Speaker at the Institute of Historical Research

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Description of Activity

Gave talk entitled 'Coast of Teeth: Conceptualizing Seaside Towns as a Writer and Artist.'

In addition to reporting on the intimate, human consequences of these large-scale crises, we wanted through our fieldwork to understand how the English seaside is popularly imagined and culturally framed. Before setting off we had our suspicions that seaside towns are not only geographically but socially and culturally far from England’s land-locked heart and the myths associated with it: village cricket, rolling meadows, ‘Old London Town’ and so forth. Moreover, the contemporary travel and psychogeographical writing we were already fans of has tended to spotlight what you might call ‘inland England’. This could include Robert Macfarlane’s fascination for ancient rural byways or Alan Moore’s preoccupation with his hometown of Northampton because it is, he argues, ‘right at the centre of the country, and so all of England’s inner conflicts have more or less passed through it.’ Those other modern chroniclers of inland England, Iain Sinclair and Nick Papadimitriou, have a penchant for ‘edgelands’ that muddy the boundaries between country and city. None of the above seem terribly interested in the damp far edges of our island nation.
But we’d suggest that seaside towns, too, are liminal spaces given their ambivalent location between land and sea, metropole and periphery, home and abroad. This ‘in-betweenness’ makes for contradictions between wealth and poverty, frivolity and misery, familiarity and alienness, past and present, fact and fantasy.
Period3 Feb 2022
Held atInstitute of Historical Research, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Reportage drawing
  • journalism
  • travel writing
  • Cultural Studies