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Beside the Bard argues that Scottish poetry in the age of Burns reclaims not a single past, dominated and overwritten by the unitary national language of an elite ruling class, but a past that conceptualizes the Scottish nation in terms of local self-identification, linguistic multiplicity, cultural and religious difference, and transnational political and cultural affiliations. This fluid conception of the nation may accommodate a post-Union British self-identification, but it also recognizes the instrumental and historically contingent nature of “Britishness.” Whether male or female, loyalist or radical, literati or autodidacts, poets such as Alexander Wilson, Carolina Olyphant, Robert Tannahill, and John Lapraik, among others, adamantly refuse to imagine a single nation, British or otherwise, instead preferring an open, polyvocal field, on which they can stage new national and personal formations and fight new revolutions. In this sense, “Scotland” is a revolutionary category, always subject to creative destruction and reformation.
Scottish poetry, Scottish nation, Scotland, Alexander Wilson, Carolina Olyphant, Robert Tannahill, John Lapraik
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text; 261 pages
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