Rocks of nation

The imagination of Celtic Cornwall

By Shelley Trower

Rocks of nation


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9096-7
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: July 2015
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / History of ideas, Earth sciences, geography, environment, planning / Regional geography, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: general, Literature, Literary studies: general, Ireland, Human geography, History of ideas, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Minority Studies, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Regional geography, Literature: history & criticism


Rocks of nation reveals how the imagination of nations and races is grounded in the landscape. In doing so, it makes a striking contribution to theories of nation, offering new insights into how national identity is bound up with materiality. The book provides an in-depth case study of Cornwall and its economy in the wider context of Britain and the rise of nationalist politics, especially in England (UKIP) and Scotland (SNP).

Spanning from the early nineteenth to the twenty-first century, it traces the gradual formation of a cultural consciousness of Cornwall as a distinctively rocky nation through a wide range of literatures, including nineteenth-century geological journals and folklore, Gothic and detective fiction, modernist and romance novels, travel narratives, 'New Age' eco-spiritualism and Cornish nationalist writings. Rocks of nation will be of interest to students and academics across the disciplines, from English literature and cultural geography to Celtic studies, history and politics.


'Does the land beneath our feet define us? Do place have inherent meaning, and if so where do those meanings come from? Shelley Trower's exciting new study, Rocks of Nation, brings together poetry and fiction with geology, folklore, the Gothic, Celtic mysticism and nationalist identity, to offer a long view on Cornwall and the literature of place.'
Liz Edwards, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies,
National Library of Wales, British Society for Literature and Science


1. Primitive rocks: the Geological Societies of London and Cornwall, Humphry Davy and sublime mineral landscapes
2. Rocks and race: geological folklore and Celtic literature, from Cornwall to Scotland
3. On the cliff edge of England: trembling rocks in sensation fiction and empire Gothic
4. Haunted houses and prehistoric stones: savage vibrations in ghost stories and D. H. Lawrence's Kangaroo
5. Living stones and the earth: dreams of belonging in Cornish nationalist and new age environmental writing
6. Clay: de-composed granite in Jack Clemo's anti-nationalist writing


Shelley Trower is Lecturer in English at the University of Roehampton

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