English before they were British

Arthur Aughey

in The Politics of Englishness

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780719068720
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701300 | DOI:
English before they were British

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This chapter considers the imaginative effect of the post-war experience and identifies the anxieties of Englishness, commenting on historian George Kitson Clark's argument that the English had been English before they were British and that English identity could be found behind or beyond the institutions of the United Kingdom. It also discusses a recent interpretation of British history indicating that the diminishing authority of the old institutions has indeed provoked the present re-assessment of Englishness. The chapter argues that the question of English identity today is bound up with the new complexity of British governance and with the new uncertainty of how England fits into it. It describes several anxieties of English, which include the anxiety of absence, the anxiety of silence and the anxiety of anticipation.

Keywords: anxieties of Englishness; post-war experience; George Kitson Clark; English identity; United Kingdom; British history; anxiety of absence; anxiety of silence; anxiety of anticipation

Chapter.  8038 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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