The road to Brexit

A cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe

Edited by Ina Habermann

The road to Brexit


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6380-6
  • Pages: 274
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: May 2022
  • BIC Category: European Politics, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, Contemporary Literature, Politics, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Society & social sciences / Media studies, Society & social sciences / Society & culture: general, Literature & literary studies / General
  • Series: Manchester University Press


This collection explores British attitudes to Continental Europe that explain the Brexit decision. Addressing British-European entanglements and the impact of British Euroscepticism, the book argues that Britain is in denial about the strength of its ties to Europe. The volume brings together literary and cultural studies, history, and political science in an integrated analysis of views and practices that shape cultural memory. Part one traces the historical and political relationship between Britain and Europe, whilst Part two is devoted to exemplary case studies of films as well as popular Eurosceptic and historical fiction. Part three engages with border mindedness and Britain's island story. The book is addressed both to specialists in cultural studies, and a wider audience interested in Brexit.


'The collection impresses by its interdisciplinary range. In this sense, it is an ideal specimen of Cultural-Studies scholarship, no matter whether all contributors would readily identify with this label or not. Academics from various disciplines - historians, political scientists, literary studies scholars, etc. - have come together and produced insightful and very readable essays on this eminently important issue which complement each other perfectly. This is essential reading for everyone interested in how the United Kingdom has 'located' itself in and/or vis-à-vis (continental) Europe.'
Gerold Sedlmayer, Anglia - Journal of English Philology


Introduction: Understanding the past, facing the future - Ina Habermann

Part I Britain and Europe: political entanglements
1 Not with a bang but a whimper: Brexit in historical perspective - Robert Holland
2 'This is something which we know, in our bones, we cannot do': hopes and fears for a united Europe in Britain after the Second World War - Lara Feigel and Alisa Miller
3 EU enlargement and the freedom of movement: imagined communities in the Conservative Party's discourse on Europe (1997-2016) - Marlene Herrschaft-Iden
4 The discursive role of Europe in a disunited kingdom - Klaus Stolz

Part II British discourses of Europe in literature and film
5 'Extr'ord'nary people, the Germans': Germans as aliens in post-war British popular culture - Judith Vonberg
6 'I don't want to be a European': the European Other in British cultural discourse - Menno Spiering
7 The dystopian nightmare of a European superstate: British fiction and the EU - Lisa Bischoff
8 A case for a Green Brexit? Paul Kingsnorth, John Berger and the pros and cons of a sense of place - Christian Schmitt-Kilb
9 Brexit and the Tudor turn: Philippa Gregory's narratives of national grievance - Siobhan O'Connor

Part III Negotiating borders in British travel writing and memoir
10 Guards of Brexit? Revisiting the cultural significance of the white cliffs of Dover - Melanie Küng
11 From Iron Curtains to Iron Cliffs: British travel writing between East and West - Blanka Blagojevic
12 Fifty years of Unbelonging: a Gibraltarian writer's personal testimonial on the road to Brexit - M.G. Sanchez


Ina Habermann is Professor of English Literature at the University of Basel, Switzerland

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