© 2017

The English Countryside

Representations, Identities, Mutations

  • David Haigron

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. David Haigron
    Pages 1-31
  3. Rural Communities and Modernity: The English Countryside as an Invested Space

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 33-33
    2. Brendan Prendiville
      Pages 35-59
    3. Jonathan Bignell, Jeremy Burchardt
      Pages 61-82
  4. Praised Harmony and Revealing Dissonance: The English Countryside as a Resonant Space

  5. Exploration and Meaning: The English Countryside as a Liminal Space

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 263-273

About this book


This collection of essays examines representations of the English countryside and its mutations, and what they reveal about a nation’s, communities’ or individuals’ search for identity – and fear of losing it. Based on a pluridisciplinary approach and a variety of media, this book challenges the view that the English countryside is an apolitical space characterised by permanence and lack of conflict. It analyses how the pastoral motif is actually subverted to explore liminal spaces and temporalities. The authors deconstruct the “rural idyll” myth to show how it plays a distinctive and yet ambiguous part in defining Englishness/Britishness. A must read for both scholars and students interested in British rural and cultural history, media and literature.


Pastoral Rurality Environment Modern Modernity Modernism Edgelands nationalism

Editors and affiliations

  • David Haigron
    • 1
  1. 1.UFR Langues—Département d’anglaisUniversité Rennes 2RennesFrance

About the editors

David Haigron is Senior Lecturer in British Studies at the University of Rennes 2, France. He is the author of The UK’s Political Landscape in the 21st Century (2014) and co-edited Social Class on British and American Screens (2016).

Bibliographic information


“A stimulating exploration of how the land we know as the English countryside has been imagined, portrayed and contested in popular culture. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in peering beyond the chocolate-box idyll.” (Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University, UK)

“This book focuses on the debunking of an idealized English countryside seen as a relief from the tensions of urban, modern and frenzy England. Through a great variety of media, it sheds a light on how the representations of rural England have permeated the English frame of mind and therefore enabled people to build their own identity.” (Gilles Teulié, Aix-Marseille University, France)

“Half about literature and half about the history of representations, this book offers us a subtle and thorough approach to the meanings of countryside in English cultural production. From the promotional strategies of rural tourism to the complexities of countryside settings in comedy sitcoms or in Hardy’s novels, the work provides a perspective which may change forever the way you look at the countryside!” (John Mullen, University of Rouen, France)