The Role of Medieval Scottish Poetry in Creating Scottish Identity:
This book examines medieval Scottish literature in light of theories on national identity, exploring how notions of ethnicity, language, class, kinship, history, folklore, and writing influence the ways Scots identify themselves. With chapters devoted to John Barbour’s Bruce, Sir Richard Holland’s Buke of the Howlat, and Blind Hary’s Wallace, Scottish identity is seen as a textual construction, the product of medieval writers’ tales of Scottish heroes such as Bruce, Douglas and Wallace. Barbour’s historical romance portrays the struggle to establish Bruce as king of Scotland as a popular national struggle, while Holland’s allegorical beast fable suggests that there were competing identities (familial, baronial, royal) in Scotland. Blind Hary’s Wallace, an anti-feudal outlaw tale which has become a national epic, redefines Scottishness in light of heroism and ethnicity. These three poems illustrate three different stages of the medieval development of Scottish national consciousness, a consciousness that broke away from the limited confines of feudal ideology and began to embrace a diversity of identities which existed in Scotland during the later Middle Ages.
“ ... one thing is clear: the debate over Scottish national identity, and its roots in the Middle Ages, requires both a nuanced and unblinkered treatment. This is what Dr. Stefan Hall here provides in his discussion of three major works of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Barbour’s Bruce, Holland’s Howlat, and Blind Hary’s Wallace, seen as ‘three different stages of the development of Scottish national consciousness ... Nuanced though it is, Dr. Hall’s work nevertheless has a clear direction and conclusion, Scottish national identity was indeed very largely a ‘textual construction’--Barbour’s and Hary’s works were and have remained popular, inspiring, influential, at the root of later Scottish literature. At the same time, the texts could not have been constructed without input from popular sentiment, pre-existing legend, and oral tradition. Hall pays particular attention to folkloric elements and oral residue within these literary and by intention historical poems. If the texts create tradition, then tradition has also created the texts ...” (from the Preface) Professor T.A. Shippey, Saint Louis University
Table of Contents
Preface by T.A. Shippey
ISBN10: 0-7734-5650-3 ISBN13: 978-0-7734-5650-1