Television and Consumer Culture: Britain and the Transformation of Modernity

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No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review. Best Selling in Nonfiction See all. Open Borders Inc. Save on Nonfiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. You may also like. Modern History Hardcover Nonfiction Books. Literature, Modern Hardcover Books. Television Books. This item doesn't belong on this page. There is no agreed definition so that it is embraced by both many on the Left and the Right with equal fervour. The emphasis on flexibility and diversity can be seen as both a positive characteristic and as a negative one.

There is a complete rejection of any grand theories to explain social phenomena. Iconoclasm is the order of the day. Scepticism replaces certainty. Diverse perspectives are welcomed and difference is celebrated. This relativism with everything being rendered equivalent or anything going with anything sits uncomfortably in a world that can be quite frightening for those who hanker after an ordered world. It is quite easy to see how the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether Christian, Islamic or Jewish, seems attractive to some people afraid that their world is being undermined.

However, what does this mean for the informal educator? Do we, in our day-to-day practice, work on the assumption that values are relative? Can we talk about core values? If difference is celebrated, what about commonality, mutuality and co-operation? How do we work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith and pluralist society? Certainly, these dilemmas are very real. On the one hand, most of us would accept that in any decent society we are all dependent on each other, that we do share many things in common. However, this can appear extremely bland to those who clearly see themselves to be different.

It is very easy to marginalize people by ignoring differences. Who decides who is included in these descriptions and who is excluded? The question of identity is crucial here. We are all unique and have our own distinctiveness but we also have much in common. Being aware of this is essential for informal educators. Take the notions of being black, gay or thin. These are identities that are socially constructed, and given meaning by our fragmented society. However, we have to ask ourselves the question why these socially constructed categories are distinctive and not others.

What is so special about skin colour, sexuality or size that we proclaim them as different? Different to what? By accepting these differences and, even more importantly, celebrating these differences, are we not accepting the status quo? He is black, she is gay, they are thin. So what? Are there no grounds for mutuality and association? Should we not question these differences rather than celebrate them? On the other hand, I can see why, within a fragmented and divided society, those who are regarded as different see those differences as something that should be accepted and not a reason for discrimination or marginalisation.

There is a clear difference here in perspectives. Within the realms of youth and community work, informal educators need to be able to respond and influence the dialectic between commonality and difference. Too much emphasis in our practice on commonality can lead us down the road to ignoring the differences between individuals and the diversity of cultures that abound in our localities and in our workplaces.

Too much emphasis on difference can lead us down the road to separation, segregation and exclusion. Welcoming cultural diversity within our changed society does not mean accepting cultural practices and beliefs without question. This brings us to the question of human agency. We cab pose the question as to whethersociety was an entity outside of individuals that acts upon them or whether individuals act upon society.

We might turn to the problems that C. Wright Mills highlighted between personal troubles and public issues and the need to see the relationship between the two. However, postmodernist writers have tended to move the argument on somewhat. Some of them are distinctively uneasy about the ability of human beings to affect the world we live in.

They see us as corks being tossed about in a turbulent sea of change, being pushed one way then another with no ability to affect the direction we want to go in. Michel Foucault, for example, argued at one point that human societies can be seen as places in which forms of knowledge discourses exercise power over us through the way we think and the way we behave.

This can be seen as being extremely pessimistic from a humanistic perspective and is a view of human agency that poses important questions for informal educators. Foucault did modify his views somewhat so that he later saw discourses as foci for struggle and resistance. However, the idea of the individual subject as a creative autonomous being was certainly something that Foucault rejected.

In this piece we have looked at the changes that have taken place in society over the last few decades and briefly examined the idea that we have now entered into a new postmodern era. This new era has been characterised by a rejection of absolute truths and grand narratives explaining the progressive evolution of society. At the same time it has brought to the surface a multitude of different perspectives on society and an appreciation of different cultures.

It has highlighted globalisation on the one hand and localisation on the other, the celebration of difference and the search for commonality. Henry Giroux, in analysing some of the central assumptions that govern the discourses of modernism and post-modernism together with postmodern feminism, has summed up what these can mean for educators. In doing this, he did not set up one against the others but tried to see how and where they converged. He maintained that within these three traditions,. This is not a call to dismiss the postmodern emphasis on difference, as much as it is an attempt to develop a radical democratic politics that stresses difference within unity … The struggle against racism, class structures, sexism, and other forms of oppression needs to move away from simply a language of critique, and redefine itself as part of a language of transformation and hope.

This shift suggests that educators combine with other cultural workers engaged in public struggles in order to invent languages and provide critical and transformative spaces … that offer new opportunities for social movements to come together. By doing this, we can re-think, and re-experience democracy as a struggle over values, practices, social relations, and subject positions that enlarge the terrain of human capacities and possibilities as a basis for a compassionate social order. Anderson, P.

Traces the genesis, consolidation and consequences of the notion of the postmodern. Beck, U. Towards a new modernity , London: Sage. Berman, M. The experience of modernity , London: Verso. Very influential reading of modernity changing social and economic realities and modernism in art, literature and architecture.

Bernstein, R. Callinicos, A. Giddens, A.

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Examines themes of security versus risk; and trust versus risk. Harvey, D. An enquiry into the origins of cultural change , Oxford: Blackwell. Controversial and refreshing critique of post-modernity — with a concern for economic and cultural transformations. Part one deals with the passage from modernity to post-modernity in popular culture; part two with political-economic transformation; part three with the experience of space and time; and part four with the condition of post-modernity.

Jameson, F. Or, the cultural logic of late capitalism , London: Verso. Selected readings on the postmodern — , London: Verso. Lash, S. Part one deals with cosmopolitan narratives; part two with representation and the transformation of identity; part three with spaces of self and society; and part four looks to modernity and the voice of the other.

Lyotard, J-F. Looks at the status of science, technology and the arts, the significance of technocracy, and the way and flow of information are controlled in the Western world. Explores legitimation, language games, modernism, the postmodern perspective, narrative and scientific knowledge, deligitimation, research and education, and postmodern science as the search for instabilities. Briton, D. Edwards, R. Indie rock was a reaction to the perceived saturation of the music industry by pop, exemplified by Stock Aitken Waterman 's domination of the charts. This continued in the s, as boy bands and girl groups dominated the singles chart, while the Madchester scene helped drive alternative rock and Britpop to the mainstream.

British soul saw a rise that continued into the s, including the global success of Adele. Dance music also saw innovation, with genres such as dubstep and new rave emerging. In contrast to the comparatively homogenous classical and pop genres, each nation of the UK has retained a distinct tradition of folk music. The traditional folk music of England has contributed to several genres, such as sea shanties , jigs , hornpipes and dance music. It has its own distinct variations and regional peculiarities, while musical Morris dancing is an English folk dance known to have existed at least as early as the midth century.

The bagpipes have long been a national symbol of Scotland, and the Great Highland Bagpipe is widely recognised. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads , are ballads of the British Isles from the later medieval period until the 19th century, demonstrating freat regional variety, particularly local traditions such as the Border ballads , which include the particularly influential Ballad of Chevy Chase. British folk groups, such as Fairport Convention , have drawn heavily from these ballads. Similarly, while the national anthem " God Save the Queen " and other patriotic songs such as " Rule, Britannia!

These songs are often used at sporting events where each nation competes individually. Britain has had a significant film industry for over a century. While many films focus on British culture, UK cinema is also marked by its interaction and competition with American and continental European cinema. This had changed by the s, when the governemt encouraged fewer, higher-quality films to be made.

This era also saw the rise of Alfred Hitchcock , who soon moved to the US and become one of the twentieth century's most influential directors. The post-war period was a particular high point for British filmmaking, producing The Third Man and Brief Encounter , which the British Film Institute consider the best and second-best British films respectively. At the end of the decade Hammer Films took advantage of relaxed censorship laws to begin their series of successful horror films.

The beginning of the s saw the British New Wave style develop, influenced by its French counterpart, that sought to depict a wider strata of society in a realistic manner. The s also saw renewed American financial interest in British film, which particularly manifested itself in the development of historical epics , such as Best Picture winners Lawrence of Arabia and A Man for All Seasons ; spy thrillers , including the first films in the James Bond franchise; and films based on ' swinging London ' scene.

The s saw a withdrawal of American support and a retrenchment in British cinema, though the decade did see culturally important productions such as the horror The Wicker Man and Monty Python 's comedic films. Films with racial and LGBT themes were produced, while Channel 4's involvement saw television stars move into feature films. American investment again increased in the s, and the success of Four Weddings and a Funeral saw romantic comedies rise in popularity. Merchant Ivory Productions , boosted by the Oscars success of the previous decade's period pieces, continued to produce films in the same vein.

American studios also began to base the production of Hollywood films in the UK, encouraged by tax incentives. While American-funded films continued their influence in the s, domestic European co-productions also received acclaim. Asian British cinema has risen in prominence since , when East is East was a mainstream success on a low budget. The UK has been at the forefront of developments in film, radio and television. Broadcasting in the UK has historically been dominated by the taxpayer-funded but independently run British Broadcasting Corporation commonly known as the BBC , although other independent radio and television ITV , Channel 4 , Five and satellite broadcasters especially BSkyB which has over 10 million subscribers have become more important in recent years.

BBC television, and the other three main television channels are public service broadcasters who, as part of their licence allowing them to operate, broadcast a variety of minority interest programming. The BBC and Channel 4 are state-owned, though they operate independently. Christmas commercials are screened from early November in the UK, with campaigns including the John Lewis Christmas advert for the department store chain. International football tournaments, such as the World Cup , are historically the most viewed sports events among the public, while Match of the Day is the most popular weekly football show.

Regarded as the leading figure of the satire boom, Peter Cook was ranked number one in the Comedians' Comedian poll. Satire also features heavily in the Grand Theft Auto video game series which has been ranked among Britain's most successful exports.

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Popular comedy duos in television include The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise , with both shows featuring memorable sketches. Jeeves and Wooster starred Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster , an airy, nonchalant, gormless, idle young gentleman and Stephen Fry as Jeeves , his calm, well-informed, and talented valet.

Created by and starring Rik Mayall as Richie and Adrian Edmondson as Eddie, Bottom features two crude, perverted flatmates with no jobs and little money, which is noted for its chaotic, nihilistic humour and violent comedy slapstick. Da Ali G Show starred Sacha Baron Cohen as a faux-streetwise poseur Ali G from west London, who would conduct real interviews with unsuspecting people, many of whom are celebrities, during which they are asked absurd and ridiculous questions.

Aardman also produce the kid's show Shaun the Sheep. First airing in , Blue Peter is famous for its arts and crafts "makes". The show has been a staple for generations of British children. The actor David Jason has voiced a number of popular characters in children's animation, including The Wind in the Willows based on the children's book by Kenneth Grahame , Danger Mouse and Count Duckula. Other children's shows include Where's Wally? Debuting in , The Snowman featuring the festive song " Walking in the Air " is annually screened at Christmas. The pub being a prominent setting in the three major television soap operas reflects the role pubs have as the focal point of the community in many towns and villages across the UK.

Espionage and detective shows have long been a staple of British television, such as the s series The Avengers featuring lady spy adventurer and cultural and feminist icon Emma Peel. The United Kingdom has a large number of national and local radio stations which cover a great variety of programming. The most listened to stations are the five main national BBC radio stations.

BBC Radio 1 , a new music station aimed at the 16—24 age group. BBC Radio 2 , a varied popular music and chat station aimed at adults is consistently highest in the ratings. BBC Radio 4 , a varied talk station, is noted for its news, current affairs , drama and comedy output as well as The Archers , its long running soap opera, and other unique programmes, including Desert Island Discs —present , an interview programme in which a famous guest called a " castaway " chooses eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them to a desert island. Currently presented by Kirsty Young , it is the longest running music radio programme in British history.

The idea for a Christmas message was conceived by one of the founders of the BBC. Delivered annually by the monarch, it was first broadcast on BBC Radio in An alternative Christmas message was first broadcast on Channel 4 in Broadcast from to , radio comedy The Goon Show , starring Peter Sellers , Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe , mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. The show has exerted considerable influence on British comedy and culture. As a film star Sellers in particular became influential to film actors by using different accents and guises and assuming multiple roles in the same film.

Panellists must talk for sixty seconds on a given subject, "without hesitation, repetition or deviation". First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in , the science fiction comedy radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was innovative in its use of music and sound effects. Rock music station Absolute Radio , and sports station Talksport , are among the biggest commercial radio stations in the UK. Freedom of the press was established in Great Britain in Founded by publisher John Walter in , The Times is the first newspaper to have borne that name, lending it to numerous other papers around the world, and is the originator of the widely used Times Roman typeface, created by Victor Lardent and commissioned by Stanley Morison in Founding The Gentleman's Magazine in , Edward Cave coined the term " magazine " for a periodical, and was the first publisher to successfully fashion a wide-ranging publication.

A pioneer of children's publishing, John Newbery made children's literature a sustainable and profitable part of the literary market. On 10 November he became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, and realised that it was impossible to confirm in reference books. Beaver knew that there must be numerous other questions debated throughout the world, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realised that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove successful. His idea became reality when an acquaintance of his recommended University friends Norris and Ross McWhirter who were then commissioned to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records in August Copyright laws originated in Britain with the Statute of Anne also known as the Copyright Act , which outlined the individual rights of the artist.

A right to benefit financially from the work is articulated, and court rulings and legislation have recognised a right to control the work, such as ensuring that the integrity of it is preserved. From the creation of the United Kingdom, the English school of painting is mainly notable for portraits and landscapes, and indeed portraits in landscapes. Among the artists of this period are Joshua Reynolds — , George Stubbs — , and Thomas Gainsborough — Pictorial satirist William Hogarth pioneered Western sequential art, and political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".

Following the work of Hogarth, political cartoons developed in England in the latter part of the 18th century under the direction of James Gillray. Regarded as being one of the two most influential cartoonists the other being Hogarth , Gillray has been referred to as the father of the political cartoon, with his satirical work calling the king George III , prime ministers and generals to account.

The late 18th century and the early 19th century was perhaps the most radical period in British art, producing William Blake — , John Constable — and J. Turner — , three of the most influential British artists, each of whom have dedicated spaces allocated for their work at the Tate Britain.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood PRB achieved considerable influence after its foundation in with paintings that concentrated on religious, literary, and genre subjects executed in a colourful and minutely detailed style. Also associated with it was the designer William Morris , whose efforts to make beautiful objects affordable or even free for everyone led to his wallpaper and tile designs to some extent defining the Victorian aesthetic and instigating the Arts and Crafts movement. Also prominent amongst 20th-century artists was Henry Moore , regarded as the voice of British sculpture, and of British modernism in general.

Sir Jacob Epstein was a pioneer of modern sculpture. The auction was revived in 17th- and 18th-century England when auctions by candle began to be used for the sale of goods and leaseholds, some of which were recorded in Samuel Pepys 's diary in Known for his thickly impasted portrait and figure paintings, Lucian Freud was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time. Posters have played a significant role in British culture.

In the late s, British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson co-founded the graphic art group Hipgnosis , who have designed many iconic single and album covers for rock bands. His works were notable for their surreal elements, with perhaps the most famous being the cover for Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. The subversive political artwork of Banksy pseudonym of English graffiti artist whose identity is concealed can be found on streets, walls and buildings in the UK and the rest of the world.

A total of , votes were cast with Concorde beating other British design icons such as the Mini , mini skirt , Jaguar E-Type , Tube map and the Supermarine Spitfire. Sir Morien Morgan led research into supersonic transport in that culminated in the Concorde passenger aircraft. By the late s the Committee had started the process of selecting specific designs for development, and after the forced merger of most UK aviation firms in , selected the Bristol Type , designed by Archibald Russell , as the basis for a transatlantic design.

Large outdoor music festivals in the summer and autumn are popular, such as Glastonbury the largest greenfield festival in the world , V Festival , Reading and Leeds Festivals. The UK was at the forefront of the illegal, free rave movement from the late s, which led to pan-European culture of teknivals mirrored on the UK free festival movement and associated travelling lifestyle.

Irish dancing is popular in Northern Ireland and among the Irish diaspora throughout the UK; its costumes feature patterns taken from the medieval Book of Kells.

A staple of British seaside culture, the quarrelsome couple Punch and Judy made their first recorded appearance in Covent Garden, London in We soon changed Punch's name, transformed him from a marionette to a hand puppet, and he became, really, a spirit of Britain - a subversive maverick who defies authority, a kind of puppet equivalent to our political cartoons.

The circus is a traditional form of entertainment in the UK. Chipperfield's Circus dates back more than years in Britain, making it one of the oldest family circus dynasties. Philip Astley is regarded as the father of the modern circus. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Joseph Grimaldi , originator of whiteface clown make-up, is considered the father of modern clowning. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. Established in , it takes place in Scotland's capital during three weeks every August alongside several other arts and cultural festivals.

The Fringe mostly attracts events from the performing arts , particularly theatre and comedy, although dance and music also feature. Pantomime often referred to as "panto" is a British musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. Pantomime story lines and scripts are almost always based on traditional children's stories: some of the popular British stories featured include Jack and the Beanstalk , Peter Pan , Babes in the Wood , Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Dick Whittington and His Cat. Plot lines are almost always adapted for comic or satirical effect, and characters and situations from other stories are often interpolated into the plot.

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For example, Jack and the Beanstalk might include references to English nursery rhymes involving characters called "Jack", such as Jack and Jill. Famous people regularly appear in Pantos, such as Ian McKellen. Music hall is a British theatrical entertainment popular from the early Victorian era to the midth century. The precursor to variety shows of today, music hall involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts and variety entertainment.

He just taught us most of it". We in Hollywood owe much to him. Annually held in December often at the London Palladium and performed infront of members of the British Royal Family , many famous acts have performed at the Royal Variety show over the century, and since one act of the show has been selected by the British public through the ITV television talent show Britain's Got Talent. The architecture of the United Kingdom includes many features that precede the creation of the United Kingdom in , from as early as Skara Brae and Stonehenge to the Giant's Ring , Avebury and Roman ruins.

In most towns and villages the parish church is an indication of the age of the settlement.

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Many castles remain from the medieval period, such as Windsor Castle longest-occupied castle in Europe , [86] Stirling Castle one of the largest and most important in Scotland , Bodiam Castle a moated castle , and Warwick Castle. Over the two centuries following the Norman conquest of England of , and the building of the Tower of London , castles such as Caernarfon Castle in Wales and Carrickfergus Castle in Ireland were built.

English Gothic architecture flourished from the 12th to the early 16th century, and famous examples include Westminster Abbey , the traditional place of coronation for the British monarch , which also has a long tradition as a venue for royal weddings ; and was the location of the funeral of Princess Diana , [88] Canterbury Cathedral , one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England; Salisbury Cathedral , which has the tallest church spire in the UK; and Winchester Cathedral , which has the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.

In the United Kingdom, a listed building is a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance. About half a million buildings in the UK have "listed" status. He was employed to design and rebuild many of the ruined ancient churches of London following the Great Fire of London. Both St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace use Portland stone , a limestone from the Jurassic period quarried in the Jurassic Coast in Portland , Dorset, which is famous for its use in British and world architecture.

In the early 18th century Baroque architecture — popular in Europe — was introduced, and Blenheim Palace was built in this era. However, Baroque was quickly replaced by a return of the Palladian form. The Georgian architecture of the 18th century was an evolved form of Palladianism. Many existing buildings such as Woburn Abbey and Kedleston Hall are in this style. Among the many architects of this form of architecture and its successors, neoclassical and romantic , were Robert Adam , Sir William Chambers , and James Wyatt. The aristocratic stately home continued the tradition of the first large gracious unfortified mansions such as the Elizabethan Montacute House and Hatfield House.

Many of these houses are the setting for British period dramas, such as Downton Abbey. During the 18th and 19th centuries in the highest echelons of British society, the English country house was a place for relaxing, hunting in the countryside. Many stately homes have become open to the public: Knebworth House , now a major venue for open air rock and pop concerts — Freddie Mercury 's final live performance with Queen took place at Knebworth on 9 August , [93] Alton Towers , the most popular theme park in the UK, and Longleat , the world's first safari park outside Africa.

In the early 19th century the romantic Gothic revival began in England as a reaction to the symmetry of Palladianism. By the middle of the 19th century, as a result of new technology, one could incorporate steel as a building component: one of the greatest exponents of this was Joseph Paxton , architect of the Crystal Palace.

Paxton also built such houses as Mentmore Towers , in the still popular retrospective Renaissance styles. In this era of prosperity and development British architecture embraced many new methods of construction, but such architects as August Pugin ensured that traditional styles were retained. Following the building of the world's first seaside pier in July in Ryde , Isle of Wight off the south coast of England, the pier became fashionable at seaside resorts in the UK during the Victorian era, peaking in the s with 22 being built. At the beginning of the 20th century a new form of design, arts and crafts , became popular; the architectural form of this style, which had evolved from the 19th-century designs of such architects as George Devey , was championed by Edwin Lutyens.

Arts and crafts in architecture is characterised by an informal, non-symmetrical form, often with mullioned or lattice windows, multiple gables and tall chimneys. This style continued to evolve until World War II. After that war, reconstruction went through a variety of phases, but was heavily influenced by Modernism , especially from the late s to the early s.

Many bleak town centre redevelopments—criticised for featuring hostile, concrete-lined "windswept plazas"—were the fruit of this interest, as were many equally bleak public buildings, such as the Hayward Gallery. Many Modernist-inspired town centres are today being redeveloped: Bracknell town centre is an example. However, in the immediate post-War years many thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands of council houses in vernacular style were built, giving working-class people their first experience of private gardens and indoor sanitation.

Many towns also feature statues or sculptures dedicated to famous natives. Modernism remains a significant force in UK architecture, although its influence is felt predominantly in commercial buildings. Described by The Guardian as the 'Queen of the curve', Zaha Hadid liberated architectural geometry with the creation of highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life. Modernist architect Nicholas Grimshaw designed the Eden Project in Cornwall, which is the world's largest greenhouse.

British comics in the early 20th century typically evolved from illustrated penny dreadfuls of the Victorian era featuring Sweeney Todd , Dick Turpin and Varney the Vampire. A growing consumer culture and an increased capacity for travel throughout the UK via the invention of railway in created both a market for cheap popular literature, and the ability for it to be circulated on a large scale. By the weekly circulation of both reached two million. In Tiger comics introduced Roy of the Rovers , the hugely popular football based strip recounting the life of Roy Race and the team he played for, Melchester Rovers.

The stock media phrase "real 'Roy of the Rovers' stuff" is often used by football writers, commentators and fans when describing displays of great skill, or surprising results that go against the odds, in reference to the dramatic storylines that were the strip's trademark.

Other comic books and graphic novels such as Eagle , Valiant , Warrior , and AD also flourished. Created by Emma Orczy in , the Scarlet Pimpernel is the alter ego of Sir Percy Blakeney, a wealthy English fop who transforms into a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking escape artist, establishing the "hero with a secret identity " into popular culture.

In the s, a resurgence of British writers and artists gained prominence in mainstream comic books, which was dubbed the " British Invasion " in comic book history. These writers and artists brought with them their own mature themes and philosophy such as anarchy , controversy and politics common in British media, but were never before seen in American comics.

These elements would pave the way for mature and "darker and edgier" comic books that would jump start the Modern Age of Comics. Much of the folklore of the United Kingdom pre-dates the 18th century. Though some of the characters and stories are present throughout all of the UK, most belong to specific countries or regions.

Common folkloric beings include pixies , giants , elves , bogeymen , trolls , goblins and dwarves. While many legends and folk-customs are thought to be ancient, such as the tales of Offa of Angeln and Weyland Smith , others date from after the Norman invasion of England, such as Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood and their battles with the Sheriff of Nottingham. During the High Middle Ages tales originated from Brythonic traditions, notably the Arthurian legend.

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Another early figure from British tradition , King Cole , may have been based on a real figure from Sub-Roman Britain. Many of the tales make up part of the wider Matter of Britain , a collection of shared British folklore. The legendary monster has been affectionately referred to by the nickname "Nessie" since the s. The leprechaun figures large in Irish folklore. A mischievous fairy-type creature in emerald green clothing who when not playing tricks spends all its time busily making shoes, the leprechaun is said to have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow , and if ever captured by a human it has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for release.

In mythology, English fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer helped form the modern perception of giants as stupid and violent, while the dwarf Tom Thumb is a traditional hero in English folklore. English fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears is one of the most popular fairy tales in the English language. The Gremlin is part of Royal Air Force folklore dating from the s, with "gremlin" being RAF slang for a mischievous creature that sabotages aircraft, meddling in the plane's equipment.

Lovett who sells pies made from Todd's victims , and serial killer Jack the Ripper.

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On 5 November, people in England make bonfires, set off fireworks and eat toffee apples in commemoration of the foiling of Guy Fawkes ' Gunpowder Plot , which became an annual event after the Thanksgiving Act of was passed. Halloween is a traditional and much celebrated holiday in Scotland and Ireland on the night of 31 October. Other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires , and having firework displays. Mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish migration in the 19th century popularised Halloween in North America. Witchcraft has featured in the British Isles for millennia. The use of a crystal ball to foretell the future is attributed to the druids.

In medieval folklore King Arthur 's magician, the wizard Merlin , carried around a crystal ball for the same purpose. John Dee , consultant to Elizabeth I , frequently used a crystal ball to communicate with the angels. The ghost of Anne Boleyn is a frequently reported ghost sighting in the UK.

Differing accounts include seeing her ghost ride up to Blickling Hall in a coach drawn by a headless horseman, with her own head on her lap. Modern witchcraft began in England in the early 20th century with notable figures such as Aleister Crowley and the father of Wicca Gerald Gardner , before expanding westward in the s.

Crowley the founder of Thelema was described as "the most notorious occultist magician of the 20th century", and he remains an influential figure over Western esotericism and the counter-culture. English Heritage is the government body with a broad remit of managing the historic sites, artefacts and environments of England.

It is currently sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The northernmost point of the Roman Empire, Hadrian's Wall , is the largest Roman artefact anywhere: it runs a total of 73 miles in northern England. Historic Environment Scotland is the executive agency of the Scottish Government , responsible for historic monuments in Scotland, such as Stirling Castle. Balmoral Castle is the main Scottish residence of the Queen.

A statue of Robert the Bruce and a large monument and visitor centre operated by the National Trust for Scotland is located in Bannockburn near the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Many of Wales' great castles, such as the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd and other monuments, are under the care of Cadw , the historic environment service of the Welsh Government.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency promotes and conserves the natural and built environment in Northern Ireland, and the Giant's Causeway on the north-east coast is one of the natural World Heritage sites. Tintagel Castle is a popular tourist destination in Cornwall, with the castle associated with the legend of King Arthur since the 12th century. The British Museum in London with its collection of more than seven million objects, [] is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world, and sourced from every continent, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present.

On display since , the Rosetta Stone is the most viewed attraction. The Natural History Museum, London was established by Richard Owen who coined the term " dinosaur " to display the national collection of dinosaur fossils and other biological and geological exhibits. The Titanic Belfast museum, a visitor attraction in the Titanic Quarter , east Belfast, Northern Ireland on the regenerated site of the shipyard where Titanic was built, was opened to the public in The most senior art gallery is the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square , which houses a collection of over 2, paintings dating from the midth century to The Tate galleries house the national collections of British and international modern art; they also host the famously controversial Turner Prize.

The National Museum of Art, Wales, opened in The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh holds 7 million books, 14 million printed items such as the last letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots and over 2 million maps. Blue plaques , the oldest historical marker scheme in the world, are permanent signs installed in a public places to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event. Events commemorated by plaques include John Logie Baird 's first demonstration of television at 22 Frith Street , Westminster, W1, London, the first sub 4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track , and a sweet shop in Llandaff , Cardiff that commemorates the mischief by a young Roald Dahl who put a mouse in the gobstoppers jar.

From the time of the Scientific Revolution , England and Scotland, and thereafter the United Kingdom, have been prominent in world scientific and technological development. The Royal Society serves as the national academy for sciences, with members drawn from different institutions and disciplines. Formed in , it is one of the oldest learned societies still in existence. Sir Isaac Newton 's publication of the Principia Mathematica ushered in what is recognisable as modern physics.

The first edition of and the second edition of framed the scientific context of the foundation of the United Kingdom. He realised that the same force is responsible for movements of celestial and terrestrial bodies, namely gravity. He is the father of classical mechanics , formulated as his three laws and as the co-inventor with Gottfried Leibniz of differential calculus.

He also created the binomial theorem , worked extensively on optics , and created a law of cooling. Figures from the UK have contributed to the development of most major branches of science. John Napier introduced logarithms in the early 17th century as a means to simplify calculations. Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell unified the electric and magnetic forces in what are now known as Maxwell's equations.

Following his publication of A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field in , Maxwell predicted the existence of radio waves in Naturalist Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species and discovered the principle of evolution by natural selection. James Hutton , founder of modern geology, worked on the age of the Earth deep time which forms a key element of Darwin's theory.

Other important geologists include Charles Lyell , author of Principles of Geology , who also coined the term Pleistocene , and Adam Sedgwick , who proposed and coined the name of the Cambrian Period. Paul Dirac was one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics. Botanist Robert Brown discovered the random movement of particles suspended in a fluid Brownian motion.

John Stewart Bell created Bell's Theorem. Harold Kroto discovered buckminsterfullerene. Other 19th- and early 20th-century British pioneers in their field include Joseph Lister antiseptic surgery , Edward Jenner vaccination , Richard Owen palaeontology , coined the term Dinosaur , Florence Nightingale nursing , Sir George Cayley aerodynamics , William Fox Talbot photography , and Howard Carter modern archaeology , discovered Tutankhamun. Scholarly descriptions of dinosaur bones first appeared in the late 17th-century England.

Between and , William Buckland discovered fossils of Megalosaurus and became the first person to describe a dinosaur in a scientific journal. The second dinosaur genus to be identified, Iguanodon , was discovered in by Mary Ann Mantell. In , Gideon Mantell discovered fossils of a third dinosaur, Hylaeosaurus. Owen recognised that the remains of the three new species that had been found so far shared a number of distinctive features. He decided to present them as a distinct taxonomic group, dinosaurs. John Harrison invented the marine chronometer , a key piece in solving the problem of accurately establishing longitude at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long-distance sea travel.

The aquarium craze began in Victorian England when Philip Henry Gosse created and stocked the first public aquarium at London Zoo in , and coined the term "aquarium" when he published The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea in A crucial advance in the development of the flush toilet was the S-trap invented by Alexander Cumming in — it uses the standing water to seal the outlet of the bowl, preventing the escape of foul air from the sewer.

They patented it in May as an alarm system, and it was first successfully demonstrated on 25 July between Euston and Camden Town in London. Postal reformer Sir Rowland Hill is regarded as the creator of the modern postal service and the inventor of the postage stamp Penny Black — with his solution of pre-payment facilitating the safe, speedy and cheap transfer of letters. Forming the mathematical foundations of computing , Boolean logic laid the foundations for the information age.

Historically, many of the UK's greatest scientists have been based at either Oxford or Cambridge University , with laboratories such as the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge and the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford becoming famous in their own right. In modern times, other institutions such as the Red Brick and New Universities are catching up with Oxbridge. For instance, Lancaster University has a global reputation for work in low temperature physics. Technologically, the UK is also amongst the world's leaders. Historically, it was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution , with innovations especially in textiles, the steam engine , railroads, machine tools and civil engineering.

Maudslay's most influential invention was the screw-cutting lathe , a machine which created uniformity in screws and allowed for the application of interchangeable parts a prerequisite for mass production : it was a revolutionary development necessary for the Industrial Revolution. The UK has the oldest railway networks in the world, with the Stockton and Darlington Railway , opened in , the first public railway to use steam locomotives.

Opened in , London Underground is the world's first underground railway. Josiah Wedgwood pioneered the industrialisation of pottery manufacture. In , Edgar Purnell Hooley added tar to the mix and named it Tarmac short for tarmacadam. Probably the greatest driver behind the modern use of concrete was Smeaton's Tower built by John Smeaton in the s. The third Eddystone Lighthouse the world's first open ocean lighthouse , Smeaton pioneered the use of hydraulic lime in concrete. Situated 11 miles off east Scotland, it is the world's oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse.

Portland cement , the most common type of cement in general use around the world as a basic ingredient of concrete, was developed in England in the 19th century. It was coined by Joseph Aspdin in he named it after Portland stone , and further developed by his son William Aspdin in the s. Since then, the UK has continued this tradition of technical creativity. Alan Turing leading role in the creation of the modern computer , Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell the first practical telephone , John Logie Baird world's first working television system, first electronic colour television , Frank Whittle co-invented the jet engine — powered by Whittle's turbojet engines, the Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during World War II, Charles Babbage devised the idea of the computer , Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.

Pioneers of fertility treatment Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards , achieved conception through IVF world's first "test tube baby" in Douglas , is regarded as a contender for the first video game. Dolly the sheep , the first mammal successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell by scientists at Roslin Institute in Edinburgh , became a celebrity in the s.

The Industrial Revolution began in Britain due to the social, economic and political changes in the country during the previous centuries. The stable political situation in Britain from around following the Glorious Revolution , in contrast to other European countries where absolute monarchy remained the typical form of government, can be said to be a factor in favouring Britain as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Britain also had high quality coal. Historian Jeremy Black states, "an unprecedented explosion of new ideas, and new technological inventions, transformed our use of energy, creating an increasingly industrial and urbanised country. Roads, railways and canals were built.

Great cities appeared. Scores of factories and mills sprang up. Our landscape would never be the same again. It was a revolution that transformed not only the country, but the world itself. Pottery manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the Industrial Revolution. Meeting the demands of the consumer revolution and growth in wealth of the middle classes that helped drive the Industrial Revolution in Britain, Wedgwood created goods such as soft-paste porcelain tableware bone china , which was starting to become a common feature on dining tables.

With his role in the marketing and manufacturing of James Watt 's steam engine, and invention of modern coinage , Matthew Boulton is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in history. Selling Welsh flannel , he created mail order catalogues, with customers able order by mail for the first time, and the goods were delivered by railway. The UK has had a long history of car making. In addition to the company's reputation for superior engineering quality in its cars, Rolls-Royce Limited was known for manufacturing the high-powered "R" engines, including the iconic Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine which was used for many World War II aircraft.

Bentley in in Cricklewood , North London, and, like Rolls Royce, is regarded as a British luxury automobile icon. Aston Martin was founded in by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford , and became associated with luxury grand touring cars in the s and s, and with the fictional British spy James Bond. Jaguar was founded in The Jaguar E-Type sports car was released in ; Enzo Ferrari called it "the most beautiful car ever made".

The Land Rover launched in and specialises in four-wheel-drive. The Mini was released by the British Motor Corporation in and became a s cultural icon. The performance versions, the Mini Cooper, was a successful rally car. It has been named Britain's favourite car in a poll. The United Kingdom was created as an Anglican Christian country, and Anglican churches remain the largest faith group in each country of the UK except Scotland, where Anglicanism is a small minority.

William Tyndale 's s translation of the Bible was the first to be printed in English, and was a model for subsequent English translations, notably the King James Version in The Book of Common Prayer of was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English, and the marriage and burial rites have found their way into those of other denominations and into the English language. In 17th-century England, the Puritans condemned the celebration of Christmas. The calendar reform became a major point of tension between the Anglicans and Puritans.

King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old-style Christmas generosity. Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities; and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. Following the Restoration, Poor Robins Almanack contained the lines:. The diary of James Woodforde, from the latter half of the 18th century, details Christmas observance and celebrations associated with the season over a number of years.

In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In , Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol that helped revive the "spirit" of Christmas and seasonal merriment. Dickens repeats the phrase at the end of the story; symbolic of Scrooge's change of heart. In the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Henry Cole , leading to the exchange of festive greeting cards among the public. The movement coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism , which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.

In , the future Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights , ornaments , and presents placed round it. The oldest and largest youth charity in the world, its aim is to support young people to belong, contribute and thrive in their communities.

It seeks to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry. The UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world — a legacy of the British Empire. It is the ultimate legislative authority in the United Kingdom: the devolved parliaments and assemblies in Scotland , Northern Ireland and Wales are not sovereign bodies and could be abolished by the UK Parliament, despite each being established following public approval as expressed in a referendum.

The UK's two major political parties are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party , who between them won out of seats in the House of Commons at the most recent general election. The Scottish National Party Scotland only lost 21 of their seats in the House of Commons from the previous election; they remained the third-largest party by seats held, despite the Liberal Democrats making gains. The United Kingdom has an uncodified constitution , the Constitution of the United Kingdom , consisting mostly of a collection of disparate written sources, including statutes , judge-made case law , and international treaties.

As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and "constitutional law," the UK Parliament can perform "constitutional reform" simply by passing Acts of Parliament and thus has the political power to change or abolish almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution. However, no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. British constitutional documents include Magna Carta foundation of the "great writ" Habeas corpus — safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary state action , the Bill of Rights one provision granting freedom of speech in Parliament , Petition of Right , Habeas Corpus Act and Parliament Acts and admin