Changing Scotland: A social history of love in the life and work of Edwin Morgan

Osmond-Williams, Philippa (2019) Changing Scotland: A social history of love in the life and work of Edwin Morgan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Examining love in the life and work of Edwin Morgan (1920-2010), this thesis argues that Morgan’s literary and artistic demonstrations of love inherently respond to the legal, political, and social changes of Scotland in the twentieth and twenty-first century. By mapping Morgan’s biographical contexts within Scotland’s wider social history and culture, the impact of the nation and its shifting attitudes on Morgan’s collected works is delineated. An examination of material only available to researchers, including Morgan’s correspondence and scrapbooks held in Archives and Special Collections at Glasgow University Library, supplements this comprehensive exploration of the significance of love in Morgan’s life and work. Different themes in Morgan’s literature surface at different periods of his life, often significantly responding to specific biographical or socio-historical contexts. This thesis, therefore, is organised chronologically in relation to Morgan’s biography rather than to his publications, although these two timelines do often overlap. Each chapter covers three decades of Morgan’s life.

Chapter One explores Morgan’s interaction with love in the context of war. Morgan’s early defining relationships and the iconography of love and war in his scrapbooks are examined, followed by an interrogation of the homosocial emphasis in Morgan’s translation of Beowulf (1952). A reappraisal of the ‘subterranean’ structure of ‘The New Divan’ (1977) is performed through a thematic examination of love and sex.

Chapter Two analyses the homosexual subtexts that arise in Morgan’s later scrapbooks, focusing particularly on literary figures and British public trials. The love sequence from The Second Life (1968) is examined in relation to the major romantic relationship of Morgan’s life that inspired these poems, followed by an exploration of personal and universal grief in ‘The Moons of Jupiter’ (1979).

Chapter Three considers transformation, exploring Scotland’s social attitudes following the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the impact this had on Morgan’s writing and his role as a public figure. Highlighting Morgan’s emphasis on particular themes that respond to personal contexts and Scotland’s socio-political shifts, transformation through translation and adaptation is examined through four key texts: Cyrano de Bergerac (1992), Phaedra (2000), A.D.: A Trilogy of Plays on the Life of Jesus Christ (2000) and The Play of Gilgamesh (2005). The ‘Demon’ (1999) sequence is the final text analysed, serving to highlight the crucial connection that Morgan establishes between love, creation, and energy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Edwin Morgan, love, Scotland, biography, social history, social attitudes, legal reform, homosexuality, scrapbooks, archives, correspondence, war, energy.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Riach, Prof. Alan and Schonfield, Dr. Ernest
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Ms Philippa Osmond-Williams
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-75142
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2019 12:53
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 12:55
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75142

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