This book explores, from a variety of critical perspectives, the playwright's place in Scotland and the place of Scotland in his work. The influence of Scotland on William Shakespeare's writing, and later on his reception, is set alongside the dramatic effects that Shakespeare's work had on the development of Scottish literature. The Shakespeare's work of Scottish literature stretches from the Globe to globalisation, and from Captain Jamy and King James to radical productions at the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Shakespeare have strong Scottish connections by virtue of his theatre company's being brought under the sponsorship of the Scottish king James VI immediately after his accession to the English throne in 1603. Jonathan Goldberg and Alvin Kernan have traced the impact of royal patronage on Shakespeare's work after the Union, finding Scottish themes at play not just in Macbeth, but also in Cymbeline, King Lear, Hamlet, and in other plays. Then, the book outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. Shakespeare wrote his English plays in Elizabeth's reign and his British plays after 1603, though Henry V, first performed in 1599, might be regarded as a proto-British play. Unlike Henry V, Shakespeare's most English play, where national identity is of the essence, in Macbeth, Scotland is a blot on the landscape. Shakespeare's political drama moves from a sense of England and Scotland as independent kingdoms into an alignment with the views of Unionist King James.
Scotland’s Catholic Church before
For much of the period between the Reformation and the nineteenth century,
Catholicism existed on the periphery of Scottish society, its survival fraught
with uncertainty in an atmosphere of institutionalised anti-Catholicism and
extreme poverty. The Scottish Mission, a term used to describe the Catholic
Church in Scotland between 1603 and 1878, when it had no formal governing
hierarchy, had been thrown into complete disarray by the Reformation. Those
who remained Catholics went underground, keeping their
Macbeth’s national identity in the eighteenth century
One of the best-known features of
Macbeth is its alias. Such is the notoriety of the
misadventure apparently visited upon those foolhardy enough to utter
‘Macbeth’ within a theatre, that it is frequently referred
to as ‘the Scottish play’, even by those without a
superstitious bent. 1
The adoption of this moniker, like the avoidance of walking under
The Scottish dreamscape: formation
The people portrayed in this study are chasing dreams of Scotland. They do not
usually celebrate modern Scotland, the place on the map, but a Romantic fantasy of Scottish history, a land of kilts, Celts, clans, and bagpipes. The Scots of
Europe – much like their cousins, the roots enthusiasts of North America and
Australasia – cherish the Scottish dreamscape.
The Scottish dreamscape was not invented by Hollywood – even if films such
as Annie Laurie (1927), Brigadoon (1954), Highlander (1986), and Braveheart
Finding Scottish art
Nationality and art
The relationship between nationality and art, or something like it, has
been central to the history of art – scholarly or popular – whether in the
minimal form of this national school or that national school, or in a more
focused way as in ‘the Italian Renaissance’ or ‘French Impressionism’.
The art in question is seen as directly related to a national or quasinational set of circumstances, and indeed the art is seen as having some
significant link to the nationality of those who carried it out.
Our Scottish past: commemorations
The pipers and athletes examined in the previous two chapters do not imitate
the past. While it is important to most of them that the musical, athletic, and
sartorial traditions they engage with are ‘old’ and solidly rooted in history, they
do not attempt to reproduce that history. They perform in what they hope is an
ancient but living Scottish tradition. Commemorators and historical re-enactors
have a totally different objective. As the next two chapters demonstrate, they seek
to recall or even recreate the past in the
The Scottish dreamscape: spread
The Scottish dreamscape originated in the second half of the eighteenth century.
How then is it possible that it continues to inspire European play-actors today?
This chapter investigates the Highland mythology’s endurance and spread.
Again, this is a chapter not on Scottish national identity, but on an internationally potent stereotype.
The image of Scotland as a wild Highland periphery was disseminated by
two of the most wide-reaching forces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the British Empire and American popular
The Last King of Scotland and post-imperial Scottish cinema
Not British, Scottish?:
The Last King of Scotland and
post-imperial Scottish cinema
Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker): You are British?
James Garrigan (James McAvoy): Well, I’m Scottish . . . Scottish . . .
Idi Amin: Scottish? Why didn’t you say so?
(Dialogue exchange from The Last King of Scotland)
With a number of major awards to its name – including an Oscar
and a Golden Globe – and an international box office return second
only to Trainspotting, The Last King of Scotland is one of the most
high-profile films that Scotland has seen. Despite this, it has only
A Tory-free Scotland
Pierre Bourdieu once described parliamentary democracy as a struggle in which
the most important agents – political parties – are engaged ‘in a sublimated form
of civil war’ (1991: 181). Taking up this metaphor, I would suggest that when I
began my fieldwork in September 2001, Dumfries and Galloway resembled a
political battlefield which the Conservative Party could be said to have vacated.
What eventually made the Scottish Conservatives of potential ethnographic
interest to me was exactly this apparent absence: the fact that the Scottish
‘Ireland, verses, Scotland: crossing
the (English) language barrier’
The very problem of the national and the individual in language is
basically the problem of the utterance (after all, only here, in the utterance, is the national language embodied in individual form). (Mikhail
Bakhtin, cited Wesling 1997: 81)
The Irish mix better with the English than the Scotch do because their
language is nearer. (Samuel Johnson, cited in Boswell 1906 : 473)
Why Scotland and Ireland? What is marginal, one might ask, about
cultures that have produced