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Title: Scottish men of letters and the new public sphere, 1802-1834
Author: Swaim, B. T.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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From the founding of the Edinburgh Review in October of 1802 to the mid-1830s, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, produced a remarkable number of periodicals and periodical-writers. For a period of about three decades, Scottish writers dominated what Jürgen Habermas would later call the “public sphere.” The cultural forces that generated Scotland’s ascendancy through periodical-writing and –published are examined with respect to four writers: Francis Jeffrey, John Wilson, John Gibson Lockhart, and Thomas Carlyle. Jeffrey used the idea of an open intellectual arena in order, ironically, to arrogate peremptory authority to the Edinburgh Review. Wilson made use of the new interest among metropolitan Scots in eloquent and energetic ‘talk’ (as opposed to conversation) in order to present himself as more authentically ‘Scottish’, and in the process helped to turn the periodical medium into something more individualistic and competitive than polite and reciprocal. Lockhart, having tacitly adopted a suspicion of imaginative literature inherited form his middle-class Scottish provenance, exhumed the tradition of ‘amateurism’ as an alternative to the new poetics of Romanticism. Carlyle, finally, channelled the authority implicit in the Old Presbyterian sermon into his own essays, thereby completing the shift in Scottish periodical-writing of this era from a discourse characterized by politeness and collaboration to one characterized by individual authority and peremptory pronouncements. By examining these writers as Scottish writers participating in the public sphere of early-nineteenth-century Britain, it is possible to conclude, first, that Scottish dominance in periodical-writing during this era was the result of historical circumstances (rather than merely interesting coincidence); and, second, that Scottish writers helped to alter the eighteenth-century public sphere into a print culture far more attuned to individual authority.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available