Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Culture Studies Framework for Scottish Studies

Today was our full introductory engagement with the Cultural Studies approach to literature, favoured at present, as we have seen, in the field of Scottish Studies. For instance, as mentioned in lecture last week, and in an earlier post, the recent event sponsored by Dr. Davis and the St. Andrews & Caledonian Society -- a talk by Dr. Murray Pittock, professor of Scottish and Romantic Literature, Manchester University -- discussed historic and contemporary views of what it means to be a Scot. His neologistic concept of fratriotism was, in essence, a representation of colonial Scots activity at the studied level of culture: i.e. a uniquely Scots culture of horizontal relationships amongst individuals.
  • Note that the article hot-linked above in the term Cultural Studies is a Wikipedia entry. This is perfectly consistent with my views on the oxmoronic project (i.e. creditable open-source encyclopedia): articles on Wikipedia are perfect for convincing people who are convinced by Wikipedia. (You will recognise this, of course, as a braw Brodie-ism.)

There were several reasons given in lecture, as part of the explanation of the Gardiner article, why Cultural Studies is a particularly attractive approach in this day & age for Scots Studies.

Among these are the French character of the theorists central to Cultural Studies: Virilio, Delueze, Derrida, Foucault. Scotland has, as indicated in some of our texts, a strong historical connection (especially heavy in the sixteenth century) to France: three of our Scots "Mary's" were queens or consorts in France, for a start. Additionally, the anti-colonial orientation of this theoritic mode conveniently enables contemporary Scots to blur the image of their forebears' energetic Imperialist endeavours.

Lastly, considering the matter at an academic level, the very nature of what is called (using Dr. Pittock's term, for instance) a project of Scottish Identity is inescapably cultural: a Scottish nationalism as much as a Scottish project peopled by those in principle hostile to, or, at least, suspicious of, nationalisms, require for social significance the existence of unique culture specifically separate from the English -- even the word "British" is used by them in actual or mental quotation marks. Hence, the Cultural Studies approach gives Scots Studies a formal body that harmonises with its substantial being.

An article arguing that the Cultural Studies approach is a necessity can be read at this link.

This now all being said, keep in mind that in this course we are taking a critical approach to Cultural Studies in relation to Scottish Literature after 1945. That is, our position is a scholarly neutral one, where Cultural Studies has the status of one of the objects in our field of study of Scotland & its fiction today.

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