Cornwall summary: Nationalism

The study of Cornish culture, and Celtic studies more generally, often leads to discussions of nationalism. Given issues with North Ireland, Corsica, Soviet Union, Zulu, and Burma, ideas about nationhood are extremely important. Because a nation is partly imagined, beyond what history can prove, does not mean it is imaginary or insignificant. When a group is too big for every member to know every other member, the group is defined by shared beliefs, language, or ethnicity. Newcomers are expected to assimilate or remain outsiders.

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Romantic Misrepresentation of Cornwall

‘There is a tinge of superiority felt by holiday makers and newcomers. Patronizing quaint little towns is a pseudoromantic pixies-and-elves approach. It took me years to throw this ridiculous attitude and get to know Cornwall.” (Winston Graham in Poldark’s Cornwall)

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Cornwall & Celtic Studies

Did you know that if a book adds the word celtic to its title, its sales will quadruple? But what does “Celtic” actually mean?

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Arriving in Cornwall: First Impressions


I went to Cornwall at the height of tourist season (July 19-August 7) which meant crowding and price hikes in transportation and lodging. But there were benefits as well: everything was open late and I got to observe the other painfully touristy visitors to Cornwall firsthand. The ridiculous souveneirs were everywhere: anything with a pirate or seashell or authentic Cornish phrase on it was pushed on the shoppers. I even a stuffed pasty in one store. Imagine a store selling a calzone with pigtails and googly eyes. It’s just not right and left me wondering- do people actually buy them?

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Cornish reading list


I leave for Cornwall on Monday, and will hopefully have more blog-worthy material than I know what to do with. My summer thus far has been spent planning logistics and doing a lot of reading. Not a bad way to spend a summer. In addition to my actual research topic, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about working at home.

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