University of Buckingham: The English Country House 1485-1945

InstitutionUniversity of Buckingham
Department London-based
Web http://www.buckingham.ac.uk
Email humanitiespg-admissions@buckingham.ac.uk
Telephone 01208 820227
Study type Research

Summary

This course is to be an interdisciplinary programme enabling students to examine, by way of a thesis, aspects of the history of the English country house between 1485 and 1945. Students will be encouraged to consider the interrelation of architectural history, art history and social history in the evolution of the country house as a political powerhouse, a setting for the display of art and craftsmanship, a self-contained community and a symbol of continuity and loss in a changing world.

The seminar programme, which serves to complement the student’s individual research, will explore these themes in a series of ten meetings which will be addressed by some of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished country house historians. These will be prefaced by an introduction to research techniques, with particular reference to the use of primary sources such as inventories, estate records and collections of private papers; an introduction to relevant library resources available in London and through the University of Buckingham’s online subscriptions; and an introduction to the most recent academic approaches to the subject.

Each seminar will take place in the early evening, followed by a 40-minute question-and-answer session with the seminar speaker, and a dinner at which there will be further questioning of the speaker and a general conversation about the topic in hand. Four seminars will be scheduled for the period between October and December, and a further six in the period between the New Year and March.

The programme begins with an overview of the architectural and social history of the country house and an examination of recent academic perspectives on the subject, including the latest thematic and period-based approaches and studies of particular mansions and individual architects from Robert Smythson to Sir Edwin Lutyens. It goes on to discuss the changing function of the country house between 1485 and 1945, and to explore how architectural form has been modified by social change.

A series of seminar papers will then explore architectural style; the mechanics of building, owning and living in a country house; and the wider cultural context, which has seen the country house playing a crucial role in the invention of the past, from Ben Jonson’s ‘To Penshurst’ to Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

MA (Res)

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