Scotland and the making of British poetry in the age of revolution
MetadataShow full item record
The present study examines a specific form of literary memorialization of Scottishness, stubborn and elusive as that term might be, under the concrete political, social, and economic conditions of the late eighteenth-century. It holds that literary history and criticism can make a significant contribution to understanding Scottish history, both in its own terms and in relation to British history writ large. It inserts into these histories a much wider range of late eighteenth-century Scottish poets than previous scholarship and deepens our understanding of the cultural and discursive manifestations of British state formation under the extreme stress of war and revolution. It also reveals the way the political crisis of the French Revolution converged with pre-existing concerns about the impact of union on the Scottish economy and society, as well as with shared Anglo-Scottish critiques of state power that feature so prominently in the political history of this period. Many of the poets studied here have never figured significantly in political, cultural, or literary histories of the period and, with a few notable exceptions, no analysis of their poetry, whether in political or literary terms, has yet occurred. Consequently, this study brings both historical and literary analysis to bear on a large and diverse group of Scottish poets with a range of political and aesthetic perspectives that reflect not only on the question of Scottish, English, and British "identities," but on the formation of British poetry more generally.