After the rural idyll: representations of the British countryside as a non-idyllic environment

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This paper explores a somewhat overlooked tradition of non-idyllic representations of the British countryside, particularly characteristic of the post-World War Two period. It considers the collective significance of these representations and what they tell us of the place of the rural within contemporary British culture. The paper takes a broad survey approach, highlighting the representation of rural landscapes, rural communities and rural life, and the rural economy and rural labour, across a range of non-idyllic representations. It argues that it is no longer plausible to sustain the argument that the overwhelming imagination of British rural space is idyllic. These non-idyllic representations afford spaces to explore the imprints of modernity and globalisation on the British countryside, whilst the special place of the rural within British national identity now seems less secure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-17
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020


  • Rural
  • Representation
  • Non-idyllic
  • Modernity
  • National Identity
  • Britain

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