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Enchantment and affect in the borderscapes of Britain and Ireland, 1880–1979

Dr Gareth Roddy’s Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship project examines the role played by borderscapes in the production of identity in Britain and Ireland during the long twentieth century, from the Home Rule debates in the 1880s to the resurgence of nationalism in the 1970s. The project considers how particular landscapes, riverscapes, and seascapes shaped place-based identities through the capacity of their deep historical associations and geographical characteristics to ‘enchant’ human subjects.

Gareth is interested in borderscapes such as Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke, which have retained their cultural power and resisted the modernising and unitary drive of the British state. Building on histories of Britishness and Irishness, and regional studies of landscape and identity, his project historicises encounters with borderscapes, analysing their supposed agency in the troubling contexts of modernity. As the Shropshire novelist Mary Webb put it in The Golden Arrow (1916), the power and ‘haunting presence’ of the Welsh borderlands made them neither person nor place, but ‘fiercer or more beautiful than either’. 

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