PhD Research

Title: Cornish Carols: Heritage in California and South Australia

My PhD was based at Cardiff University’s School of Music with co-supervision at the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter. The project was supported by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Cornish families left Cornwall to work in the colonies and new worlds, resulting in the establishment of ‘little Cornwalls’ in America, Africa and Australasia in addition to elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Existing scholarship had shown that these ‘little Cornwalls’ retained many cultural characteristics and practices from home. Through examining musics of Cornish migrant communities, my project documented Christmas carolling traditions of Cornish diaspora in Grass Valley and California, examining how the performance of carol repertoire, and the heritage narratives associated with them, developed and evolved from their appearance in the 19th century towards contemporary practice.

The research involved several international research trips, including two visits to Kernewek Lowender (South Australia’s biannual Cornish festival),  singing with Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir at Cornish Christmas, and a five month fellowship at the Library of Congress. I used a range of methods to approach the study, developing historical ethnography from archival sources, musical manuscripts and historical newspaper reports, while developing richly textured thick descriptions of contemporary practice through extended fieldwork, interviews with tradition bearers and participant observation.

Awards and Funding

I am grateful to acknowledge the funding and support I received from various bodies during the course of my PhD.

In 2015 I received a full studentship from the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnerhip (SWW DTP), which is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

I was also awarded a 2016 AHRC Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress, via the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme.

In addition, my project has received support from The Q Fund, through Cornwall Council, Cornwall Heritage Trust, and the Cawthra Fund through the University of Exeter.

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