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  • Scottish Literary Review
  • Gerard Carruthers, Editor

SCOTTISH LITERARY REVIEW is the leading international journal for Scottish literary studies, committed to approaching Scottish literature in an expansive way through exploration of its various social, cultural, historical and philosophical contexts, and of literary forms, both traditional and new. We are interested in comparative work with literatures from beyond Scotland, the interaction of literature with expressive media such as theatre and film, and in encouraging debate on issues of contemporary significance related to Scottish literary studies, so that SLR is both responsive to, and creative of, new readings and approaches. The journal is listed in the MLA International Bibliography and issues from 2013 onwards are accessible online as part of Project MUSE’s Premium Collection.

Editors’ Introduction

This issue of Scottish Literary Review is on the theme of ‘Britishness’. Its essays arise out of a seminar-series, ‘Literature and Union’, run by Professor Colin Kidd and myself from 2013 to 2015 and funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. As well as this special issue of SLR, a book collection of essays, Literature and Union, Scottish Texts, British Contexts will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. The activities of ‘Literature and Union’ featured participants from the disciplines of literary and historical studies and across the spectrum of political outlook. The starting point of the project, in the context of the 2014 Referendum debate, was to subject literary texts to discussion in terms of their place in the ‘nation-states’ of both Scotland and Britain. It was particularly hoped that we would produce more nuanced results than the rather one-dimensional accounts so often generated (in the eyes of this observer) in versions of politics and identity in Scottish literature primed by the cultural activism of the 1920s and 30s. Important though that period undoubtedly was, the influence it has had (and continues to have) is remarkable. If English Literature had remained in thrall to the cultural politics of T. S. Eliot for the length of time that Hugh MacDiarmid has seemed to exert power over Scottish Literature, most people would deem this to be rather odd. Still speaking personally and as a Burns scholar, it strikes me as somewhat strange that those who continue (following MacDiarmid) to lament a ‘Burns Cult’, have erected something of a ‘MacDiarmid Cult’. The concerted attempt to quantify Burns as a negative quantity is one of the more enduring features of MacDiarmidism. A future special issue of SLR might [End Page v] fruitfully examine MacDiarmidism in Scottish Literature, in both its negative and positive formulations.

As well as the five essays broadly within the theme of ‘Britishness’, there are three other essays in this issue: William K. Malcolm’s timely examination of the recent film-version of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song; Vivien Williams on traditional Scottish music in Kirsty Gunn’s contemporary novel, The Big Music; and a shorter piece by Ian Robertson on the textual influence of James Beattie on Robert Burns. [End Page vi]



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