HL90 FU: British Soft Power from Shakespeare to Dua Lipa

Looking for classes this semester? Don’t stop now! You’ll want to check out Laura Quinton’s new HL90, “British Soft Power from Shakespeare to Dua Lipa”!

What inspired you to teach this class?

I’m British, but I’ve lived in the U.S. for many years. I’m often struck by how fascinated Americans are with British culture – accents, TV shows, actors, musicians, books, the Premier League, Prince Harry… the list goes on. American media coverage of British politics and culture is also considerable. In this course, we’ll explore the history of “Anglophilia” in and beyond the U.S. and examine key British cultural products in order to think deeply about Britain’s past and present influence around the world.

What is a text/object/something you’re excited to share with students?

I’m excited to hear the class’s thoughts on Christopher Nolan’s 2017 film Dunkirk. A global box office hit, the movie stars Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, and many other famous actors; its champions include the Brexiteer Nigel Farage. We’ll talk about Nolan’s directorial choices as well as the extent to which the film upholds myths about Britain and the Second World War.

What’s something surprising students might not know about this topic?

That dance has played a key role in British diplomacy around the world since the mid-twentieth century.

What does your class help us understand about the present?

We’ll explore how international influence operates not only through formal politics, economics, and military actions, but also through subtle, less expected channels like culture and art. These latter forces have helped Britain stay relevant in the world today.

How can students learn more?

Prospective students can visit the course Canvas page, or email me at lquinton@fas.harvard.edu.

Published by Hist & Lit

Committee on Degrees in History & Literature at Harvard University

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