Why fewer US students want to learn about UK these daysBreaking News
tags: British history, education, history, UK history
It's Friday afternoon at the University of Texas at Austin, which means it's time for sherry and a weekly lecture on British studies. The complimentary libation is served on a silver tray next to a large stuffed lion, a jovial nod to England's national animal and the country's lionised literary past.
Recent talks have included Revisiting Brideshead Revisited, Churchill's Most Difficult Decisions and The Novels of Benjamin Disraeli and Oscar Wilde.
The audience leans toward the mature end of the spectrum - one ex-faculty member who attends is 97 years old. A few undergraduate and graduate students are dotted around but they are definitely in the minority.
British studies is up against shifting trends in American universities as history and English departments focus less on Western Europe and more on other parts of the world.
America quit being a British colony almost 250 years ago but until recently the UK loomed large culturally.
"As a field, British Studies was inflated in relation to other parts of the world during the 20th Century," says Jason Kelly, director of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Arts and Humanities Institute.
"Folks have become more concerned about other places and interests around the globe, which I have to say is increasingly productive for thinking about the world, and more in tune with the challenges we face as a global community."
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