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Gender, national identity and political agency in eighteenth-century Scotland

Carr, Rosalind (2008) Gender, national identity and political agency in eighteenth-century Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis considers the interrelationship between the discourse and performance of gender, national identity and political agency in Scotland during the Union debates of 1706-07 and the mid-to-late eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment. These two periods are offered in contrast to each other in order to demonstrate the means by which changing discourses of gender and national identity impacted upon the performance of political agency. The first section of this thesis (Chapters 2 and 3) demonstrates that anti-Union discourse in 1706-07 was founded upon a conception of a masculine Scottish nationhood defined by ‘heroick ancestors’. This is contrasted with women’s political agency at the time, demonstrated most markedly by elite women’s ability to influence parliamentary politics. I argue that despite masculinist discourses of nationhood, during the Union debates status was a more important determinant of political agency than gender. The second section of my thesis (Chapters 4, 5 and 6) considers the centrality of male refinement and ‘civilised’ femininity to discourses of North British nationhood in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment. I examine the construction and performance of male refinement within intellectual societies and convivial clubs and then consider women’s limited inclusion in the urban Enlightenment public sphere, demonstrating that discourses of femininity necessarily precluded women’s full public engagement in this sphere. The final chapter (Chapter 7) considers martial masculinity, particularly the masculine ideal of martial Highland manhood in order to demonstrate the problematic aspect of notions of hegemonic masculinity and in order to bring the story of the Highlands and Empire into the story of Enlightenment Scotland. This thesis will demonstrate the centrality of gender to discourses of national identity and examine the impact of these on the performance of political agency in eighteenth-century Scotland and in doing so offers a contribution to the history of gender and political power.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: History, Gender, Women, Masculinity, Scotland, Politics, National Identity, Eighteenth Century.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Abrams, Professor Lynn
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Dr Rosalind J Carr
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-602
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:20
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/602

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