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Title: How UK and USA Films Represented and Performed Scottishness from 1895 to 1935: With Particular Attention to the Transition to Sound (1927–1933)
Author(s): Ritchie, John
Supervisor(s): Neely, Sarah
Izod, John
Keywords: Acting
Issue Date: 9-Aug-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis explores the manners in which UK and USA cinema represented and performed Scottish people’s national identity from 1895 to 1935. It starts with the early years of cinema and identifies certain characteristic themes and motifs borrowed from both literature and theatre. Once these themes are established, the thesis moves on through the silent film era tracing developments, or stagnation, in the performances of Scottishness. The transition to sound is the key period for the thesis and it examines the variety of “Scottish” accents that were heard in cinemas. Performed Scottishness from the USA is explored and the thesis identifies methods by which Hollywood brought “Scottish” voices to the screen. In tandem with this, UK productions at the outset of synchronised sound-on-film are investigated. The most famous Scotsman in the world, Sir Harry Lauder, is analysed both in terms of his performances of Scottishness and the effects of those performances on further representations of Scottishness. That is compared with the work of one of his closest contemporaries, Will Fyffe. Verisimilitude, an attempt to bring reality in representations in narrative drama, is scrutinised in a case study of the 1930 film, The Loves of Robert Burns. The study closes in 1935 by which time fully synchronised talking features had become the staple in the English speaking cinema. The UK straddled the past, with the Scot as a figure to be feared, and the future, with the Scot as a truly modern man. Through the use of dialogue coaches, some USA productions presented vocal performances that distinguished nation from nation. This work enabled the on-screen presence of Scottish characters of significantly enhanced verisimilitude. This thesis makes a contribution through the study of this period for further understanding of the ways in which early cinema and sound film represented Scotland on screen.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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