From Goosecreek to Gandercleugh: Studies in Scottish-American Literary and Cultural History

From Goosecreek to Gandercleugh: Studies in Scottish-American Literary and Cultural History

From Goosecreek to Gandercleugh: Studies in Scottish-American Literary and Cultural History

From Goosecreek to Gandercleugh: Studies in Scottish-American Literary and Cultural History

Synopsis

For almost half a century scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have worked hard to highlight the distinctively Scottish contribution to the emergence of America's national culture, in particular the impact of the Scottish Enlightenment. Ranging from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth, this book explores the importance for America's cultural history of Scottish educators, philosophers, historians, rhetoricians and scientists, as well as the literary aspect personified in major figures on both sides of the Atlantic, from Walter Scott to William Faulkner.

Excerpt

My own study of Scottish-American literary and cultural relations began in the Witherspoon Collection at Princeton University in the late 1950s. At the time I had good reason for regarding myself as something of a pioneer. of course there was an existing literature on Scotland and America but its frequent filiopietism was not entirely misrepresented by a Reader’s Digest article, published in 1955 and entitled ‘The Scots Among Us’, which largely consisted of long lists of Americans, from generals to golfers, who could lay claim to Scottish blood somewhere in their past. (The article was for many years made available in U.S. Consulates in Scotland.) Admittedly 1954 had seen the publication of the ground-breaking William and Mary College Quarterly issue devoted to the topic of Scotland and America and marking a new academic seriousness in the study of the field. But the William and Mary Quarterly did not address the literary dimension of the Scottish-American connection, and, much more significantly, the editors of The Reader’s Digest clearly remained innocent of its contents.

The situation today, I believe, is different but hardly transformed. in the introductory chapter of this book, by focusing on the reception of Garry Wills’s controversial study of Jefferson and the Scottish Enlightenment called Inventing America, I make a case for the view that a kind of Reader’s Digest innocence often continues to surround the topic of Scotland and America. What this means is that despite all that has been achieved by scholars working in the decades subsequent to the publication of the William and Mary Quarterly articles, particularly in the field of the Scottish-American Enlightenment, a specifically Scottish dimension to the mainstream of American cultural history largely continues to go unrecognised. the position appears to be that in these years the Scottish case . . .

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