Discourses of history and forms of cultural memory : in the works of James Hogg and Walter Scott
This thesis discusses different narrative forms of cultural memory in the historical fiction of James Hogg and Walter Scott. The introduction explains the variety of post-Enlightenment discourse on ‘history’: certain works of popular history were subject to new appreciation while canonical histories from the eighteenth century were now criticised in periodical reviews, the leading cultural arbiters of the day. Chapter 1 focuses on the ‘ballad collection’ as a literary genre within an antiquarian matrix. The chapter considers Scott and Hogg’s differing approaches to the textual protocols of antiquarianism when writing on ‘legendary’ history. Chapter 2 surveys the persistence of a providentialist historiography with regard to the ‘anecdote’, particularly as this narrative sub-genre featured extensively in compendia of popular history. Chapter 3 compares the ‘epic’ discourse of The Tale of Old Mortality with the ‘lowlier’ narrative forms canvassed in The Heart of Mid-Lothian, the chronicle and the family saga. Chapter 4 reads Scott and Hogg’s late works on Highland history in relation to the ‘national tale’ genre. These works do not belong properly to either ‘folk’ or ‘novel’ discourse and they formulate most clearly an anti-progressivist notion of history. The Conclusion considers how the practice of ‘reviving’ history is determined in large part by the narrative forms and conventions in which history is written, with the additional consideration that for Scott and Hogg an aesthetic of multiformity arises from the fact that they are often writing the spoken. Rather than ‘explain’ the past both authors use narrative structure to destabilise accepted versions of the past and keep in play the kinds of stories ‘histories’ often forgets.