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British Culture


British Culture 11. Questions for Discussion 1. What are chief languages used in the United Kingdom today? 2. Please talk about Elizabethan Theatre? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: British Culture

British Culture
  • The culture of the United Kingdom refers to the
    patterns of human activity and symbolism
    associated with the British people and the United
  • It is informed by the UK's history as a developed
    island country, monarchy, imperial power and,
    particularly, as consisting of four
    countriesEngland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and
    Waleswhich each have their own preserved and
    distinctive customs and symbolism.
  • Popular culture of the United Kingdom has
    impacted upon the world in the form of the
    British invasion, Britpop and British television
    broadcasting. British literature and British
    poetry, particularly that of William Shakespeare,
    is revered across the world.

1. Languages in the United Kingdom
  • No official language. English is the main
    language and the de facto official language,
    spoken monolingually by an estimated 95 of the
    UK population.
  • However, individual countries within the UK have
    frameworks for the promotion of their indigenous
    languages. In Wales, English and Welsh are both
    widely used by officialdom, and Irish and Ulster
    Scots enjoy limited use alongside English in
    Northern Ireland, mainly in publicly commissioned
    translations. Additionally, the Western Isles
    council area of Scotland has a policy to promote
    Scottish Gaelic.

2. The Arts
  • 2.1 Literature
  • The earliest existing native literature of the
    territory of the modern United Kingdom was
    written in the Celtic languages of the isles.
  • Anglo-Saxon literature includes Beowulf, a
    national epic, but literature in Latin
    predominated among educated elites.
  • After the Norman Conquest Anglo-Norman literature
    brought continental influences to the isles.
  • English literature emerged as a recognisable
    entity in the late 14th century, with the rise
    and spread of the London dialect of Middle
  • Geoffrey Chaucer is the first great identifiable
    individual in English literature his Canterbury
    Tales remains a popular 14th-century work which
    readers still enjoy today.

  • From Elizabethan period, poet and playwright
    William Shakespeare stands out as arguably the
    most famous writer in the world.
  • The English novel became a popular form in the
    18th century, with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe
    (1719), Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) and
    Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1745).
  • After a period of decline, the poetry of Robert
    Burns revived interest in vernacular literature,
    the rhyming weavers of Ulster being influenced by
    literature from Scotland.
  • In the early 19th century, the Romantic period
    showed a flowering of poetry comparable with the
    Renaissance two hundred years earlier, with such
    poets as William Blake, William Wordsworth, John
    Keats, and Lord Byron.
  • The Victorian period was the golden age of the
    realistic English novel, represented by Jane
    Austen, the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily and
    Anne), Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, George
    Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Hardy.

  • World War I gave rise to British war poets and
    writers such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon,
    Robert Graves and Rupert Brooke who wrote (often
    paradoxically), of their expectations of war,
    and/or their experiences in the trench.
  • The Scottish Renaissance of the early 20th
    century brought modernism to Scottish literature
    as well as an interest in new forms in the
    literatures of Scottish Gaelic and Scots.
  • The English novel developed in the 20th century
    into much greater variety and was greatly
    enriched by immigrant writers. It remains today
    the dominant English literary form.
  • Other well-known novelists include Arthur Conan
    Doyle, D. H. Lawrence, George Orwell, Salman
    Rushdie, Mary Shelley, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S.
    Lewis, Virginia Woolf, Ian Fleming and J. K.
    Rowling.Important poets include Elizabeth
    Barrett Browning, T. S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, Philip
    Larkin, John Milton, Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard
    Kipling, Alexander Pope, and Dylan Thomas.

2.2 Theatre
  • The United Kingdom has a vibrant tradition of
  • The reign of Elizabeth I in the late 16th and
    early 17th century saw a flowering of the drama
    and all the arts. Perhaps the most famous
    playwright in the world, William Shakespeare,
    wrote around 40 plays that are still performed in
    theatres across the world to this day.
  • Today the West End of London has a large number
    of theatres, particularly centred around
    Shaftesbury Avenue.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company operates out of
    Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon in
    England, producing mainly but not exclusively
    Shakespeare's plays.
  • Important modern playwrights include Alan
    Ayckbourn, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Tom
    Stoppard, and Arnold Wesker.

2.3 Music
  • Composers William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John
    Taverner, John Blow, Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar,
    Arthur Sullivan, William Walton, Ralph Vaughan
    Williams, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett
    have made major contributions to British music,
    and are known internationally.
  • The United Kingdom also supports a number of
    major orchestras.
  • London is one of the world's major centres for
    classical music.
  • The UK was one of the two main countries in the
    development of rock music, and has provided
  • It has pioneered various forms of electronic
    dance music.

2.4 Broadcasting
  • The UK has been at the forefront of developments
    in film, radio, and television.
  • Broadcasting in the UK has historically been
    dominated by the BBC, although independent radio
    and television (ITV, Channel 4, Five) and
    satellite broadcasters (especially BSkyB) have
    become more important in recent years.
  • BBC television, and the other three main
    television channels are public service
    broadcasters who, as part of their license
    allowing them to operate, broadcast a variety of
    minority interest programming.
  • The United Kingdom has a large number of national
    and local radio stations .

2.5 Visual art
  • The oldest art in the United Kingdom can be dated
    to the Neolithic period, and is found in a
    funerary context.
  • In the Iron Age, the Celtic culture spread in the
    British isles, and with them a new art style.
  • The Romans brought with them the Classical style
    and glass work and mosaics.
  • The Celtic fringe gained back some of the power
    lost in the Roman period, and the Celtic style
    again became a factor influencing art all over
    the UK.
  • In the UK the different style to some extent
    fused into a British Celtic-Scandinavian hybrid.

  • Notable visual artists from the United Kingdom
    include John Constable, Sir Joshua Reynolds,
    Thomas Gainsborough, William Blake and J.M.W.
  • Notable illustrators include Aubrey Beardsley,
    Roger Hargreaves, and Beatrix Potter.
  • Notable arts institutions include the Allied
    Artists' Association, Royal College of Art,
    Artists' Rifles, Royal Society of Arts, New
    English Art Club, Slade School of Art, Royal
    Academy, and the Tate Gallery.

2.6 Architecture
  • The architecture of the United Kingdom has a long
    and diverse history from beyond Stonehenge to the
    designs of Norman Foster and the present day.
  • The earliest remnants of architecture are mainly
    neolithic monuments.
  • Over the two centuries following the Norman
    conquest of 1066, and the building of the Tower
    of London, many great castles such as Caernarfon
    Castle in Wales and Carrickfergus Castle in
    Ireland were built to suppress the natives.

  • In the early 18th century baroque architecture
    was introduced, and Blenheim Palace was built in
    this era.
  • However, baroque was quickly replaced by a return
    of the Palladian form.
  • The Georgian architecture of the 18th century was
    an evolved form of Palladianism.
  • In the early 19th century the romantic medieval
    gothic style appeared as a backlash to the
    symmetry of Palladianism.

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, arts and
    crafts in architecture is symbolized by an
    informal, non symmetrical form, often with
    mullioned or lattice windows, multiple gables and
    tall chimneys. This style continued to evolve
    until World War II.
  • Following the Second World War reconstruction was
    heavily influenced by Modernism, especially from
    the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
  • Modernism remains a significant force in UK
    architecture, although its influence is felt
    predominantly in commercial buildings. The two
    most prominent proponents are Lord Rogers of
    Riverside and Lord Foster of Thames Bank.

3. Science and Technology
  • From the time of the Scientific Revolution,
    England and Scotland, and thereafter the United
    Kingdom, have been prominent in world scientific
    and technological development.

  • Possibly the most famous of all English
    scientists, Isaac Newton, is considered by
    historians of science to have crowned and ended
    the scientific revolution with the 1687
    publication of his Principia Mathematica.

  • Technologically, the UK is also amongst the
    world's leaders.
  • Historically, it was at the forefront of the
    Industrial Revolution, with innovations
    especially in textiles, the steam engine,
    railroads and civil engineering.
  • The UK remains one of the leading providers of
    technological innovations today.

4. Religion
  • The United Kingdom was created as a Protestant
    Christian country and Protestant churches remain
    the largest faith group in each country of the
  • The Anglican Church of England, is the
    Established Church in England. The Queen is
    Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
  • The Presbyterian Church of Scotland is regarded
    as the national church in Scotland.
  • The Anglican Church in Wales was disestablished
    in 1920.
  • The Anglican Church of Ireland was
    disestablished in 1871.
  • Other religions followed in the UK include Roman
    Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism,
    and Buddhism.

5. Cuisine
  • British cuisine is the specific set of cooking
    traditions and practices associated with the
    United Kingdom.
  • Historically, British cuisine means "unfussy
    dishes made with quality local ingredients,
    matched with simple sauces to accentuate flavour,
    rather than disguise it."
  • However, British cuisine has absorbed the
    cultural influence of those that settled in
    Britain, producing hybrid dishes, such as the
    Anglo-Indian Chicken tikka masala, hailed as
    "Britain's true national dish".

  • British dishes include fish and chips, the Sunday
    roast, and bangers and mash.
  • British cuisine has several national and regional
    varieties, including English, Scottish and Welsh
    cuisine, which each have developed their own
    regional or local dishes, many of which are
    geographically indicated foods such as Cheshire
    cheese, the Yorkshire pudding, Arbroath Smokie
    and Welsh rarebit.

6. Education
  • Each country of the United Kingdom has a separate
    education system, with power over education
    matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
    being devolved.
  • Education matters for England are dealt with by
    the UK government since there is no devolved
    administration for England.

6.1 England
  • Most schools came under state control in the
    Victorian era, a formal state school system was
    instituted after the Second World War.
  • Initially schools were separated into infant
    schools (normally up to age 4 or 5), primary
    schools and secondary schools (split into more
    academic grammar schools and more vocational
    secondary modern schools).
  • England has many prominent private schools, often
    founded hundreds of years ago, which are known as
    public schools or independent schools. Eton,
    Harrow and Rugby are three of the better known.

England's universities
  • England's universities include the so-called
    Oxbridge universities of (Oxford University and
    Cambridge University) which are amongst the
    world's oldest universities and are generally
    ranked top of all British universities.
  • Some institutions are world-renowned in
    specialised and often narrow areas of study, such
    as Imperial College London (science and
    engineering) and London School of Economics
    (economics and social sciences).
  • Academic degrees are usually split into classes
    first class (I), upper second class (II1), lower
    second class (II2) and third (III), and
    unclassified (below third class).

6.2 Northern Ireland
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible for
    education in Northern Ireland though
    responsibility at a local level is administered
    by 5 Education and Library Boards covering
    different geographical areas.

6.3 Scotland
  • Scotland has a long history of universal
    provision of public education, and the Scottish
    education system is distinctly different from
    other parts of the United Kingdom.
  • Traditionally, the Scottish system has emphasised
    breadth across a range of subjects compared to
    the English, Welsh and Northern Irish system has
    emphasised greater depth of education over a
    smaller range of subjects at secondary school
  • Qualifications at the secondary school and
    post-secondary (further education) level are
    provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority
    and delivered through various schools, colleges
    and other centres.

  • State schools are owned and operated by the local
    authorities which act as Education Authorities,
    and the compulsory phase is divided into primary
    school and secondary school (often called High
  • Scottish universities generally have courses a
    year longer than their counterparts elsewhere in
    the UK, though it is often possible for students
    to take a more advanced specialised exams and
    join the courses at the second year. One unique
    aspect is that the ancient universities of
    Scotland issue a Master of Arts as the first
    degree in humanities.

6.4 Wales
  • The National Assembly for Wales has
    responsibility for education in Wales.
  • A significant number of students in Wales are
    educated either wholly or largely through the
    medium of Welsh and lessons in the language are
    compulsory for all until the age of 16.
  • There are plans to increase the provision of
    Welsh Medium schools as part of the policy of
    having a fully bi-lingual Wales.

7. Sociological Issues
7.1 Housing
  • England has one of the highest population
    densities in Europe. Housing, therefore, tends to
    be smaller and more closely packed than in other
  • In the modern United Kingdom more detached
    housing has started to be built, most beginning
    in the mid-nineties.
  • Driven by the strong economy, city living has
    boomed with city centre population's rising
  • Most of this population growth has been
    accommodated through new apartment blocks in
    residential schemes, such as those in Leeds,
    Birmingham and Manchester.

7.2 Living Arrangements
  • Historically most people in the United Kingdom
    lived either in conjugal extended families or
    nuclear families.
  • In the 20th century the general trend is a rise
    in single people living alone, the virtual
    extinction of the extended family (outside
    certain ethnic minority communities), and the
    nuclear family arguably reducing in prominence.
  • Some research indicates that in the 21st century
    young people are tending to continue to live in
    the parental home for much longer than their

8. Sports
  • The national sport of the UK is football, having
    originated in England, and the UK has the oldest
    football clubs in the world. The first ever
    international football match was between Scotland
    and England in 1872. The match ended goalless.

  • Other famous British sporting events include the
    Wimbledon tennis championships, the Grand
    National, the London Marathon, the Six Nations
    rugby championships (of which 4 "home nations"
    participate), the British Grand Prix, The Open
    Championship, The Ashes cricket series and The
    Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge
  • A great number of major sports originated in the
    United Kingdom, including football, squash, golf,
    tennis, boxing, rugby (rugby union and rugby
    league), cricket, field hockey, snooker,
    billiards, badminton and curling.

9. National Costume and Dress
  • There is no national costume of the United
  • Scotland has the kilt and Tam o'shanter. In
    England certain military uniforms such as the
    Beefeater or the Queen's Guard are considered
    national symbols.
  • British fashions defined acceptable dress for men
    of business. Key figures such as Beau Brummell,
    the future Edward VII and Edward VIII created the
    modern suit and cemented its dominance.

10. Naming Convention
  • The naming convention in most of the United
    Kingdom is for everyone to have a given name, (or
    forename) usually (but not always) indicating the
    child's sex, followed by a parent's family name.
  • Traditionally, Christian names were those of
    Biblical characters or recognised saints
    however, in the Gothic Revival of the Victorian
    era, other Anglo Saxon and mythical names enjoyed
    something of a fashion among the literati.
  • Since the middle of the 20th century, however,
    first names have been influenced by a much wider
    cultural base.

11. Questions for Discussion
  • 1. What are chief languages used in the United
    Kingdom today?
  • 2. Please talk about Elizabethan Theatre?