Seaside Resorts, the Coastal Experience and Their Representation in the Arts
HJEAS (the Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies) 2021 spring issue will be dedicated to the British seaside resorts with a rich history of reflection across the arts.
Since the Victorians discovered the seaside as relief from congested and dirty cities, places like Bournemouth, Brighton, Blackpool, Margate, Newquay, Swanage, and Whitley Bay became centres of the British tourist industry. Offering an escape of varied length to crowds of people of different social classes and education levels in pursuit of the idea of relaxation, the coastal experience has inspired authors including Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, Alfred Tennyson, Virginia Woolf, L.P. Hartley and Graham Greene, John Banville, Iris Murdoch, and Colm Tóibín. These authors explored different manifestations of the liminal be they the contact and conflict between the land and the sea, nature and culture, respectability and hedonism. At the same time, architects sought to fulfil the desires of the general public with bathing machines and pavilions, lidos, sun terraces, promenades, piers and highly popular amusement parks, like the Dreamland of Margate or the Pleasure Beach of Blackpool. By the first half of the 20th century seaside resorts became spectacles in their own right with short term tourism booming, especially during the two world wars when they (in WWII especially west coast resorts) attracted visitors from all over the country. A similar transformation occurred in Ireland with the Skerries, Ballybunion and Tramore.
Even before coastal towns turned into tourist magnets, the scenic views were captured by the creativity of celebrated British, Irish and American painters including William Turner, Paul Nash, David Cox and Beryl Cook (UK) , John Faulkner, Paul Henry, Sean Keating, Jack B. Yeats, Norah McGuinness and dozens more (Ireland). Before new trends in tourism set in, including cheap overseas travel, the construction of resorts around the Mediterranean, the postwar glory of British seaside resorts were also captured by celebrated photographers, such as Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts, to name a few, who documented in affectionate and humorous images the eccentricities of this uniquely British experience and national tradition. These photographs immortalized the material culture and the experience of holidaymakers enjoying fish ‘n’ chips, donkey rides, and deck chairs as never seen before. Beside photography, filmmakers have also used the visual medium as a mirror of the changing reality of seaside resorts which, since the 1970s saw a gradual decline in popularity. While belonging to different genres and having distinctive styles, film like Bank Holiday (1938), Brighton Rock (1948), Carry on Girls (1973), Quadrophenia (1979), Bhaji on the Beach (1993) Last Resort (2000) and VS. (2018) mirror the changing perceptions of the resorts. Some of the best known British playwrights, including John Osborne with The Entertainer and Harold Pinter with The Birthday Party have chosen seaside resorts as the backdrop of their plays. In Ireland the sea is never far away and playwrights from G.B. Shaw and J. M. Synge to Lennox Robinson and Deidre Kinahan had set their plays there. More recently reality television series, CBS’ Murder by the Sea, has exploited the dubious reputation of these resorts for hosting some of the most remarkable murder cases of British criminal history.
While music has always featured strongly among the entertainment mix of seaside resorts (promenade and military bands, music-hall, variety), the recent upsurge of festivals and similar events are part of the strategy to rebrand these places. The Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, the Tunes on the Sands (Devon) and the Victorious festival in Portsmouth are part of the British music festival circuit, and offer intense experience similar to the numerous festivals with a thematic focus on watersports, seafood, family activities, nature, the new arts, cinema, sand sculpture, folk culture, maritime heritage, etc.
HJEAS welcomes articles that engage critically with relevant aspects of the seaside resorts and the holiday experience, mapping its spatial, cultural and social construction since the 19th century to the present. Editors seek submissions that include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- coastal resorts in literature, screen media, and the fine arts (both in high and popular culture)
- the seaside experience and the photographer as flâneur
- resort architecture: the politics and aesthetics of seaside space (case studies, styles, historical trajectories)
- spatial varieties and dominant topics: different approaches in the representation of British, and Irish resorts on their north/south/east/west coastlines
- resort towns as other spaces (heterotopia, liminality, hybridity, Disneyfication)
- seaside nostalgia, retro and other strategies of cultural memoralization
- the seaside resort and subcultures
- gender, class and ethnicity in representations of coastal resorts
- the holiday atmosphere: carnival, humour and exoticism
- representation of the seaside resort through binaries: the high and the vulgar, respectability and hedonism, fun and boredom
- seaside experience, modernism and postmodernism
- fashion, sunbathing and morality at seaside resorts
- the semiotics of food in coastal tourist centres
- correlations between the tourism industry, the experience industry, and the cultural industry
- holidaymakers and locals: the supply and demand chain of the holiday experience
- the international dimensions of coastal resort representations (comparative case studies)
Please submit your proposal (200-250 words) and a min-bio before 1 March 2020. After the decision on acceptance, full articles are to be submitted by 31 August 2020. Preferred length of articles is between 4000 and 6000 words and should conform to the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook in all matters of style and citation.