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Enlightened fictions and the romantic nation: contesting ideological formations of Scottish writing over the long eighteenth century

McKeever, Gerard (2011) Enlightened fictions and the romantic nation: contesting ideological formations of Scottish writing over the long eighteenth century. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study engages with the contemporary academic revision of Scottish Romanticism. It attempts to aid an understanding of both how this literature functions ideologically, and the nature of the relationship between this work and the wider British Romantic literary sphere. Central to the topical focus is the issue of Scottish national identity, and how over the 'long eighteenth century' – citing the Union of 1707 as one crucial ideological origin for Scottish Romanticism – Scottish literature develops a highly complex aesthetic framework regarding national identity which is engaged in a multifaceted dialogue on the political, social and economic situation in Scotland during the period. This literature interacts on a number of levels with Scottish Enlightenment thought, and in particular the British historiographical revision enacted by theories of stadial development. However, the question remains whether literature of the period primarily helped to rescue a notion of Scottish identity from annihilation within the British state, or aided the transition from Scotland to ‘North-Britain’ in a political disarming of nationhood through romanticization and antiquarianism. This focus is an essential feature of an attempt in this study to identity the factors which distinguish Scottish Romanticism’s approach to social and political dialogue within the wider British Romantic tradition. In order to address this, a critical framework is developed, drawing upon the work of important scholars in this field, including: Murray Pittock, Ian Duncan, Cairns Craig, Susan Manning and Nigel Leask, and serves as an important departure point. This combines with a focus on the relationship between notions of the aesthetic and political or social engagement – what this study terms polemical material – in literature. Through this critical structure, an analysis of some key ideological features of Scottish Romanticism regarding literature’s engagement with political and social debate is presented. Given the central importance of political and social issues – alongside the development of new aesthetic trends in literature – to not only Scottish Romanticism but the wider British and European Romantic literary canon, this focus facilitates an effective exploration of this literature. A selection of works from key Scottish writers – Robert Burns, James Hogg, Walter Scott and John Galt – provides the main literary focus in an attempt to achieve an understanding of how the theoretical elements of the argument operate in a practical setting. In particular, an extended analysis of Hogg's lesser-studied The Three Perils of Women posits the work as a central text in elucidating some of the central ideological conflicts under investigation. The study also takes account of the relationship between Scottish literature and the wider British Romantic sphere, moving to contextualise this material in light of some canonically-pivotal English examples, while the textual relationships between Scottish Romanticism and the writing of the Scottish Enlightenment are also of keen interest. It is hoped that this project provides a fresh and original contribution to the body of Scottish Romantic studies, yet one which consciously builds upon the strong critical work currently appearing in this field.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Eighteenth century, romanticism, nation, Scotland, Burns, Hogg, Scott, Galt, romantic, enlightenment, aesthetics, long eighteenth century, scottish romanticism, Robert Burns, James Hogg, Walter Scott, John Galt, enlightened
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Benchimol, Dr. Alex
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Mr Gerard McKeever
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3010
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:02
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3010

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