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From ‘Our Island Story’ to ‘Citizens of Nowhere’: Culture, Identity and English Literature

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Changing English
Issue number3
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)285-296
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date24/03/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


There is a growing consensus that the study of literature in English secondary schools is suffering a crisis: a fixation with knowledge and facts, a loss of creativity, and a denigration of students’ own experience, to name a few. This article argues that this is, in part, a result of the conception of culture embedded in the current National Curriculum; a conception in which the study of literature exists primarily to valorise and maintain a clearly definable national culture. In response to this, I suggest that recent thinking in the tradition of cultural cosmopolitanism can expose the inadequacies of this model and offer a set of conceptual resources for thinking about the role of identity and culture in relation to literary study in the secondary school. I also suggest that, as far back as the 1921 Newbolt report, fragments of this more capacious understanding of culture run through much of the most important thinking about the subject.