English 216: Scottish Literature

Spring Term 2013
Professor Kenneth  McNeil 
Office phone: 5-4578 
e-mail: mcneilk@easternct.edu
Office: Webb Hall  230

Office Hours: 
Tuesday, Thursday 12:
Wednesday 10:00-12:00

And by appointment

Required Materials

Jackie Kay, Trumpeter

Alastair Macleod, No Great Mischief (Vintage)

Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Penguin)

copy packet

Course Description

This course will provide an overview of Scottish Literature and culture in a long span of years, but we will be examining the subject in the context of issues and themes that are very much part of our contemporary multicultural, diverse, modern world. From 1700 and onwards Scottish writers and artists have played a major role in formulating the theories we use to make sense of the complexity of culture throughout the world. At the same time, Scottish culture itself has played out many of these complexities in its history. Reading the literature of three different languages, Gaelic, English, and Scots. We'll look at writers included in the British canon of writers, in English and Scots, such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott; lesser-known authors writing in Gaelic, such as Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, Mairi Nic A Phearsain, and Iain MacGhillEathain; and contemporaries, such as Jackie Kay, Bashabi Fraser, and Alastair MacLeod. Thus, the class will provide a global perspective through literature by introducing you to the literature of a people who have made a contribution to modern notions of diversity, cultural difference, and identity far greater than their relative small number might suggest.

Though we will be focusing on literature, we will also be looking at a variety of cultural representations, such as paintings, photographs, cartoons, ads, music, tv clips, websites, and other material. In addition I will provide a few materials, handed out in class and on my website, from time to time to help with the historical context. Throughout the course we will be focusing on themes of communal belonging and isolation, pride and self-loathing, and joy and frustration in the literature of a people that have informed much of our modern understanding of national identity and cultural difference.

This course is an English literature course and is designed to expose you to literary works and literary analysis, which you will demonstratemostly by writing papers.However as a Tier II Cultural Perspectives course ENG 216 is designed to:

Course Requirements

Research Paper20%

Response Papers 40%
Response One
Response Two
Response Three
Response Four

Oral Presentation 10%

Quizzes 5%

Midterm 15%

Participation 10% (includes in-class group work)

Research Paper
You will have the opportunity to write a short research-based literary analysis (4-6 pages) on the topic we will cover. Part of your grade will be based on preliminary outline materials, completion of a draft, and peer/instructor conferencing.

Response Papers
There are four response papers, one due about every third week. Response papers are linked to specific reading assignments and are posted on the course website (see above). You are to respond to any one day's questions from each assignment. Response questions must be typed, double-spaced and turned in on the day that you have selected. For example, answers to questions from February 9th's reading must be turned in on that day.
Late papers will be subject to a reduction in grade. After-due date extensions, except in the case of emergencies, will be difficult to obtain.

Avoid plagiarism (stealing the exact words or ideas of another) like the plague. In this class acts of plagiarism incur a zero and could also result in course failure or expulsion from the university.

Oral Presentation
At some point early in the semester I will divide the class into four or five groups.  Each group will then be given the task of putting together an oral presentation. There are several throughout the semester.  Each presentation will be devoted on a specific topic.  (See the Calendar for specific topics)  Each presentation should be at least 15 minutes (and last no more than 20 minutes) and must include at least one handout to be given to the class as a whole.  In addition you must provide me with a bibliography of your research materials in MLA format. Beyond the handout and the bibliography, the materials and format of the presentations are only limited by the group's imagination and may include use of a variety of media.

In addition to a mid-term exam, there will be three short surprise quizzes given throughout the semester.  These are intended merely to give friendly encouragement to keep up with the assigned reading in class.

Regular attendance of classes is absolutely expected for this course.
From time to time you will work in groups in class and provide written summaries of your work to be handed in to me. Three or more unexcused absences will lower your participation grade significantly.


Week 1

January15 : Introduction

January 17: Some historical/linguistic/geographical background; national stereotypes and Scottish reaction

Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland; James Boswell's London Journal; David Hume letter to John Wilkes, Robert Fergusson "To the Principal and Professors of the University of St. Andrews" (in packet)

Week 2

January 22: Pride of a stateless nation? Robert  Burns and cultural nationalism

"It Was a' for Our Rightfu King," "To a Haggis," "Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation," "Scots, Wha Hae," "Scotch Drink," "On the Late Captain Grose's Perigrinations Thro' Scotland," "O'er the Water to Charlie," "Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat?"

January 24: Robert Burns, (contd.); Tom Leonard "(3)," "and from "'Ghostie Men'" (at end of packet)

Student Response: Katie Levis, Dialect and Tom Leonard's Poetry

Week 3

January 29: Poetry of the Scottish Gaeltacht on wearing the tartan ; Oral Presentation: a Brief History of Tartan

Hugh Cheape Tartan, selections; Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair "Oran Luiadh no Fucaidh (A Waulking Song)," "Am Breacan Uallach (The Proud Plaid)"; Iain Mhic Fhearcahir "Oran Mu'n Eideadh Ghaidhealach (Song to the Highland Dress)"; Uilleam Ros "Oran do Mharcus nan Greumach agus do'n Eideadh Ghaidhealach (A Song to the Marquis of Graham and to the Highland Dress)"

January 31 : The Scottish Tartan, cont.
Short biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie


Week 4

February 5: Theorizing cultural difference: The Scottish Enlightenment

Adam Smith, "The Four Stages of Society"; William Robertson, "Comparative History"

February 7: The Noble Savage: Scottish and Native American versions

Walter Scott, "The Two Drovers"

Week 5

February 12:  Clash of Cultures

Walter Scott, "The Two Drovers," cont.

Student Response: Linda Davenport "The Two Drovers"

February 14: Oral Presentation: The Highland Clearances

Poetry of the Clearances:
Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair  "Brosnachadh nan Gaidheal (An Incitement for the Gaels)"Duncan Ban Macintyre "Oran nam Balgairean (Song to the Foxes)"; Mairi Nic a Phearsain "Brosnachadh nan Gaidheal (An Incitement for the Gaels)," "Soraidh leis an Nollaig uir (Farewell to the New Christmas)," "Nuair bha mi og (When I Was Young)"

Week 6

February19: Poetry of the Clearances, contd.:

Uilleam MacDhunleibhe "Fios thun a Bhaird (A Message to the Bard)"; Iain MacGhillEathain  "Am Bard an Canada (The Poet in Canada)

February 21: Scottish Diaspora

Alastair Macleod, No Great Mischief (Read to Chapter 17, page 118)


Week 7

February 26: Alastair Macleod, No Great Mischief ( Read to Chapter 30, page 198)

February 28: Alastair Macleod, No Great Mischief

Week 8

March 5: Alastair Macleod, No Great Mischief (Read to end)

March 7: Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Week 9

March 12:  Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

March 14: Mid-term

Week 10

March 19: Oral Presentation: Scotland and the British Empire; Scottish Empire

James Cromb, The Highland Brigade, selections

March 21: Scotland and Martial Race Theory

Week 11

Happy Spring Break!

Week 12

April 2: Class cancelled, homework: read Bashabi Fraser, Tartan and Turban, selections pages 32, 40, 45, 59, 66, 70-71, 72, 75, 76, 78, 79, 83, 84, 91-92, 97-101, 103, 105-107

April 4: Research Methods and Materials

Week 13

April 9: Bashabi Fraser, Tartan and Turban, selections pages 32, 40, 45, 59, 66, 70-71, 72, 75, 76, 78, 79, 83, 84, 91-92, 97-101, 103, 105-107

April 11: Oral Presentation: Contemporary Scottish Nationalism
Tom Leonard "Dripping with Nostalgia," "hangup"

Week 14

April 16: Sorley MacLean "Ard-Mhusaeum na h-Eireann (The National Museum of Ireland)," "Curaidhean (Heroes)"; Derick Thomson "Sheep," "Princess Diana"

April 18: Jackie Kay, Trumpet ( Read to page 117 "Interview Exclusive")

Week 15

April 23: Jackie Kay, Trumpet (Read to pg. 196, "House and Home") Oral Presentation: Teaching Scottish Literature and/or Culture in an American Classroom

April 25: Jackie Kay, Trumpet (Read to end)

Week 16
April 30: TBA; Research Paper Due

May 2: Reading day, no class

A Bibliography on Scottish Literature and Nationalism

Some Useful Links
Slainte's Gateway to Scottish Authors
Rampant Scotland's Literature
Scottish Poetry Library

Reading Response Examples (good and bad)

Scottish History Timeline (detailed)
The Jacobite Rebellion
The Highland Clearances
Short biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Contemporary Voices:  The Highland Clearances
History of the Highland Clearances:  A Timeline

A Guide to Gaelic Scotland
The Scuil Wab
Scots Online

Scottish Politics Pages
The Scot Online
The Scottish Parliament Website

Scottish Nationalism
The Nationalist Project Scottish Page
The Scottish Nationalist Party
Scots for Independence
"The Development of Scottish Nationalism"
The Declaration of Arbroath

The Nationalism Project
Waulking and Waulking Songs

Illustration: Needlework Map of Scotland 1797 (Source: Map Library, The National Library of Scotland)

"If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact the Office of Disability Services at (860) 465-5573.  To avoid any delay in the receipt of accommodations, you should contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible.  Please understand that I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from the Office of Disability Services.  Your cooperation is appreciated."