Assignments Page, Scottish Literature and Culture, 1780-1930:

Some Sample Topics for Research Paper: 6+ pages
Imagery and Style in the Scottish Ballad Tradition
Illegitimate children/Extramarital Amours and the Scottish Ballad Tradition
Marriage and Money in the Scottish Ballad Tradition
Songs and Poems of the Jacobite Rebellion
Work Songs/Song of the Supernatural
Folk Origins of Robert Burns’ Songs
Nineteenth-Century Biographies of Burns/Biographies of Burns
Burns’ Political Poems
Social Issues in the Poetry of Burns (religion, poverty, government, etc.)
Erotic Humor in Burns’ Poems
Burns and the Vernacular Tradition
Burns and His 18th Century Antecedents
Burns’ Life in His Poems
Dr. Johnson, Boswell and Highland Culture
Adam Smith, David Hume and the Appeal to “Common Sense”
Adam Smith and Colonization/Imperialism/National Independence
A Scottish Context for Hume’s Views on Religion
Scottish Enlightenment Views on Style and Rhetoric
Language Registers in Scottish Poetry
The Multiple Facets of Truth: Point of View/The Unreliable Narrator in Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions
Psychological Themes in Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions
James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions and the Religious Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century
Hogg and the Supernatural
Vernacular Scots Usage in Hogg/Burns/Scott
The Portrayal of Working People and Their Speech in Hogg/Scott
Drinking and Dancing: ‘Worldly Pleasures’ and Religion in Hogg and Burns
Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians: Hogg/Burns/Scott on Religious Issues
The Heart of Midlothian and the Issue of Scottish Identity
The Heart of Midlothian, Outlawry and the Law
Illegitimacy and The Heart of Midlothian
Truth vs. Domestic Attachment in The Heart of Midlothian
The Social Geography of The Heart of Midlothian
Gender Norms and Women’s Roles in The Heart of Midlothian
Paired Characters in The Heart of Midlothian (e.g. Effie and Jeanie, George and Reuben)
Allegorical Plot Elements in The Heart of Midlothian
The Use of Songs and Ballads in Scott’s Heart of Midlothian
The Thematic Importance of the Character of (x) in The Heart of Midlothian
Scottish Nationalism/Cultural Identity in Hogg/Burns/Scott
Scott as Poet vs. Scott as Novelist
Nineteenth Century Biographies of Scott/Biographies of Scott
Scots Language Usage in The Heart of Midlothian (or political themes, portrayal of the underclass and rebellion, portrayal of madness, religious factions)
Joanna Baillie and the Passions/Baillie’s View of Tragedy in De Monfort
Joanna Baillie and the Blank Verse Drama
A Psychological Reading of De Monfort
Form and Theme in the Poetry of Janet Hamilton, Ellen Johnston and Mary McPherson
Mairi Nic’a Phersain and the Highland Clearances
Margaret Oliphant and the Supernatural
Christian Watt and Nineteenth Century Treatment of the Insane
Christian Watt as a Diarist
The Social Views of Christian Watt
The Doppelganger in Hogg and Stevenson
W.H. Henley’s “In Hospital” and Victorian Medical Reform
Form and Language in Henley’s “In Hospital”
A Scots Quair and Scottish Modernism

For background, you should consult at least six sources and of these two or three should be books and two or three articles. It’s acceptable to use computerized encyclopedia entries and web pages (such as those suggested on the “resources” page of our web site), but these cannot substitute for printed materials. You might, for example, use encyclopedia entries or web citations to prompt thoughts on what types of information you wish to seek. When citing from the internet, you must also provide references to the actual author, source of the information and date of publication (e.g. an Internet address by itself won’t do). If it is absolutely impossible to trace an author or date, indicate this absence with n.a. and/or n.d.

Short Test, A Sunset Song

For each of the following passages, indicate where in the text/plot it occurs, identify its speaker or narrator, indicate any characters or persons mentioned, and describe its meaning or importance to the story.

They died for a world that is past, these men, but they did not die for this that we seem to inherit. Beyond it and us there shines a greater hope and a newer world, undreamt when these four died. But need we doubt which side the battle they would range themselves did they live to-day, need we doubt the answer they cry to us even now, the four of them, from the place of the sunset?

And mind, my mannie, if I ever hear you again take your Maker’s name in vain, if I ever hear you use that word again, I’ll libb you. Mind that. Libb you like a lamb.

…saying what a shame it was that folk should be shamed nowadays to speak Scotch—or they called it Scots if they did, the split-tongued sourocks! Every damned little narrow-dowped rat hat you met put on the English if he thought he’d impress you…You can tell me, man, what’s the English for spotter, or greip, or smore, or pleiter, gloaming or glunching or well-kenspeckled? And if you said gloaming was sunset you’d fair be a liar; and you’re hardly that, Mr. Gordon.

It was not mother only that died with the twins, something died in your heart and went down with her to lie in Kinraddie kirkyard—the child in your heart died then, the bairn that believed the hills were made for its play, every road set fair with its warning posts, hands ready to snatch you back from the brink of danger when the play grew over-rough. They died, and the x of the books and the dreams died with it, or you folded the up in their paper of tissue and laid them away by the dark, quiet corpse that was your childhood.

What think you of your son now, old wife?—the son you wanted to make a name for you with his bravery in Kinraddie? Be proud, be proud, I’ll be home right soon to crawl round the parks and I’ll show these holes to every bitch in the Mearns that’s looking for a hero.

And then something made her raise her eyes, she stood awful and rigid, fronting him, coming up the party through the broom. Laired with glaur was his uniform, his face was white and the great hole sagged and opened, sagged and opened, red-glazed and black, at every upwards step he took. Up through the broom: she saw the grass wave with no press below his feet, her lad, the light in his eyes that aye she could bring.

Well, well, Chris lass, I’ve liked this fine. And then, not looking at her, he added I’m away to Aberdeen to enlist the morn.

Then she straightened and took down her hair and brushed it, standing so, silly to stand without her night-gown, but that was the mood she was in, somehow it seemed that never again would she be herself, have his body that as hers and her own, those fine lines that curved from thigh to knee hers, that dimple she’d loved when a child—oh, years before!

And syne folk saw that dark had come and began to stream down the hill leaving her there, some were uncertain and looked them back. But they saw the minister was standing behind her, waiting for her, they’d the last of the light with them up there, and maybe they didn’t need it or heed it, you can do without the day if you’ve a lamp quiet-lighted and kind in your heart.

They were Druid stones and folk told that the Druids had been coarse devils of men in the times long syne, they’d climb up there and sing their foul heathen songs around the stones;and if they met a bit Christian missionary they’d gut him as soon as look at him. And Long Rob of the mill would say what Scotland wanted was a return of the Druids, but that was just a speak of his, for they must have been awful ignorant folk, not canny.

But a worse thing came as that slow September dragged to its end, a thing she would never tell to a soul…those eveing fancies when x lay with the red in his face and his eye on her, whispering and whispering at her, the harvest in his blood, whispering her to come to him, they’d done it in Old Testament times, whispering you’re my flesh and blood, I can do with you what I will, come to me…do you hear?

So that was Chris and her reading and schooling, two Chrisses there were that fought for her heart and tormented her. You hated the land and the coarse speak of the folk and learning was brave and fine one day; and the next you’d waken with the peewits crying across the hills, deep and deep, crying in the heart of you and the smell of the earth in your face, almost you’d cry for that, the beauty of it and the sweetness of the Scottish land and skies.

To hell with their board, the bastards, they’re ruining my land, do you hear! And he pulled on his trousers and boots and would fair have fun over the park and been at them; But Kirsty caught at his sark and held him back and cried Have you fair gone mad with the killing of Germans?

Hell, Chris, what a bloody place!...Well, damn’t, is that all you've to say to me now I’ve come home? I’d have done better to spend the night with a tart in the town.

It was that wind that came with the sun, I minded Blawearie, I seemed to waken up smelling that smell. And I couldn’t believe it was me that stood in the trench, it was just daft to be there. So I turned and got out of it.

8:107 Literature and Culture of Nineteenth-Century Scotland / Literature and Culture of Scotland 1780-1930

Practical Information and Assignments

2:30-3:20 204 EPB; Florence Boos, 335-0434

Office hours: Monday 5:30-6:20 and Wednesday 3:30-4:20 319 EPB

Course texts: all in IMU

Robert Burns, Poems
Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian
James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Thomas Carlyle, selections
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Lewis Grassic Gibbon, A Scots Quair

Handouts: Dr. Johnson; Scottish Enlightenment figures; ballads; play by Joanna Baillie; handout on the Scots language; Scottish working-class poets (Johnston, Hamilton, McPherson); memoirs by Elizabeth Campbell and Ellen Johnston; diary of Christian Watt, selections from Carmina Gadelica; W.H. Henley, “In Hospital”; selections from Hugh McDiarmid, “The Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle”; possibly other short stories and poems as time permits


6+ page research paper. As the time approaches I’ll pass out a handout with suggested topics for a research paper, though you may also choose your own. A proposed topic, title and bibliography for the research paper are due two weeks before the paper itself. This will enable you to face in advance any problems in obtaining materials.

You should consult at least six sources, and of these two or three should be books and two or three articles. It’s acceptable to use computerized encyclopedia entries and webpages (such as those suggested in the “resources” sections of our course page) in addition, but these cannot substitute for printed materials. When citing from the internet, you must also provide references to the actual author, source of the information and date of publication (e.g. an internet address by itself won't do). Due the day after spring break.

6+ page comparative essay. Due at the time of final session, held the Monday of exam week. Students will describe their final essays to the class.

Postings or Presentations:

Using our class discussion page (, user i.d. “scot,” password “litcult,” you will be asked to help prepare plot summaries of sections of one or more of our novels. Also please post 1-2 page essays chosen from five of the following topics:

1. Scottish painting or artwork in relation to one of our texts
2. Work of Scottish music in relation to one of the works read in course
3. Visit to Special Collections: illustrations, fine editions, serials parts for one of our texts
4. Periodical context—serialization, 19th century reviews
5. Modern criticism—3 or more 20th century readings of an aspect of one of our texts
6. Comparison of film adaptation with original text: what are the changes and why?
7. Scottish dance in relation to a work of Scottish fiction or poetry
8. Historical application—a historical context for a scene or theme in one of our works
9. Biographical context—an aspect of the work in the context of the author’s life
10. Linguistic analysis—a discussion of the use of dialect, regional, or class-marked speech in one of our texts
11. A discussion of authorial intrusions and narrative voice in one of the course novels
12. Discussion of meter, sound, language choice, and sequence in a poetic text
13. A discussion of a selection by one of the Scottish Enlightenment writers
14. A dramatic or creative presentation or reading (may be done with others) (can count as the equivalent of 2 postings)

Be sure to proofread your message postings. Perhaps you might print them out and correct for syntax, grammar and punctuation. Be sure to use the paragraph!

Attendance and discussion are central to this class. I may lower the grade one half point for more than three absences, and for more than six absences your grade will fall substantially.

Guidelines for Grading:

20% class attendance, preparation and contribution to class
25% research paper
25% comparative essay
20% five postings + plot summaries
10% quizzes (history, Scott, others), small assignments

Revised Tentative Syllabus “Literature and Culture of Nineteenth Century Scotland”:

Tuesday January 19th introduction; Anne Lindsay “Auld Robin Gray”
Thursday January 21st ballads from Kerrigan, section “Anonymous,” “The Four Marys,” “The Bonnie Hyn” and others

T Jan 26th James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions, first half
Th Jan 28th historical background; Johnson and Boswell, tours of the Hebrides, handout

First internet journal entry posting due Friday 29th by 4 p.m.

T February 2nd Johnson and Boswell, tour of the Hebrides, handout
Th February 4th music of Scotland, guest Donna Parsons

First internet journal response due; may substitute second entry if desired.

T Feb 9th Oxford Book of Scottish Short Stories, second through sixth tales
Th Feb 11th Waverly, first nine chapters

T Feb 16th Waverly, through chapter 27
Th Feb 18th selections from Burns’ poetry; read “What is Scots”

Second internet journal entry posting due Friday 19th by 4 p.m. Must concern music selections played on February 4th.

T Feb 23rd Waverly, finish
Th Feb 25th end of Waverly, Burns again

Second internet journal response due Friday 26th by 4 p.m.

T March 2nd any Burns? Scottish Enlightenment, selections from Frances Hutcheson, David Hume, and George Campbell
Th March 4th Carlyle, “Burns,” “Signs of the Times,” “The Man of Letters,” “Reminiscences”; topic, title and bibliography for research paper due.

T March 9th Carlyle
Th March 11th diary of Christian Watts, first 50 pages

Third internet journal entry posting due Friday 12th by 4 p.m.

Week of March 15th-19th spring vacation
Read Christian Watts
Complete research paper

T March 23rd diary of Christian Watt, second half; research paper due
Th March 25th Janet Hamilton and other working-class poets

Next: Oliphant, Stevenson, short stories and poetry, Gibbon
Revised Syllabus for March, April and May:

March 23rd Tuesday Some background history based on timeline; final discussion of Christian Watt; research papers due

March 25th Thursday Working-class poetry by Janet Hamilton, Ellen Johnston, Jane Stevenson, Mairi MachPherson and a gypsy, on handout

March 30th Tuesday Poetry by W.H. Henley, and if time by R.L. Stevenson, handouts

April 1st Thursday Short stories by Oliphant (handout), Ian Maclaren and R.L. Stevenson (from Oxford anthology of short stories)

Friday April 2nd journal or response due

April 6th Tuesday Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

April 8th Thursday Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

April 9th Friday or weekend—journal due

April 13th Tuesday Scots Quair, first hundred pages
April 15th Thursday Short stories by Violet Jacob, John Buchanan, Lorna Moon and Neil Gunn from anthology

April 20th Tuesday Scots Quair, all of first volume
April 22nd Thursday Poetry by Violet Jacob, Marion Angus and Rachel Annand Taylor

April 27th Tuesday Start poetry by Hugh MacDiarmid
April 29th Thursday Poetry by Hugh MacDiarmid, handout

April 30th Friday journal due.

May 4th Tuesday Poetry by Naomi Mitchison, handout
May 6th Thursday Slides of Scottish art

By this time you should have sent me 10 journals or responses.

Exam week—take home essay due; class will meet Tuesday for brief reports on essays.