Gothic engagements in contemporary Scottish and postcolonial fiction
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date21/04/2024
This thesis contributes to the debate on Scotland’s postcolonial connections, adopting a transnational and comparative approach to examine the ways in which contemporary Scottish and postcolonial literatures engage with the Gothic genre. Consideration of genre facilitates the dialogue between Scotland and the postcolonial: this thesis traces a historical trajectory from the emergence of the Gothic in Scotland, through its circulation in imperial spaces, to its contemporary presence in world literatures, examining contemporary engagements with the genre in Scotland as well as in three settler-invader nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) with Scottish diasporic connections. Foregrounding its interaction with psychoanalysis and trauma theory, the thesis asks how the Gothic has been mobilised as an interpretative framework in different contexts, and what cultural and political issues that raises. A comparative reading of Alice Thompson’s Pharos (2002), James Robertson’s Joseph Knight (2003) and Jackie Kay’s The Lamplighter (2007) explores how contemporary writers have drawn on the Gothic genre to address Scotland’s involvement in empire, slavery and colonialism as part of revisionist engagement with Scotland’s past since devolution. The thesis then examines the engagement with the Gothic in the postcolonial writing of authors with settler backgrounds in Canada, Australia and New Zealand: analysis of Alice Munro’s ‘A Wilderness Station’ (1994), David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon (1993) and Keri Hulme’s The Bone People (1983) demonstrates how cultural relations with the lost homeland and with Indigenous cultures are reimagined as postcolonial futures and coded into an engagement with the Gothic genre. Finally, through consideration of Patricia Grace’s Baby No-Eyes (1998), Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach (2000) and Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise (1997), the thesis examines contemporary counter-appropriations of the Gothic by Indigenous writers in the same three postcolonial contexts. These writers engage with the Gothic to address transgenerational disruptions ensuing from the contact between colonial settlers and Indigenous cultures, simultaneously inviting and countering Gothic interpretations to challenge and provincialise Western epistemologies. Contemporary engagements with the Gothic coincided with moments of national self-scrutiny and both Scottish and postcolonial writers use the genre to address legacies of colonialism including transgenerational trauma, collective memory and silenced histories.
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