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Gendered nation : Anglo-Scottish relations in British letters 1707-1830 Alker, Sharon


My dissertation argues that national tropes are continually in a state of flux as they are employed to respond to historical, socio-political and cultural events and trends, and demonstrates that their state at a specific moment encapsulates struggles between various concepts of national identity. I trace shifts in the configuration of Anglo-Scottish relations by undertaking a microanalysis of two specific recurring tropological categories - familial and homosocial tropes — in a number of key moments in cross-border relations between 1707 and 1830. The first chapter, directed at the years surrounding the Union of Parliaments, traces the suppression of cross-border dissonance in homosocial egalitarian tropes which define Anglo-Scottish relations in the work of pro-union pamphleteers, and contrasts this strategy of containment with the disruptive presence of familial tropes in the pamphlets of anti-union writers. The second chapter traces the reappearance of this conflict in the decade following Culloden. Roderick Random, written from the margins by Tobias Smollett, reveals a discomfort with unifying tropes, although it ends with a cursory gesture towards a national marital union. James Ramble, in contrast, written by the English Edward Kimber, deflects dissonance onto Jacobitism, suggesting through tropes of friendship that all aspects of Anglo-Scottish relations are seamlessly integrated into British unity. Chapters three and four foreground the 1760s, a decade in which Scottish agency, in the person of Lord Bute, the Lord Treasurer, seems to reach new heights. Yet it is also a decade of rampant Scotophobia, incited by the Wilkites to undermine Bute's authority. Tropological warfare is an important element of this rhetorical conflict. In chapters five and six, I uncover two competing concepts of Britishness, primarily created by English and Irish writers, which emerge in the 1790s. The first engages with homosocial tropes to foreground Scottish agency in nation-building and empire-building projects, but does so at the expense of a distinct Scottish culture. The second, also produced by English and Irish writers, reifies and celebrates Scottish culture through tropes of cross-border courtship, but tends to represent the emergent concept as endangered, lacking national agency. Chapter six analyzes the Scottish response to this tropological binary.

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