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Title: The Author and the Shepherd: The Paratextual Self-Representations of James Hogg (1807-1835)
Authors: O'Donnell, Stuart
Supervisor(s): Gilbert, Suzanne
Keywords: James Hogg
The Ettrick Shepherd
Peasant Poet
Issue Date: 15-Aug-2012
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The Author and the Shepherd: The Paratextual Self-Representations of James Hogg (1807-1835) This project establishes a literary-cultural trajectory in the career of Scottish poet and author James Hogg (1770-1835) through the close reading of his self-representational paratextual material. It argues that these paratexts played an integral part in Hogg’s writing career and, as such, should be considered among his most important works. Previous critics have drawn attention to Hogg’s paratextual self-representations; this project, however, singles them out for comprehensive analysis as literary texts in their own right, comparing and contrasting how Hogg’s use of such material differed from other writers of his period, as well as how his use of it changed and developed as his career progressed. Their wider cultural significance is also considered. Hogg not only used paratextual material to position himself strategically in his literary world but also to question, challenge and undermine some of the dominant socio-cultural paradigms and hierarchies of the early-nineteenth century, not least the role and position of ‘peasant poets’ (such as himself) in society. Hogg utilised self-representational paratextual material throughout his literary career. Unlike other major writers of the period Hogg, a self-taught shepherd, had to justify and explain his position in society as ‘an author’ through these pseudo-autobiographical paratexts, which he attached to most of his works (in such forms as memoirs, introductions, dedications, notes and footnotes, and introductory paragraphs to stories). Via these liminal devices he created and propagated his authorial persona of ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’, whose main function was to draw attention to Hogg’s preeminent place in the traditional world, and to his status as a ‘peasant poet’. It was on the basis of this position that he argued for his place in the Scottish literary world of the early-nineteenth century and, ultimately, in literary history. His paratextual self-representations are thus a crucial element in his literary career. Drawing on Gerard Genette’s description of ‘the paratext’, the authorial theories of Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault (along with more recent authorial criticism), as well as autobiographical theory, this project traces Hogg’s changing use of self-representational paratexts throughout his career, from his first major work The Mountain Bard (1807) to his final book of stories Tales of the Wars of Montrose (1835). By reading Hogg’s paratexts closely, this project presents a unique view – from the inside out – of the specific literary world into which Hogg attempted to position himself as an author.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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