Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > From Walter Scott to Cormac McCarthy

Electronic data

  • 2018spencerphd

    Final published version, 1.73 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

From Walter Scott to Cormac McCarthy: Scottish Romanticism and the novel from the American South

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2018
Number of pages323
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis argues for the previously underemphasized influence of Scottish Romantic-era writing on the novel from the US South, demonstrating the formative impact of writers such as Walter Scott and James Hogg on the development of Southern writing, but also the ways in which Southern writers critique and revise this heritage. The thesis illustrates the significance of transatlantic connections between regional sections of nation-states, links which complicate conventional centre-periphery models of cultural exchange. My theoretical approach draws on contemporary theories of materiality in the work of Manuel Delanda and Tim Ingold, which I use to emphasize the significance of objects and material processes in the representation of temporality in the literature of the Scottish Romantic and Southern US traditions. I analyse Scottish Romanticism’s emphasis on uneven historical transitions as a method of revising Scottish Enlightenment Conjectural history. This mode of critiquing progressive narratives of historical development is also a structuring principle in the Southern novel, where it is used to articulate a disjunctive regional temporality in opposition to teleological narratives of nation-state history.
Chapter one analyses the work of Walter Scott and examines key Waverley novels in terms of those aspects which would be most significant for Southern US writing: the motif of the border and depictions of primitivism. My second chapter considers James Hogg and Edgar Allan Poe as related writers of Gothic short fiction in a transatlantic literary scene dominated by Scott’s legacy and the Scottish periodicals. The third chapter analyses Mark Twain’s travel writing and three of his novels to explore his response to Scottish Romanticism in his depictions of Southern domestic objects. Chapter four examines the writing of William Faulkner and his portrayals of Scottish planter dynasties in his fictional Mississippi. My final chapter analyses Cormac McCarthy’s fiction and his violent revisions of Scott’s border narratives.