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Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Matthew Ingleby and Matthew P. M. Kerr

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474435734

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474435734.001.0001

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Saxon Shore to Celtic Coast: Diasporic Telegraphy in the Atlantic World

Saxon Shore to Celtic Coast: Diasporic Telegraphy in the Atlantic World

(p.149) Chapter 8 Saxon Shore to Celtic Coast: Diasporic Telegraphy in the Atlantic World
Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century

Brian H. Murray

Edinburgh University Press

Little attention has been paid to the effect of the distinctly Celtic provenance of transatlantic telegraphy: the electrical bond of sympathy between America and Britain, the two great ‘Anglo-Saxon nations’, was facilitated by a cable connecting a series of points on Greater Britain’s ‘Celtic fringe’ – Porthcurno in Cornwall, Valentia Island off County Kerry, and St. John’s, Newfoundland (an island largely populated by Irish Catholic migrants). The ‘annihilation of time and space’ is one of the most persistent clichés surrounding the popular perception of Victorian telecommunications, and yet the telegraph could also enforce the remoteness and isolation of coastal cultures. This chapter explores this topic by analysing representations which run counter to the dominant narrative of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ empire, instead mingling an archaic ‘Celtic Twilight’ with machine dreams of a networked modernity, as the industrial is brought into dramatic collision with the maritime picturesque.

Keywords:   Transatlantic telegraph, History of telecommunications, Celtic fringe, Victorian empire

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