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Title: Landscapes of Belonging: Self, Nation and Gender in the Fiction of Neil M. Gunn
Author(s): MacLeod, Mairi
Supervisor(s): Hames, Scott
Jackson Williams, Kelsey
Keywords: Scottish Nationalism
Romantic Nationalism
Folk culture
Carmina Gadelica
Gender and Landscape
Scottish fiction
Scottish Renaissance
Symbolic femininity
Identity and place
Highland landscape
Issue Date: 11-Nov-2020
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This dissertation offers a critical re-assessment of the fiction of Neil M. Gunn, focused on the inter-related discourses of landscape, nationhood and gender. Building on earlier Gunn scholarship and recent critical developments in landscape studies and Scottish studies, it specifically examines how Gunn’s treatment of Highland landscape articulates with his romantic nationalism, supported by folk culture sourced from Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica. Gunn’s fiction also renders the passive feminine as an accessory to active masculine nation-building, while his female characters are often relegated to purely symbolic roles within a male national narrative. The treatment of landscape in Gunn’s novels reveals the multi-faceted nature of his nationalist ideology, and its roots in both the Scottish Literary Renaissance and earlier European Romanticism, whereby recovering the authentic folk culture of the people rejuvenates and gives legitimacy to the nation, supports its ethnic and political identity and enables access to the primordial ‘youth’ of the nation. The Romantic immersion and rediscovery of the self in nature is translated by Gunn into an encounter with national place as sacred bounded territory. Nationalist discourse in Gunn’s fiction is also articulated through a gendered landscape of masculine defeat and renewal, supported by problematic and reductive figurations of sacred, symbolic femininity. In reconstructing and defining the relationships between these strands of Gunn’s literary, political and spiritual project, this dissertation offers a productive engagement with long-standing critical debates in Gunn studies.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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