Provincializing Enlightenment: Edinburgh Historicism and the Blackwoodian Regional Tale‪.‬

Studies in Romanticism 2009, Summer, 48, 2

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Publisher Description

IN THE INTRODUCTION TO THEIR 2004 COLLECTION, SCOTLAND AND THE Borders of Romanticism, Ian Duncan, Leith Davis, and Janet Sorensen suggest that postcolonial criticism "would seem" to provide "the likeliest instruments for rethinking [the] geopolitical borders" of Romantic-period Scotland. (1) Two problems, however, complicate this. The first is Scotland's "anomalous position" (2) with regard to colonialism following the 1707 Act of Union. Such a position necessitates a substantial retooling of postcolonial critical insights gleaned from quite different political and historical circumstances--from India, say, or from the West Indies. The second problem is that those critics who do apply postcolonial instruments to the literature of the period--most often via analyses of "internal colonialism"--tend to "absorb the traditional category of Romanticism into the 'long eighteenth century'" (9). (2) They fail, that is, to account for Scotland's anomalous position with regard to Romanticism. (3) When Duncan, Davis, and Sorensen turn to address this traditional category, they assert that "[t]he cultural breach with Enlightenment, defined by the antagonistic formation of a 'Romantic Ideology,' came late in Scotland" (13). It arrived in 1817 with the founding of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine--"Romanticism as (at last) Counter-Enlightenment" (13). The Enlightenment here countered is largely Scotland's own, initiated by the philosophical historians of mid-century Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, and maintained in the Romantic period via the Whig-centered Edinburgh Review. In this essay, I want to examine a significant element of this famous "breach": the inclusion in Blackwood's of regional tales such as those written by James Hogg, John Galt, David Macbeth Moir, and others. Wendell Harris characterizes regional tales as short fictional works that "[describe] the life and manners of a particular people." (4) In general, these tales exhibit a preoccupation with the local, a heavy dependence on vernacular speech, and a penchant for mixing the natural and the supernatural. As such, they fit comfortably into most accounts of "Romanticism." With regards to the brand of Romantic ideology espoused by Blackwood's, the very presence of these tales--especially in the early years of publication--helped to distinguish the magazine from its Enlightenment-oriented rival across town.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2009
June 22
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
38
Pages
PUBLISHER
Boston University
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
232.6
KB

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