Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity explores how the mythical and mystical past informs national imaginations. Building on notions of invented tradition and myths of the nation, it looks at the power of narrative and fiction to shape identity, with particular reference to the British and Celtic contexts. The authors consider how aspects of the past are reinterpreted or reimagined in a variety of ways to give coherence to desired national groupings, or groups aspiring to nationhood and its ‘defence’.
The coverage is unusually broad in its historical sweep, dealing with work from prehistory to the contemporary, with a particular emphasis on the period from the eighteenth century to the present. The subject matter includes notions of ancient deities, Druids, Celticity, the archaeological remains of pagan religions, traditional folk tales, racial and religious myths and ethnic politics, and the different types of returns and hauntings that can recycle these ideas in culture.
Innovative and interdisciplinary, the scholarship in Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity is mainly literary but also geographical and historical and draws on religious studies, politics and the social sciences. Thus the collection offers a stimulatingly broad number of new viewpoints on a matter of great topical relevance: national identity and the politicization of its myths.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Part 1: Prehistory and Paganism 1. Druids in Modern British Fiction: The Unacceptable Face of Celticism, Ronald Hutton 2. Old Deities, New Worlds: The Return of the Gods in Fiction Marion Gibson 3. Uncovering the Deepest Layers of the British Past, 1850-1914, Chris Manias 4. "Dreams of Celtic Kings": Victorian Prehistory and the Notion of ‘Celtic’, Rebecca Welshman 5. "The Truth against the World": Spectrality and the Mystic Past in Late Twentieth-Century Cornwall, Carl Phillips Part 2: Gothic, Romance and Landscape 6. ‘Confined to a Living Grave’: Welsh Poetry, Gothic and the French Revolution, Elizabeth Edwards 7. Fingal in the West Country: The Poems of Ossian and Cultural Myth-making in the South West of England, 1770-1800, Dafydd Moore 8. Geological Folklore: Robert Hunt and the Industrial, Aesthetic and Racial Composition of ‘Celtic’ Cornwall, Shelley Trower 9. Celtic Cultural Politics: Monuments and Mortality in Nineteenth-Century Brittany, Maura Coughlin 10. Spirited Away: Highland Touring, ‘Toctor Shonson’, and the Hauntings of Celtism, Peter Merchant Part 3: Memory, Myth and Politics 11. Cornish Crusaders and Barbary Captives: Returns and Transformations, Jo Esra 12. Re-enacting Scottish History in Europe, David Hesse 13. Reconstructing West Wales: Welsh Representations and Cultural Memories of Cornwall, Garry Tregidga 14. From Apocalyptic Paranoia to the Mythic Nation: Political Extremity and Myths of Origin in the Neo-Fascist Milieu, Andrew Fergus Wilson 15. Albion’s Spectre: Building the New Jerusalem, Jason Whittaker
Marion Gibson is Associate Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter, UK. Her publications include Witchcraft Myths in American Culture (2007), Possession, Puritanism and Print: Darrell, Harsnett, Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Exorcism Controversy (2006) and Reading Witchcraft: Stories of Early English Witches (1990).
Shelley Trower is a Lecturer at the Department of English at the University of Hull, UK. Her publications include Senses of Vibration (2012) and Place, Writing, and Voice in Oral History (2011).
Garry Tregidga is a Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter, UK. His publications include Memory, Place and Identity: The Cultural Landscapes of Cornwall (2012) and Mebyon Kernow and the History of Cornish Nationalism, co edited with Dick Cole and Bernard Deacon (2003).
"Myth Mysticism, and Celtic Identity is an excellent book; it brings together essays from a variety of fields to address historically important and contemporarily relevant questions about the nature of Celtic culture and the continuing status and influence of that culture in the world today." Professor C.W. Sullivan III, East Carolina University, USA
“Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity puts present day celticity to the test of scholarship discussion, challenges worn-out or dangerous perceptions and representations, and resets the perceptions and representations of Celtic identity/ies in a multicultural context. Well built and well informed…Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity is undeniably thought provoking and is a tribute to the vitality of Celtic studies in Britain.” - Yann Bévant, Université Rennes II – UEB