Scottish Literature, 1740-1830

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This module examines the unique achievements of some of the greatest writers ever produced by Scotland. Scottish Literature, 1740-1830 includes important historical figures, such as Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Tobias Smollett, as well as lesser known writers set to gain renewed attention (Joanna Baillie, John Galt, and Thomas Campbell, among others). Together we will explore the diverse range of Scottish literature in the Romantic period, including pastoral poetry, satire, ballads and songs, gothic fiction, drama, the picaresque, and other modes. We will look at the ‘big 6’ Gaelic poets of the period (in translation): John MacCodrum, Alexander MacDonald, Robert Mackay, Dugald Buchanan, Duncan Ban Macintyre, and William Ross.

Indicative content

·         Tobias Smollett and Henry Mackenzie;

·         James Macpherson and James Boswell;

·         Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns;

·         Walter Scott and James Hogg;

·         Joanna Baillie and Carolina Oliphant;

·         John Galt and John Wilson.


Most of the reading material will be made available in Module Packs. The reading schedule for the seminars will be devised in consultation with the enrolled students. You will also have the opportunity to participate in research for Daniel Cook’s forthcoming anthology for Oxford World’s Classics: Scottish Literature, 1740-1830.


  • A reading journal comprising short weekly extracts (30%);
  • A research essay of not more than 5,000 words (70%)


Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principal Scottish writers of the Romantic period;
  • the diverse forms and genres of Scottish literature;
  • the ways in which literature reflects and questions contemporary social concerns;
  • the influence of leading theorists of Scottish literature.


Dr Daniel Cook