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vii Series Editors’ Preface Periodisation is a highly sensitive and tendentious process, often incorporating hidden assumptions about the historically significant events in the continuous process of making literature, or any other form of knowledge and understanding. With other members of the editorial team of The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, for example, we wrestled with possible boundaries before adopting 1707 and the Union of the Parliaments as a significant period break, when 1746, Culloden and its after-effects were much more significant for Scottish literature in Gaelic. In the first period volume published in this series, Twentieth Century Scottish Literature, we were as comfortable as we might be that that century – running into this one – might make a sensible period division, as would the forthcoming volume on the nineteenth century. Defining earlier periods offered more challenges. In the end we have adopted a process that is avowedly imprecise and fluid, driven by our desire to reflect so far as possible changes that affected literature in all of the relevant languages of Scotland of the given period. Perhaps our choices will seem as arbitrary as that of 1707, a political more than cultural watershed, but we hope they offer food for fruitful discussion. A planned volume on early Scottish literature will conclude at around 1400, making the appearance of Barbour’s Bruce with all it stands for a culmination of a long period of writing in many languages in what would become Scotland. For the period this volume deals with, we wished to avoid the vexed word ‘renaissance’ in the title: it means different things at different times, all equally valid, in the study of Scottish literature. So we use a time period to mark this volume, concluding with the year of defeat of the Scottish army by Cromwell at Dunbar, given what that meant in the ensuing years for Scottish culture and politics, let alone its literature. Behind this decision lay our view that 1650 was as good a year as any to mark the beginning of the process of thinking and writing that is called the Scottish Enlightenment. The period volume viii after this one will thus be concerned with the literature of the long eighteenth century. This has meant, for the present volume, that authors have spanned a number of sub-periods often thought as dividing marks in Scottish history and literature, in particular the religious changes attendant on the Scottish Reformation. The complexity of the linguistic and literary communities of Scotland is further reflected, as in the volume on Scottish poetry edited by Carla Sassi, by encouragement to editors in all these periods to consider, where appropriate, joint chapters that look across linguistic communities . Such communities were not sealed from one another, but – as is demonstrated in several chapters of this volume – mutually interrelated. The strategies adopted for the earlier-period volumes of this series are, therefore, challenging and sometimes require very fresh thinking of editors and authors. Hence, we are more than usually immensely grateful to Nicola Royan and every contributor to this volume. Their work, we suggest, opens up new vistas in the understanding of Scottish literature of the period 1400–1650. Ian Brown Thomas Owen Clancy ...


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