Please join us next Wed, 2/27 at 3:30 in CMU 202 (Simpson Center seminar room) for a work-in-progress meeting. We will be discussing a dissertation chapter-in-progress by Sarah Faulkner (English) entitled, “Ossianic Virility: Romance, Sentiment, and National Character in The Scottish Chiefs.” Since it is getting to be That Time in the quarter, we will also provide pizza and libations to help facilitate the discussion.
Sarah’s draft chapter considers Jane Porter’s 1810 novel The Scottish Chiefs which, in narrating the deeds of William Wallace, uses the relationship between text and paratext to do interesting things with ideas about genre, nation, and historical time. A tantalizing bit from her introduction:
While normally paired with Walter Scott in conversations about the historical novel, I instead place Porter in dialogue with James Macpherson to investigate how accuracy and anachronism affect ideas of national character and historical progress in Scottish historical texts. I argue that while Porter borrows Macpherson’s depiction of a sentimental and patriotic past to fortify the heroic emotion of her novel, she uses the affordances of romance and her footnotes to challenge and re-write Scotland’s cultural evolution narrative. She differs from other long-eighteenth-century thinkers regarding progress toward union with Britain, viewing it not as a development from childhood to adulthood, or from vigor to decay, but instead as sustained valor—from vigor to vigor. Thus, within The Scottish Chiefs, Porter creates a sense of Ossianic virility, a Scottish national character whose strength does not crumble over time or shudder under its union with England, but endures in perpetuity.
If you’re interested in joining, please email me to get a copy of Sarah’s paper. Please read it in preparation for the meeting. Emailing me will also help us figure out how much pizza to get (please mention any dietary concerns, too).