Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Humanities

Committee Chair

Eric Tribunella

Committee Chair School

Humanities

Committee Member 2

Katherine Cochran

Committee Member 2 School

Humanities

Committee Member 3

Jameela Lares

Committee Member 3 School

Humanities

Committee Member 4

Alexandra Valint

Committee Member 4 School

Humanities

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on Scottish cultural identity and its erasure in nineteenth-century British children’s literature as successful Scottish authors became known as British authors, and British children’s literature was canonized as the genre’s first Golden Age. Specifically, it explores the ways that Catherine Sinclair, George MacDonald, R. M. Ballantyne, Robert Louis Stevenson, J. M. Barrie, and Helen Bannerman—six popular nineteenth-century Scottish authors—maintain a sense of Scottishness in their adventure fiction. By reading the texts in the historical context of the authors’ biographies, I demonstrate that the land in their works and the benevolent colonizers allowed to control it in some texts are coded as geographically, culturally, and religiously Scottish. The settings in Sinclair’s Holiday House and in MacDonald’s Princess books are directly inspired by their childhood haunts in Edinburgh and Huntly, and the use of Scottish landscape as testing ground for their protagonists’ moral worth reflects their religious upbringings. The control of land and the portrayal of missionary characters in Ballantyne’s The Island Queen and Coral Island is also heavily influenced by his Scottish childhood and religious upbringing. Ballantyne establishes a link between his child-protagonists’ moral worth and their right to colonize the islands upon which they are stranded. In A Child’s Garden of Verses, Stevenson mythologizes the Scottish garden as the training ground in which his speaker prepares for manhood. I posit Neverland in Barrie’s Peter Pan as a colonized space that reflects Barrie’s internal conflict between his ascetic Scottish childhood and the class status he attained in England. The conclusion uses the fate of Bannerman’s Little Black Sambo as an example of the larger cultural erasure that occurs once these authors are repackaged as British authors and Britishness is sometimes equated with Englishness by critics and scholars.

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