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Title: Uncanny modalities in post-1970s Scottish fiction : realism, disruption, tradition
Author: Syme, Neil
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 1682
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis addresses critical conceptions of Scottish literary development in the twentieth-century which inscribe realism as both the authenticating tradition and necessary telos of modern Scottish writing. To this end I identify and explore a Scottish ‘counter-tradition’ of modern uncanny fiction. Drawing critical attention to techniques of modal disruption in the works of a number of post-1970s Scottish writers gives cause to reconsider that realist teleology while positing a range of other continuities and tensions across modern Scottish literary history. The thesis initially defines the critical context for the project, considering how realism has come to be regarded as a medium of national literary representation. I go on to explore techniques of modal disruption and uncanny in texts by five Scottish writers, contesting ways in which habitual recourse to the realist tradition has obscured important aspects of their work. Chapter One investigates Ali Smith’s reimagining of ‘the uncanny guest’. While this trope has been employed by earlier Scottish writers, Smith redesigns it as part of a wider interrogation of the hyperreal twenty-first-century. Chapter Two considers two texts by James Robertson, each of which, I argue, invokes uncanny techniques familiar to readers of James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson in a way intended specifically to suggest concepts of national continuity and literary inheritance. Chapter Three argues that James Kelman’s political stance necessitates modal disruption as a means of relating intimate individual experience. Re-envisaging Kelman as a writer of the uncanny makes his central assimilation into the teleology of Scottish realism untenable, complicating the way his work has been positioned in the Scottish canon. Chapter Four analyses A.L. Kennedy’s So I Am Glad, delineating a similarity in the processes of repetition which result in both uncanny effects and the phenomenon of tradition, leading to Kennedy’s identification of an uncanny dimension in the concept of national tradition itself. Chapter Five considers the work of Alan Warner, in which the uncanny appears as an unsettling sense of significance embedded within the banal everyday, reflecting an existentialism which reaches beyond the national. In this way, I argue that habitual recourse to an inscribed realist tradition tends to obscure the range, complexity and instability of the realist techniques employed by the writers at issue, demonstrating how national continuities can be productively accommodated within wider, pluralistic analytical approaches.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Scottish Literature ; Lean Tales ; Alan Warner ; James Kelman ; Ali Smith ; James Robertson ; A.L. Kennedy ; Uncanny Literature ; Modern Scottish Fiction ; The Accidental ; There but for the ; Gideon Mack ; The Fanatic ; James Hogg ; Muriel Spark ; Confessions of a Justified Sinner ; Robert Louis Stevenson ; Jekyll and Hyde ; Morvern Callar ; The Sopranos ; The Man Who Walks ; The Deadman's Pedal ; These Demented Lands ; How late it was ; how late ; A Disaffection ; A Nightboilerman's Notes ; Cairns Craig ; So I am glad ; Todorov ; Freud ; The Uncanny Guest ; William James ; The Varieties of Religious Experience ; Uncanny Guest ; Jonathan Culler ; Scottish Realism ; Scottish Renaissance ; Post-1970s Scottish Fiction ; Kieron Smith ; boy ; Jenni Fagan ; Monica Germana ; Francis Russel hart ; Michael Billig ; Banal Nationalism ; Literary Imaginaion ; National Imagination ; Benedict Anderson ; Eric Hobsbawm ; Kevin MacNeil ; John Burnside ; Scott Hames ; The Professor of Truth ; Thrawn Janet ; Farewell ; Miss Julie Logan ; Susan Bernstein ; Douglas Gifford ; Scottish fiction 20th century ; Authors ; Scottish 20th century ; Realism in literature