The Gaelic Poet and the British military experience, 1756-1856

Maciver, Ruairidh Iain (2018) The Gaelic Poet and the British military experience, 1756-1856. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines Gaelic poetry and the military between 1756 and 1856. While previous studies have collated and analysed the poetry of two of the other major impacts on Gaelic society at this time, clearance and emigration, there has so far been no concerted attempt to examine and place in context the corpus of Gaelic military material of the period – despite this verse being widespread in the poetic record. This poetry has been largely neglected by scholars of Scottish history, and, though selected pieces have been examined by scholars of Celtic Studies, it has not received the fullness of attention that such a major concern in the poetic record deserves. This thesis therefore directly addresses this gap in previous scholarship.

The study first considers the historical and literary context for this corpus of poetry, in order to establish the background to Gaelic military verse in the post-Culloden period. A chronological approach is taken to consider this poetry over the course of five chapters. The first period explored is that between the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War and the French Revolutionary War (1756-93). Two chapters cover the period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), focussing respectively on verse by soldiers and non-combatants. The next chapter has as its focus the period between the British Victory at Waterloo and the end of the Crimean War (1815-56). The last chapter takes a different chronological approach to those which preceded it, examining women’s poetry and the military across the one-hundred year time period. Each of these chapters explore the background to, contemporary context for, and content of this corpus of Gaelic military verse from 1756 to 1856. A full database of the corpus of 178 poems is also included.

There is a focus throughout the thesis on the manner in which poets drew from and utilised their poetic tradition to contextualise the British military and its influence. Another major strand of the research is its examination of loyalty as expressed or revealed in the poetic record. The thesis contends that this corpus of poetry deserves a central place in the military historiography of the Highlands and Gaelic literary criticism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gaelic, poetry, military, Highlands, Duncan Bàn Macintyre, Alexander Mackinnon, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, Highland regiments, panegyric code.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Supervisor's Name: Kidd, Dr. Sheila and Byrne, Dr. Michel
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Ruairidh I Maciver
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30582
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 11:08
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2018 15:27

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