Exporting 'the cotter's saturday night': Robert burns, scottish romantic nationalism and colonial settler identity

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Abstract

A Scottish literary icon of the nineteenth century, Burns's ‘The Cotter's Saturday Night’ was a key component of the cultural baggage carried by emigrant Scots seeking a new life abroad. The myth of the thrifty, humble and pious Scottish cottager is a recurrent figure in Scottish colonial writing whether that cottage is situated in the South African veld or the Otago bush. This article examines the way in which Burns's cotter informed the myth of the self-sufficient Scottish peasant in the poetry of John Barr and Thomas Pringle. It will argue that, just as ‘The Cotter’ could be used to reinforce a particular set of ideas about Scottish identity at home, Scottish settlers used Burns's poem to respond to and cement new identities abroad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalRomanticism
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date31 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Scottish Romanticism
  • Settler Colonialism
  • Robert Burns
  • Thomas Pringle
  • John Barr
  • John Wilson
  • POETRY

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