussions on world economy, culture and society. So if it is true that Great Britain played a fundamental role in the definition and codification of modern sport, it is also true that sport may contribute to define Great Britain.
It is only natural to refer to the idea of Britishness, a feeling that often overlaps with that of Englishness, leaving the other British identities in the dark. Sport can be an important way of affirming Scottishness, Welshness or Irishness, sometimes against the dominant presence of English identity. This may be expressed through a heartfelt rivalry in a common sport – as between Scotland and England, in football or rugby union – or by means of the almost religious identification between a local community and a game – that is what rugby means for Welsh people; we shall also observe how local forms of sport can be elevated to the status of a national symbol, as we can see in the disciplines held by the Gaelic Athletic Association, a way to refuse the English influence and to assert a distinct Irish identity through sport.
On the other hand, a sense of Britishness still arises in other sporting events, for example, all those sports in which Great Britain participates as a whole (as athletics); an interesting case is that of the British & Irish Lions, the rugby team that reunites, every four years, the best of British rugby union, touring the countries of the former Empire to compete against teams from the former colonies (Australia, New Zealand or South Africa).
Enrico Martines, Sporting Britannia: la Britishness e le Home Nations sui campi di gara (dispense del docente).
Enrico Martines, Sporting Britannia: la Gran Bretagna e l’invenzione dello sport moderno (in corso di pubblicazione).
Richard Holt, Sport and the British, London, Routledge, 2008.
Grant Jarvie, Sport in the Making of Celtic Cultures, London, Leicester University Press, 1999.
Norman Davies, Isole. Storia dell’Inghilterra, della Scozia, del Galles e dell’Irlanda, Bruno Mondadori Economica, 2004.
Lectures, mainly in Italian language with specific subjects presented in English, supported by audiovisual documents: pictures of authors, texts, events and locations, documentaries, readings and videoclips.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral exam testing:
- the knowledge of facts, persons, contexts, ideas and traditions studied in the course;
- the ability to re-elaborate the subjects studied, to propose personal in-depth analyses, to obtain further information in order to interpret complex situations and to develop personal evaluations.
Students will fail the exam if they show to possess an insufficient knowledge of the basic contents of the course, or if they are not able to obtain further information in order to interpret complex situations and to develop personal evaluations. Students will obtain a result between 18-23/30 by demonstrating to possess a sufficient knowledge of the basic contents of the course and the ability to obtain further information in order to interpret complex situations and to develop personal evaluations expressing themselves in an appropriate linguistic register. Students will obtain a result between 24-27/30 by demonstrating to possess a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or a good level (26-27/30) in the above mentioned competences. Higher marks (28-30/30 or 30 cum laude) will be obtained by demonstrating a very good to excellent level in the above mentioned competences.