What is Englishness? Is there such a thing as a national temperament, is there a character or an identity which can be claimed to be specifically English? This collection of articles seeks to answer these questions by offering a kaleidoscopic vision ...
of Englishness since the eighteenth century, a vision that acknowledges stereotypes while at the same time challenging them. Englishness is defined in contrast to Britishness, the Celtic fringe - Scotland in particular - Europe and the Continent at large. The effects of the Empire and of its loss are examined together with other socio-economic factors such as the two World Wars, de-industrialization and the different waves of immigration. Through a careful analysis of the arts, literature, philosophy, historiography, cultural and political studies produced in England and on the Continent over the last three centuries, a composite image of Englishness emerges, somewhere between centre and periphery, tradition and innovation, transience and timelessness, rurality and urbanity, commitment and isolation. Englishness is thus revealed as a protean concept, one which, whether it is a historical or political construct, a genuine emanation of a national desire or a simulacrum, retains its fascination and this volume offers keys to understanding its diverse expressions.