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Modern British culture explored: The New Elizabethan Age and Verse Drama in England

31 October 2016

Modern British culture, society and identity are the subject of two major new books by leading Cardiff University academics this autumn.

The New Elizabethan Age: Culture, Society and National Identity after World War II (I.B. Tauris) provides the first in-depth study of New Elizabethanism, a concept that originated during the war and came into the mainstream at the time of the Coronation of Elizabeth II.

‘It has taken two generations of scholars to recognize the New Elizabethans and the contributions they made to the national identity of these islands in a single academic study.’ – Professor Robert Colls

The book argues that the 1950s ambition for a second ‘glorious’ Elizabethan age of adventurers, explorers, and poets has had an enduring influence on political and cultural definitions of modern, post-war Britain.  From the ascent of Everest to the London Olympics of 2012, from the funeral of Margaret Thatcher to the reinternment of Richard III, it examines various and ongoing attempts, amidst political and social change, to establish a coherent, cohesive myth of modern British identity and possibility.

Dr Irene Morra and Dr Rob Gossedge have assembled a collection of essays that features contributions from leading international scholars, including Dr Melanie Bigold and Professor Helen Phillips, also of Cardiff University. The book covers a range of topics, from ballet, opera and Arts Council policy, to national historiography, the myth of King Arthur, and the New Shakespeareanism of theatre and television.

In Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015: Art, Modernity, and the National Stage, Dr Morra explores a tradition that has received very little consideration thus far, identifying a rich and diverse heritage of experimentation.

The book contends that rather than being a marginal, fundamentally outdated curiosity, modern verse drama represents an influential and overlooked tradition of challenge and creativity. From the twentieth century into the twenty-first, such diverse proponents as W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Tony Harrison, and Caryl Churchill have worked with directors, composers, and designers in an attempt to expand and revitalize the modern English stage and audience.

The New Elizabethan Age: Culture, Society and National Identity after World War II is published by I.B. Tauris. Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015: Art, Modernity, and the National Stage is published by Methuen Bloomsbury.

Dr Irene Morra  is author of Britishness, Popular Music and National Identity: The Making of Modern Britain and Twentieth-Century British Authors and the Rise of Opera in Britain. She teaches and researches modern and contemporary drama, nationalism and aesthetics, and intermediality and intertextuality across genres and artistic forms.

Dr Rob Gossedge  teaches and researches in the literature and cultural afterlife of the Middle Ages and contemporary Welsh literature in English. He is the author of Arthurian Literary Production in Britain, 1800-2000 and articles on Chaucer, Arthurian myth, Robin Hood and other outlaw legends, and twentieth-century medievalism.

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