The Divided Kingdom of Britain on Film

Class: Wednesday 13.30-15 room 2.07

Office hours: Wednesday 13.15-15.15 room 4.15

The course looks at a selection of British films, supplemented by extra reading (newspaper clippings, articles) and YouTube materials, all in an effort to examine the notion of the “Divided” Kingdom of Great Britain. We will look at a number of divides: geographical, economical, cultural and ideological, between the South and the North, the upper class versus the underclass as well as between those that voted for and against Brexit.

Assessment: 40% presentation, 40% short analytical note, 20% participation

Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 1960s North vs South

  1. read 45 reasons why The North is better here
  2. read cultural differences between the South and the North here
  3. read an article from the Mirror here
  4. watch London in Trainspotting here
  5. watch A Taste of Honey here
  6. watch an episode of Coronation St here
  7. watch an episode of EastEnders here

Week 3 This is England  (in class)

Week 4 discussion

Homework: watch A Room with a View
Week 5 discussion

exercise thisisengland

Homework: Read an article from The Independent on Thatcher’s death here  , and  here from CBC.CA, and from the BBC here

Week 6 The Full Monty (in class)

Homework: read 1) “Rock ‘n’ roll PM: Blair’s cultural legacy”;  2) “An Important Lesson in British History from Spice Girls”

Week 7 discussion (presentation 1 Cool Britannia 2x)

Video 1 ; Video 2

Homework: watch Four Weddings and a Funeral;

Week 8 discussion

Homework: watch It’s a Free World

Week 9 discussion (presentation 6 1x)

Week 10 discussion (presentation 7 2x)

Homework: read pp. 19-31 (or the whole chapter for those interested) from Film, Drama and the Break-up of Britain available as an electronic book in our library

Consider this:

“The Americans you see in Curtis films are not like the Americans in your hometown in America. They are thin, have passports and tend to speak perfect idiomatic British English with American accents. This is a different breed of American; they actually come from a little island in the mid-Atlantic with special diplomatic status, which is why no one ever gives them a hard time about US foreign policy at dinner parties…
In Britain people prefer to form tight social clusters, rather than large networks, choosing close friends from a wide variety of social backgrounds. The largest proportion will naturally have gone to either Oxford or Cambridge, in keeping with the fact that approximately 70% of the population attended one or t he o t her . Each grouping will also contain a representative from Scotland or Wales, plus a single minority or a differently abled person, but not both: there simply aren’t enough to go round. The exact balance is governed by complex legislation…
English people rarely go into work, and if they do they generally carry out their jobs with an endearing incompetence. They just happen to believe there are more important things in life, like swearing and snow…
Most Britons appear to be rich and live in large town houses or cool flats, even though none seem to have proper jobs…” (Dowling 2003)
Blandford, S. (2007). Film, Drama and the Break Up of Britain. Bristol, UK: Intellect.

Week 11 presentation 7 (Poles in Britain);  post-Brexit immigration documentary; Poles after Brexit BBC documentary – discussion

Week 12 presentation 7 (Poles in Britain); post-Brexit immigration documentary; Poles after Brexit BBC documentary – discussion

Week 13 presentation 10 2x (reactions to Brexit); watching Europe: Scotland’ Dilemma; watching DisUnited Kingdom documentary on Scotland;  frag. of Trainspotting; Ewan McGregor on Brexit; summary


1: Reactions to Thatcher’s death

2: Hard Northerners vs Soft Southerners

3: Heritage culture

4: Cool Britannia: the invention of the creative industries

5: The under-class, the upper class and the end of the middle class?

6: Multicultural London – the capital of Europe?

7: Poles in Britain

8: Brexit: has Britain gone mad?

9: Scotland and Ireland in the UK or EU

10: Europe’s reaction to Brexit

Presentation guidelines:


Content: composed by student, thesis based, both key information and original ideas on a specific argument related to the topic

Delivery: improvised speech, using notes/keynotes only for guidance. interaction with audience offering a possibility of further questions/discussion

Sources: wide range of sources addressing the issues in question. sources should be from authoritative or academic sources

Handout/visual aids: original handouts composed by the student


Content: taken directly from books/internet with no additional interpretation/analysis/thesis

Delivery: read out from notes

Sources: use of single source, tabloid or amateur content

Handout: cut’n’paste