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Scottish romanticism and its impact on early Canadian literature

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  • Pr English Literature
  • Literature
  • Religious Science


This research considers the impact of Scottish romanticism on the construction of literary identity in the Canadas prior to Confederation (1867). I argue that early Scottish dominance in literary Canada, and similarities faced by both countries in defining a sense of self—including participation in a wider empire (or Union), populations divided by language and religion, and the need for a distinct identity in the face of a dominant neighbour to the south—all contributed to a tendency on the part of Canadians to look to Scotland as a model. Through an examination of early Canadian literature and on-going British constructions of the colony, the thesis considers the manner in which Scottish romantic strategies of literary nationalism are deployed and manipulated in the process of articulating a Canadian identity. Particular attention is paid to the works of John Galt and Major John Richardson, while tropes examined include the construction of landscape and settlement narratives, stadial histories, the historical novel, national tale and the depiction of a national history, and the manipulation of a romanticised Scottish military past in constructing Canadian history.

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