Abstract

Written for the boozy antiquarian Francis Grose, Robert Burns’s “Tam o’ Shanter” depicts an intoxicated farmer who stumbles upon a witches’ coven. Drawing on Charles Taylor’s analysis of the phenomenology of the secularism, this paper shows how Burns’s Scots idiom for drunkenness--“getting fou”--contributes to a conceptual vocabulary for an ethical encounter with difference. Instead of promoting sympathy or tolerance for the enthusiasms of the pedantic narrator, the boorish protagonist, Tam, or the witches, the poem invites us to participate in their ecstatic experiences of fullness when we make our bodies vehicles for its sounds.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 1009-1041
Launched on MUSE
2016-12-08
Open Access
No
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