In a podcast, Prof. Ina Habermann and some students of her research seminar “The Road to Brexit” present their findings about the reasons why so many Britons voted to leave the EU.

When on June 23, 2016 the majority of Britons voted ‘Leave’, many people in the UK and all over the world were surprised. Few had foreseen this outcome. People asked: What should be done now? What would the future bring? And above all: How could it come to this? This was the central issue Prof. Habermann decided to explore in a research seminar at the University of Basel’s English department in the autumn term 2017. Building on an SNF research project about British Discourses of Europe, together with her students she traced the ‘road to Brexit’. As they looked at the various cultural contexts, it became ever clearer that the decision did not come out of the blue, and that Euroscepticism had been growing for some time in the fertile soil of historical entanglements between Britain and Continental Europe. In eleven contributions, the students address various topics such as the influence of the British press, imperial nostalgia and the myth of the ‘island fortress’, which have an impact on the riddled relationship between Britain and Continental Europe.   

Editor & presenter:  Prof. Ina Habermann
Participants:Sam Ammann, Lukas Aresta, Dario Barone, Stefan Bongers, Denise Borchardt, Melanie Frey, Flavia Giudice, Duco Hordijk, Daniela Keller, Lesley Löw, Magalie Nanchen, Nataša Pavković, Isabelle Wirth-Möckel, Michelle Witen, Laura Zahn
Producer:         Ania Mauruschat
Sound Engineer:     Sebastian Schell, New Media Center, University of Basel
Post-production:       Lenja Gathmann & Theda Schifferdecker
Music:"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" (W. Kent/N. Burton), sung by Vera Lynn (1942)

Listen to the podcast here:

NoAuthor(s)TitleRec. timeSpeaker(s)

Duco Hordijk

Rethinking Britain and the European Union: The Importance of the Press

2’11 – 6’33

Duco Hordijk, Ania Mauruschat


Dario Barone & Melanie Frey

Imperial Nostalgia – The Message of the TV-Series Victoria and Taboo

7’30 – 12’16 Melanie Frey, Sam Ammann

Isabelle Wirth-Möckel

Us vs. Them – The Legacy of Winston Churchill12’42 – 19’26Isabelle Wirth-Möckel

Magalie Nanchen

The Spirit of Dunkirk

20’39 – 25’50 Magalie Nanchen, Sam Ammann

Flavia Giudice

The Uses of Invasion Scare Literature for the ‘Leave Campaign’

26’14 – 31’10

Flavia Giudice, Sam Ammann

Lukas Aresta

John Bull’s Road to Brexit

35’19 – 40’23

Lukas Aresta, Sam Ammann
7.Laura Zahn

Brexit in a Literary Way: The Post-Brexit Novel Autumn by Ali Smith

41’17 – 46’03Lesley Löw, Daniela Keller, Ania Mauruschat, Michelle Witen
8.Lesley LöwMy Country: A dramatic Work in Progress by Carol Ann Duffy & Rufus Norris

46’33 – 51’51 Lesley Löw, Daniela Keller,
Michelle Witen
9.Nataša Pavković

James Robertson’s Highlander-Novel To Be Continued

52’51 – 58’38

Nataša Pavković, Sam Ammann, Lesley Löw
10.Denise Borchardt

T2 – From Trainspotting to Window Dressing

59’07 – 63’40 Denise Borchardt, Sam Ammann
11.Stefan Bongers

Great Britain and the EU from a European Perspective – Robert Menasse’s Novel Die Hauptstadt

Translator of literary quotes: Jamie Bulloch

64’10 – 68’16

Stefan Bongers, Sam Ammann