Introduction
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v Introduction IAN BROWN, DAVID CLARK AND RUBÉN JARAZO-ÁLVAREZ One of the overarching themes evident in Scottish literary genres since the 1707 Union has been expression of conceptions of liberty or freedom or lack of liberty or freedom, variously defined. This volume explores understandings of the ways in which Scottish writers have sought to examine and represent such conceptions. While its chapters mainly focus on Scottish literary matters, a number of chapters throw complementary light, including a study of the painter Allan Ramsay’s theories and writings, consideration of David Hume’s views on liberty, examination of the work of Scottish–Canadian writers and an exploration of the poetry of Pearse Hutchinson, whose Scottish roots are often forgotten in the rich profusion of his links with Ireland and Iberia. The volume’s focus allows it to consider, from both general perspectives and individual writers’ practices, how approaches to literary practice have in Scotland often been bound up with issues of individual and collective freedom and their converse. This focus facilitates a structure into two complementary sections. The first is entitled ‘Concepts and themes’; the other ‘Individual writers and freedom’. The ‘Concepts and themes’ chapters begin with Alan Riach’s wide-ranging consideration of the use of both the word ‘freedom’ and the word ‘liberty’ in the context not only of the long view of developments over the centuries in Scottish literature, but also in the light of carefully selected insights drawn from philosophy and the practice of writers from other cultures. Entitled ‘Liberty and Scottish literature’, Riach’s chapter opens a wide range of perspectives on broad topics addressed in this volume. Marion Amblard offers a more specific perspective on eighteenth-century Scottish approaches to the conception of freedom in art. She addresses Allan Ramsay’s A Dialogue on Taste and considers its implications for visions of artistic freedom through vi ian brown, david clark and rubén jarazo-álvarez resistance to the constraints of received or institutional convention. Amblard begins her chapter by observing: In the second half of the eighteenth century, a distinctive Scottish style of portrait painting began to emerge. Although its development coincided with that of English portraiture, the Scottish school of portrait painting has always been markedly different from its English counterpart. Both schools developed in different conditions and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they did not conform to the same artistic conventions. She moves from a detailed consideration of what she means by such differing artistic conventions to address Ramsay not only as a painter, but as a writer on painting. She sets his ideas in the context of late eighteenth-century Scottish thought in a way that casts light on debate on issues of artistic expression that would have impact on later literary practice. In the next chapter, Gilles Robel complements Amblard’s discussion with his own consideration of David Hume’s conception of political liberty, particularly drawing on Hume’s 1741 ‘Of the Liberty of the Press’. The scope of Robel’s chapter is marked by his three subheadings: ‘Liberty and forms of government ’, ‘Liberty and opinion’, and ‘Preserving Liberty’. The first three chapters, then, offer contrasting and mutually interrelated critical and theoretical perspectives on the nature of ‘freedom’ in Scottish culture with special emphasis on eighteenth-century thinking about the aesthetics and politics of liberty. The next two chapters complement the first three through their focus on theatrical genres. Jean Berton offers an overview of ways in which, since the Union, Scottish playwrights have addressed issues of freedom. He does so under three headings: ‘Freedom as opposed to vassalage in an occupied land’; ‘The paradox of dependence and freedom’; and ‘Guilt as the worst enemy of freedom’. These allow him to offer sweeping accounts which draw out themes he finds in Scottish drama across the last three centuries and in all three major theatrical languages of Scotland. Berton observes concerns with freedom recurring from writer to writer in a way that suggests the vii introduction dramatic debate he is describing continues as a feature of Scottish theatrical consideration of what ‘freedom’ is and can be. Berton’s chapter is complemented by Ian Brown’s. This follows up and develops work Brown has already produced on the ways in which the use of Scots language on stage in the twentieth century has been a vehicle for freeing the expressivity of Scots theatre and its capacity to address and explore freely and directly major aspects of the Scottish experience. Andrew...