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Palgrave Macmillan


Writing the British Seaside

  • Book
  • © 2020


  • Features nature writing and ecocriticism from literary scholars, sociologists, archaeologists, creative writers and more
  • Draws on the fields of new materialism, ecocriticism, affect theory and other theoretical threads related to the environment
  • Joins creative and critical writing to chart sands’ significance in science, literature, politics, and culture

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About this book

Sandscapes: Writing the British Seaside reflects on the unique topography of sand, sandscapes, and the seaside in British culture and beyond. This book brings together creative and critical writings that explore the ways sand speaks to us of holidays and respite, but also of time and mortality, of plenitude and eternity. Drawing together writers from a range of backgrounds, the volume explores the environmental, social, personal, cultural, and political significance of sand and the seaside towns that have built up around it. The contributions take a variety of forms including fiction and nonfiction and cover topics ranging from sand dunes to sand mining, from seaside stories to shoreline architecture, from sand grains to global sand movements, from narratives of the setting up of bed and breakfasts to stories of seaside decline. Often a symbol of aridity, sand is revealed in this book to be an astonishingly fertile site for cultural meaning.

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Table of contents (14 chapters)


“This book leads us down to the shore along many criss-crossing pathways, turning our attention from the horizon towards the sandscape—an unruly, granular, shapeshifting zone—to explore its ingrained mysteries and materiality. Precise and curious as a strandline bird and playful as a beach burial, it’s a book for anybody who has ever absent-mindedly tipped sand from their shoe and allowed a sun-burned day to unspool.” (Paul Farley, author of Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness (2011))

 “As Sandscapes recognises, British identity is built on sand. For two hundred years, nation, family, and community were affirmed at the seaside. Individual lives were etched in the space between the tides. This fascinating collection responds equally to the public and the personal, the unmistakable, and the uncertain in the meanings of sand. Its own variety of forms—fiction, criticism history, and autobiography—brilliantly reflects the multiplicity of this shifting and central, fluid substance.” (Ralph Pite, Professor of English, University of Bristol, UK, and author of Hardy’s Geography: Wessex and the Regional Novel (Palgrave 2002)) 

Sandscapes is a richly diverse collection in which scholars and creative writers explore how sand shapes and disturbs our imaginations. The book attends to the vibrancy as well as poignancy of estuaries, dunes, and shorelines. Memory plays a strong part, as does the culture of the British seaside holiday. Morecambe Bay provides a central locus, with all its significance. Literary geographies, mapping, and environmental history add just the right balance of theoretical methodology along with science.” (Susan Oliver, Professor in Literature, University of Essex, UK)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

    Jo Carruthers

  • Arab Open University, Ardiya, Kuwait

    Nour Dakkak

About the editors

Jo Carruthers is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, UK. Her books include: The Politics of Purim: Law, Sovereignty and Hospitality in the Aesthetic Afterlives of Esther (2020) and a cultural history of simplicity in England's Secular Scripture: Islamophobia and the Protestant Aesthetic (2011).

Nour Dakkak is Assistant Professor at the Arab Open University, Kuwait, where she teaches humanities and literature. She is the co-editor of Anticipatory Materialisms in Literature and Philosophy (Palgrave 2020) with Jo Carruthers and Becky Spence and is working on a book of E. M. Forster’s materialities.

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