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Title: Notional Identities: Ideology, Genre and National Identity in Popular Scottish Fiction, 1975-2006
Author(s): Christie, Thomas A.
Supervisor(s): Hames, Scott
Keywords: Scottish literature
Popular fiction
Popular genres
Science fiction
Speculative fiction
Crime fiction
Tartan Noir
National identity
Issue Date: 23-Mar-2012
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: One of the most striking features of contemporary Scottish fiction has been its shift from the predominantly realist novels of the 1960s and 1970s to an engagement with very different modes of writing, from the mixture of realism and visionary future satire in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark (1981) to the Rabelaisian absurdity and excess of Irvine Welsh’s Filth (1998). This development has received considerable critical attention, energising debates concerning how such writing relates to or challenges familiar tropes of identity and national culture. At the same time, however, there has been a very striking and commercially successful rise in the production of popular genre literature in Scotland, in categories which have included speculative fiction and crime fiction. Although Scottish literary fiction of recent decades has been studied in great depth, Scottish popular genre literature has received considerably less critical scrutiny in comparison. Therefore, the aim of my research is to examine popular Scottish writing of the stated period in order to reflect upon whether a significant relationship can be discerned between genre fiction and the mainstream of Scottish literary fiction, and to consider the characteristics of such a connection between these different modes of writing. To achieve this objective, the dissertation will investigate whether the features of any such shared literary concerns are inclined to vary between the mainstream of literary fiction in Scotland and two different, distinct forms of popular genre writing. My research will take up the challenge of engaging with the popular genres of speculative fiction and crime fiction during the years 1975 to 2006. I intend to discuss the extent to which the national political and cultural climate of the period under discussion informed the narrative form and social commentary of such works, and to investigate the manner in which, and the extent to which, a specific and identifiably Scottish response to these ideological matters can be identified in popular prose fiction during this period. This will be done by discussing and comparing eight novels in total; four for each chosen popular genre. From the field of speculative fiction, I will examine texts by the authors Iain M. Banks, Ken MacLeod, Margaret Elphinstone and Matthew Fitt. The discussion will then turn to crime fiction, with an analysis of novels by Ian Rankin, Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina and Louise Welsh. As well as evaluating the work of each author and its relevance to other texts in the field, consideration will be given to the significance of each novel under discussion to wider considerations of ideology, genre and national identity which were ongoing both at the time of their publication and in subsequent years. The dissertation’s conclusion will then consider the nature of the relationship between the popular genres which have been examined and the mainstream of Scottish literary fiction within the period indicated above.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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