Should Welsh literature be taught separately from British/English literature? - Sarah Woodbury

Should Welsh literature be taught separately from British/English literature?

I think that’s a ‘yes’.

I was part of a panel with this as a topic at Portland State on 4 October 2013, where I discussed the challenges of writing books set in medieval Wales in a genre dominated by the Anglo-Norman medieval experience. This is the video of the whole presentation. (My 10 minutes starts at minute 42.5).

8 Replies to “Should Welsh literature be taught separately from British/English literature?”

  1. All I can say as an avid British nationality reader of books is that I have a keen interest in the history of all parts of the UK as separate entities and I never learned anything about Wales and its history (or Ireland or Scotland for that matter!) and I feel that the diversity of our country is ignored. I’m sure not many feel this way, but I believe that we lost a wealth of culture when these countries were subsumed into the “British Nation”. I wish that we could learn about each country as part of the whole, or even better, as nations in their own right. Sorry if I haven’t expressed my feelings well, I just wanted to share 🙂

  2. “the great stream of English literature” was an ill-chosen expression in my post: it should have been “the great stream of anglophone literature” or “the great stream of literature in English”. Obviously people who are not teaching survey courses are going to have to specialize, but there is no reason why the specialization boundaries should coincide with political ones.

  3. I take the diametrically opposing view: that anglophone literature should be taught as a single subject, whether the author lived or lives in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, India, Jamaica, the U.S., or more than one country, or indeed anywhere else. All these nations have contributed to the great stream of English literature, and none should be privileged over any other. (Are Salman Rushdie’s works Indian, English, British, or American literature? Clearly, all of them.)

    Of course, Welsh literature in Welsh is another matter.

    1. I am not Welsh, so I can’t speak for them, but I do know that many Welsh don’t feel ‘British’ and never have, even 750 years after the conquest of Wales by Edward I. Their experience is not a ‘British’ experience unless by ‘British’ you mean ‘conquered by England’. So Wales gets lumped together with its conqueror and its own literature is dismissed as inferior. I would say that most of the other English speaking countries would argue the same, certainly Ireland and Scotland would.

      The title also acknowledges the reality that Welsh literature is NOT being taught within British literature, which still is composed almost entirely of dead white men and Salman Rushdie.

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