Unlocking the door of learning : the development of the Scottish university novel in the nineteenth century
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My thesis is concerned with how Scottish higher education is described in nineteenth-century literature. There was a literary trend of University novels in Great Britain as a whole throughout the nineteenth century. Although "the University Novel" is an increasingly popular field of study, scholars have mostly concentrated on English and American novels, and Scottish novels have been so far almost entirely ignored. I had to start by looking for materials and collecting them. In my thesis, I have discussed about a dozen stories written by Scottish authors between 1819 and 1901. The first half of my study focuses on the "lad o' pairts" stories; how students from humble origins proceed to a university and rise in society. It includes a review of Kit Kennedy (1899) by Samuel R. Crockett, in which the University of Edinburgh promises the farm boy a bright future The second half focuses on Scottish university life; how Scottish universities and their academic life are described and dramatised in the novels. Scottish writers' views of their native university are not always favourable. In this section George Douglas Brown's The House with the Green Shutters (1901) is the key chapter. Today Scottish universities differ little from other British universities. Although most Scottish universities still require four year's, instead of three, to complete an undergraduate degree (and offer a Master's degree, instead of a Bachelor's), socially speaking, universities in Scotland recruit the same kinds of students as do their counterparts in the rest of the U. K. The situation was very different in the nineteenth century. Scottish universities retained many of the characteristics which made them distinctive from universities in the rest of the British Isles, and the contemporary novels I discuss here tell of nineteenth-century Scottish higher education more eloquently than any other literature.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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