ABSTRACT

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book is to disrupt the habitual association of the rural with the past and to re-cast the non-metropolitan realm as an active site of modernity. Alain Corbin's (1998) study of nineteenth century French villages shows how the range in which the sound of the church bells could be heard was a marker of the village territory. The term non-metropolitan throughout this book, it signals some of the problematics which surround the description and theorisation of the English countryside. In more recent times the conflation of country and countryside was famously put to political use by John Major when, as Prime Minister in 1993, he made a speech designed to reassure Euro-sceptic MPs of the security of Britain as a sovereign nation. The close relationship between everyday life and visual culture has been significantly reflected in contemporary cultural production.