Project

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British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe

Applicant Habermann Ina
Number 149175
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Englisches Seminar Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline German and English languages and literature
Start/End 01.03.2014 - 31.08.2017
Approved amount 595'413.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
German and English languages and literature
Political science
Sociology

Keywords (10)

British Culture; Space; British Council; Travel Writing; National Identity; Discourses of Europe; Cultural Studies; English Literature; Eastern Europe; Mediterranean

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Verhältnis Grossbritanniens zu Europa und der Europäischen Union ist von tiefer Skepsis geprägt, die das politische Handeln in zentraler Weise bestimmt und auch immer wieder Probleme aufwirft. Der Hintergrund dieser Europaskepsis ist nicht nur ökonomisch, sondern vor allem historisch und kulturell geprägt, wie sich in britischer Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts gut verfolgen lässt.
Lay summary

Britische Einstellungen zu Europa und der Wandel der Europabilder lassen sich durch eine kulturwissenschaftliche Analyse von Literatur gut ermitteln. Reiseliteratur, Reiseratgeber und sowohl populäre als auch künstlerisch anspruchsvolle Fiktion erlauben einen komplexen Einblick in Mentalitäten und kulturelle Symboliken, die für politisches Handeln oft genauso wichtig sind wie ‚harte‘ Zahlen und Wirtschafts- oder Sicherheitsinteressen. Für die in diesem Projekt angestrebte umfassende Analyse ist es sinnvoll, den Untersuchungsrahmen bis in die Zeit vor dem zweiten Weltkrieg auszudehnen, um auch Entwicklungsprozesse, Brüche und Kontinuitäten in den Blick zu bekommen. Das Projekt verfolgt einen geokritischen Ansatz und fokussiert exemplarisch auf drei diskursive Felder: Literatur zum Ärmelkanal als Zone des kulturellen Austauschs zwischen England und Frankreich, das Ost-West-Verhältnis sowohl im Sinne von Bildern Osteuropas als auch mit dem Fokus auf Migration und Kulturkontakt, und schliesslich britische Diskurse des ‚Südens‘ und das Verhältnis zum Mittelmeerraum. Ein weiteres assoziiertes Teilprojekt beschäftigt sich mit Darstellungen Deutschlands in der britischen Literatur. Zentrale Phasen sind die Entwicklung hin zum 2. Weltkrieg, der kalte Krieg und die Zeit nach dem Mauerfall. Das Projekt betrachtet Literatur im kulturhistorischen und –wissenschaftlichen Kontext und leistet damit einen Beitrag zur Erforschung von Mentalitäten und kulturellen Symboliken, die unsere Lebenswelt entscheidend prägen. Dadurch soll das Verständnis für Probleme in der politischen Auseinandersetzung und für Möglichkeiten des Dialogs verbessert werden. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 14.02.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Hamburg, History Department, Prof. Gabriele Clemens Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Exeter, English Department, Prof. Vesna Goldsworthy Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
King's College, London, English Department, Dr. Lara Feigel Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Amsterdam, European Studies, Dr. Menno Spiering Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
M.G. Sanchez, Writer Gibraltar (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
London University, School of Advanced Studies, Senior Research Fellow Prof. Robert Holland Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of East Anglia, Dr. Petra Rau Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Universität Freiburg, Englisches Seminar, Prof. Barbara Korte, Prof. of English Literature Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Technische Universität Chemnitz, Prof. Klaus Stolz Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Sussex, Prof. Gerard Delanty, Prof. of Sociology and Social and Political Thought Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of St. Andrews, Prof. Gill Plain Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Glasgow, School of Critical Studies, Dr. Andrew Radford Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
University of Brighton, Dr. Andrew Hammond, Senior Lecturer in English Literature Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Bialystok, Prof. Anna Maria Tomczak Poland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University College London, Prof. Wendy Bracewell Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Amsterdam, Eastern European History Dr. Alex Drace-Francis Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Leipzig, English Department, Prof. Elmar Schenkel Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Rostock, Prof. Christian Schmitt-Kilb Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Otherworlds / Anderwelten / Übergänge zwischen Welten Talk given at a conference Die politische Bedeutung von Anderwelten - Der Fall Gibraltar 03.11.2017 Universität Basel, Switzerland Habermann Ina;
Britain in Europe - Europe in Britain Talk given at a conference Britain and Gibraltar 22.06.2017 University of Portsmouth, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Habermann Ina;
Conference Crossroads I: Remembering / Forgetting Talk given at a conference Remembering the East and West: Patrick Leigh Fermor's Walk Across Europe 01.12.2016 Bialystok, Poland Blagojevic Blanka;
Spaces of Entanglement - Negotiating European Crossroads Talk given at a conference European Topologies - The Case of Gibraltar 10.11.2016 Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium Habermann Ina;
Invasion to Integration: British Attitudes towards Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Talk given at a conference Literary and Cultural Responses to the Channel Tunnel 04.11.2016 University of Kent, Canterbury, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Küng Melanie;
Invasion to Integration: British Attitudes towards Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Talk given at a conference 'No Eurostar bollocks for us' - The Fear of Blurring Cultural Boundaries 04.11.2016 Canterbury, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Küng Melanie;
Conference In and Out of Europe: British Literary and Cultural Dsicourses of Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries Talk given at a conference From Getaway to 'Get away!' - The Cultural Crisis at the Dover Gateway 15.09.2016 Basel, Switzerland Küng Melanie;
Conference In and Out of Europe: British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries Talk given at a conference 'I loved Checkpoint Charlie': British Cultural Discourses of the Iron Curtain 15.09.2016 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
In and Out of Europe - British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries Talk given at a conference From British Mediterranean to Post-EU Britain: From British Cyprus to European Cyprus 15.09.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sargsyan Susanna;
Border Regimes: Confrontations, Configurations, Transpositions (Summer School) Poster Bordering Europe: The Presentation and Cultural Production of the English Channel 04.09.2016 Bern, Switzerland Küng Melanie;
Workshop Travel and Identity Talk given at a conference 'Going out of their way': Encounters with Eastern European Bodies in Contemporary British Travel Narratives 26.08.2016 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
Workshop Travel Writing and Identity Talk given at a conference From the Literary Channel to Chunnel Literature 26.08.2016 Basel, Switzerland Küng Melanie;
Workshop Travel Writing and Identity Talk given at a conference Mediterranean Cyprus: Between the UK, the EU, Greece, Turkey, and the World. Cypriot Identity in British Literature 25.08.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sargsyan Susanna;
Conference The Beautiful Game: The Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective Talk given at a conference The Beautiful and the Grim: British Cultural Discourses of the Eastern European Game 30.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
Modernity & European Mind: Writing the Past, Constructing Identities Talk given at a conference Sailing the Boundary: (Re-)Constructing Identities on the English Channel 16.06.2016 Portsmouth, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Küng Melanie;
The Continent in British Cultural Memory: World War II and the Cold War in British Literature Talk given at a conference Literary Negotiations of World War II - The Channel Islands 10.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Küng Melanie;
Workshop The Continent in British Cultural Memory and Literature, WWII and the Cold War Talk given at a conference The Eden which became Babel: Eastern European Cold War Landscapes in British Travel Narratives 09.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
Workshop The Continent in British Cultural Memory and Literature, WWII and the Cold War Talk given at a conference The Mediterranean in Triangles: British 'Post-Empire' and the Modern World Order 09.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sargsyan Susanna;
Annual EUCOR English Trinational PhD Conference Talk given at a conference Literary and Historical Representations of Population Displacement: Gibraltar and Cyprus 22.04.2016 Strasbourg, France Sargsyan Susanna;
Workshop Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Discourses of Europe Talk given at a conference Project Presentation - The Literary Channel 08.04.2016 Basel, Switzerland Küng Melanie;
Workshop Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Discourses of Europe Talk given at a conference 'Might not Europe be the Gift of the Danube?': Europe East and West in Two Contemporary British Travel Narratives 07.04.2016 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
Workshop Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Discourses of Europe Talk given at a conference Population Displacement in the Mediterranean and British Interests: From British Gibraltar to Post-British Cyprus 07.04.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sargsyan Susanna;
Workshop Facing the East in the West Talk given at a conference Eastern European Chronotopes in British Travel Writing on the 20th and 21st Centuries 10.12.2015 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
The 18th Annual International Congress of the Mediterranean Studies Association Talk given at a conference British Travel Writing about the Mediterranean in the Light of British Euroscepticism 27.05.2015 Athen, Greece Sargsyan Susanna;
Annual Symposium for PhD and MA Students Talk given at a conference British 'Footsteps' Narratives on Eastern Europe 11.04.2015 Mulhouse, France Blagojevic Blanka;
Annual EUCOR English Trinational PhD Conference Talk given at a conference Addressing the Blind Spots of Memory: Novels about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands 10.04.2015 Mulhouse, France Küng Melanie;
Workshop Space, Territory, Literature Talk given at a conference Europe East and West. Cartographic Representations of Eastern Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries 25.11.2014 Basel, Switzerland Blagojevic Blanka;
Annual Conference of the German Association for the Study of British Culture - European Britain Talk given at a conference British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe 20.11.2014 Hannover, Germany Habermann Ina; Sargsyan Susanna; Küng Melanie; Blagojevic Blanka;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop "Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Discourses of Europe" 07.04.2016 Basel, Switzerland
Workshop "Facing the East and the West" mit Prof. Elmar Schenkel 10.12.2015 Basel, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Hellsichtige Literatur - Urs Hafner über Melanie Küngs Projekt Horizonte - Das Schweizer Forschungsmagazin German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
166949 The Continent in British Cultural Memory and Literature, WWII and Cold War 01.06.2016 Scientific Conferences
169098 In and Out of Europe: British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries 01.09.2016 Scientific Conferences

Abstract

This project analyses twentieth-century British literary and cultural discourses of Europe. In the present crisis of the Euro, which endangers European stability, we seek to contribute to a better understanding of how contemporary notions of Europe have been shaped. Since Britain finds itself, and has placed itself, on the margins of Europe in prominent discourses of othering, it will be highly instructive to study British projections of Europe over time and in various types of writing as well as in institutional discourses. The project was developed within the framework of the Centre of Competence Cultural Topographies at the University of Basel (www.kultop.unibas.ch). The Centre’s research focuses on ‘boundaries of Europe’, both geographical, and imagined or discursive. While important work at the Centre is concerned with the Eastern boundaries of Europe, the present project looks towards the Western margins, asking about the various ‘Europes’ that have been constructed in Britain, both in terms of participation as well as in processes of othering. The focus will be on cultural and particularly on literary discourses, which are multi-layered and at times self-reflexive, thus offering a representative basis for an analysis of complex cultural identities. Taking our cue from recent spatial theory, we aim to take a topological approach, investigating networks of people, texts and institutions (such as the British Council) which combine to shape the protean entity that is Europe. Even though we are concerned with, and about, the contemporary situation, we suggest that it can only be understood adequately by taking a longer view, beginning after the great chasm of World War I and taking into account the interwar period and the build-up to World War II, the War itself as well as the Cold War period, and post-reunification Europe. This time frame of roughly ninety years, or three generations, corresponds to Jan and Aleida Assmann’s notion of the contemporary, shaped by “communicative memory”, a “synchronic memory-space” (J. Assmann 2006: 8) defined by a specific relation between personal communication and representation through media as well as cultural artefacts (such as letters, photographs etc.). This time frame also makes sense from the point of view of British historiography concerned with Europe, which shifted its focus from a study of national histories to the study of alliances and international relations after World War I (Evans 2009), and in terms of technological developments in the media.Our project is divided into three PhD research projects. In selecting these, we focussed on literary and cultural discourses which transcend the boundaries of the nation state rather than on bilateral relations between Britain and other European nations. Placing the emphasis on topologies and networks will enable us to conduct an integrated analysis of texts (including fiction, travel writing and journalism), public discourses and biographies as well as institutional history and policies. Our cultural analysis will thus acknowledge a spatial dimension to the discourses of Europe without being tied to the ostensibly foundational realities of geographical ‘first space’ (Soja 1989). Three ‘cultural topographies’ have been selected which appear to be particularly resonant with regard to European discourses: the English Channel as a contact zone and space of exchange between Britain/England and France ("Stranded Dialogue. Identity, Memory and the English Channel"), the chiastic construction of East and West in Britain’s image of Europe (“Europe East and West: Literary Negotiations of a Blurry Borderline”), and the South of Europe as defined by the Mediterranean Sea (“South: Between the Pillars of Hercules and the Hellespont”). Links between these projects are manifold - they are historical, conceptual and topographical as well as topological, both in terms of geo-political constellations which structure the perception of Europe, and in terms of personal networks of relations, featuring such figures as Lawrence Durrell, poet, author of fiction and travel writer, who worked for the British Council and the Foreign Office in various capacities during World War II and the Cold War period and wrote extensively about Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. One reason for the fact that British writers, or ‘men of letters’, often play a significant role in cultural and political institutions can be found in British club culture and the ‘Old Boys’ Network’ fostered by the public school and university systems (Wiener 1981). This produces a set of cultural and political players with a shared outlook and with personal connections to decision makers. Also, literary writing, including work often labelled as ‘middlebrow’, is an intrinsic part of the fabric of British life, and Britain has for a long time looked to its authors as significant voices within the public sphere, both for the dissemination of cultural values and the ‘projection of Britain’ abroad, and for accounts of the foreign at home. This holds true for the comparatively well-researched activities of travelling, working and writing in and about the British Empire, but also for Europe, where there is still a need for more sustained analysis. In terms of the relevance of our inquiry, we do not propose to conduct an empirical analysis of collective opinions, but we maintain that the imagery used and the views expressed in fiction and various forms of popular writing offer an adequate and representative reflection of the cultural imaginary of the nation, and of the important issues at stake.We hope to contribute to a more thorough understanding of Britain’s position towards a Europe where the ‘British stranger’ (Wall 2008) has taken residence, and we also feel that we are ideally placed to undertake such an investigation in Switzerland, a country that shares Britain’s marginality with regard to Europe and thus provides the instructive and in some respects privileged view of the stranger within.
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