Aspects of modern Scottish literature and ecological thought
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'Aspects of Modern Scottish Literature and Ecological Thought' argues that the science and philosophy of 'ecology' has had a profound impact on Scottish literature since the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, and relates the work of successive generations of Scottish writers to concurrent developments in ecological thought and the environmental sciences. Chapter One suggests that, while Romantic ways of thinking about the natural world remained influential in nineteenth-century culture, new environmental theories provided fresh ways of perceiving the world, evident from the writings of Scottish mountaineers. Chapter Two explores the confrontation of modernity and wilderness in the fiction and travel writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, and some contemporaries such as John Muir. Chapter Three suggests that ecologically-sensitive local and global concerns, rather than 'national' ones per se, are central to the work of Hugh MacDiarmid, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and others, while Chapter Four demonstrates that post-war 'rural' writers including Nan Shepherd, Neil Gunn, Edwin Muir and George Mackay Brown, often viewed as peripheral, are actually central and of international relevance, and challenges the assumption that there is a fundamental divide between Scottish rural and urban writing. Finally, Chapter Five argues that contemporary writers John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie and Alan Warner are not only reviewing human relationships with nature, but also the role writing has to play in exploring and strengthening that relationship, helping to determine the ecological 'value' of poetry and fiction. By looking at Scottish literature through the lens of ecological thought, and engaging with international discourses of 'Ecocriticism', this thesis provides a fresh perspective in contrast to the dominant critical views of modern Scottish literature, and demonstrates that Scottish writing constitutes a heritage of ecological thought which, in this age of environmental awareness, should be recognised as not only relevant, but vital.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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