Introduction: ‘Ways of Reading Scotland’

As an academic discipline, literary studies has long taken ‘close reading’ as its central methodology, but even staunch supporters of close reading, like me, must acknowledge that it provides a relatively limited way of interacting with texts. Moreover, it relies upon a relatively limited definition of a text as a material artefact composed of words.  […]

Oliphant & Co.

Margaret Oliphant (1828-96) has attained the obscure place in English literary history that she gloomily predicted for herself in her posthumously published autobiography: ‘No one will mention me in the same breath with George Eliot. And that is just. It is a little justification to myself to think how much better off she was. Should […]

Margaret Oliphant at the Margins of Maga

From its early nineteenth-century beginnings, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, known popularly as Maga, embraced a masculine form of sociability that had antecedents in Addison and Steele’s Spectator, and in the moral philosophy of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. This masculine sociability was most vividly embodied in the Noctes Ambrosianae, a series of satirical dialogues that, as Margaret Oliphant explained in her […]

The Unknown and the Unknowns: Naturalism in Scottish Domestic Fiction

Nineteenth-century Scottish literature is full of the unknown: some of its best known figures — James Hogg, Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, George MacDonald, and J. M. Barrie — explore aspects of the magical, supernatural, irrational, or simply mysterious in their fiction. Drawing on Scotland’s heroic past and native traditions, these writers helped to embalm […]

Scottish Studies after Area Studies

When cultural studies came of age in U.S. universities in the 1990s, it reinvigorated the concept of area studies, which had originated in response to cold war, decolonization, and globalization in the mid twentieth century. Whereas cultural studies describes a methodology or an aim &madsh; broadly, the critique of ideology—area studies traditionally were defined by […]


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