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Seminar 5

Seminar 5: Re-Imagining Britain?

 1. What are the different visions of the nation offered in a) George Orwell’s ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’; b) Noel Coward and David Lean’s In Which we Serve; c) John Boorman’s Hope and Glory?

2. What do these sources suggest about the impact of the Second World War on national identity in Britain?


Films and documents

Film: In Which We Serve (Noel Coward & David Lean, 1942)

Film: Hope and Glory (John Boorman, 1987)

George Orwell, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius’ (1941) – accessible at


Seminar Reading

John Baxendale, ‘”I had seen a lot of Englands”: J.B. Priestley, Englishness and the People’, History Workshop Journal, 5 (2001), 87-111.

Geoff Eley, ‘Finding the People’s War: Film, British Collective Memory and World War II’, American Historical Review, 106 (2001), 818-38

G. Claeys, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn, Patriotism, and Orwell’s Politics’, The Review of Politics, 47 (1985), 186-211

And for a narrative of Britain at war, read Clarke's Hope and Glory, pp. 190-215


Further Reading

A. Aldgate & J. Richards, Britain Can Take It (1986)

Ben Clarke, ‘Orwell and Englishness’, Review of English Studies, 57 (2006), 83-105

S. Harper, ‘Popular Film, Popular Memory: The Case of the Second World War’, in M.Evans & K. Lunn (eds.), War and Memory in the Twentieth Century (1997)

A. Higson, Waving the Flag: Constructing a National Cinema in Britain (1995)

G. Hurd (ed.), National Fictions: World War II in British Film and Television (1984)

J.P. Mayer, British Cinema and their Audiences (1948)

J. Poole, ‘British Cinema Attendance in Wartime’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 7 (1987), 15-34

Jeffrey Richards & Dorothy Sheridan, Mass Observation at the Movies (1987)

Chris Waters, ‘J.B. Priestley, 1894-1984: Englishness and the Politics of Nostalgia’, in Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler (eds.), After the Victorians: Private Conscience and Public Duty in Modern Britain (1994), pp. 209-28.

P. Taylor (ed.), Britain and the Cinema in the Second World War (1988)

Jay Winter, ‘Film and the Matrix of Memory’, American Historical Review, 106 (2001), 104-24