The cultural history of the bagpipe in Britain, 1680-1840

Williams, Vivien Estelle (2013) The cultural history of the bagpipe in Britain, 1680-1840. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Bagpipes and pipers, as cultural identifiers, are embedded within their national culture, charged with symbolisms. British authors have often viewed bagpipes as cultural icons, endowing them with connotations from devilish to virtuous, from rural to military. By analysing literary and artistic references one can perceive how the attitude towards the bagpipe changes with the evolution of Britain’s internal dynamics. Jacobitism contributed in casting a particular light on the bagpipe: it was the ‘voice of the rebellion’. In Scotland this constituted a reason for national pride, while in England the ‘common denominator’ of the Scot-enemy charged the bagpipe with the worst connotations. After Jacobitism stopped being seen as a threat, authors and artists came to view the bagpipe in a different light: the once negative icon was now imbued with ancestral values. The Scot – and the bagpipe by synecdoche – was romanticised: as James Boswell wrote, “The very Highland names, or the sound of a bagpipe, will stir my blood, and fill me with [...] a crowd of sensations with which sober rationality has nothing to do” (1785). The words of many Romantic authors contributed in characterising the instrument, endowing it with implications the influence of which is still relevant today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: bagpipes, cultural history, Scottish history, Scottish identity, English literature, Scottish literature, satire, Jacobitism, Romanticism
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Pittock, Professor Murray G. H.
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Ms Vivien Estelle Williams
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5085
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2014 14:53
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2017 12:24

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