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2.18.2007

because you were all wondering what I'm writing my dissertation on, here's a brief synopsis of my 'research context':

When James Macpherson published his Fragments of Ancient Poetry in 1760, he went to great lengths to make the Fragments appear to be authentic remains of an ancient, heroic oral tradition. His reasons for this were largely political, and as such, influenced the content of the epics themselves. As an attempt to establish a particularly Scottish identity, the poems were quite effective. However, to do so required both a simplification and a manipulation of traditional mythology. Stripped of anagogical significance, the Ossian epics more or less represented an Enlightenment version of history, tradition, and mythic heritage. The stories themselves were changed by their very purpose and in turn changed the manner of representing myth in future narratives.

Moreover, the emphasis on the Ossian epics as authentic tales from the past, as ‘fragments,’ served to distinguish form from content in a new way. The epics were not so important as stories as they were as artefacts. In the same way that the British Museum, which was established in 1753, displayed certain items as representative of a particular culture, so also were the Ossian writings put forth as representative pieces of the past.

There you go. This all sounds really interesting, but I'm not sure if it's actually valid. I suppose that's what my dissertation will show. 'Initially I thought that Ossian marked a change in definitions of mythology, but now I am convinced that it stayed the same from the beginning to the end of the year 1760. Thus, there is no point to these 15000 words.' Oh dear...

note: one thing I left out: I am focusing on the responses located in Edinburgh and London. and I'm presently unsure to what extent I will involve contemporary literary theory.

6 comments:

  1. it does sound cool and vaguely relevant to the phenomenon of King Arthur in establishing an English national identity and divine right of monarchy, as well as Chaucer's cultural and political significance. :)
    we need to discuss over tea.

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  2. jessica with the bright red hair23 February, 2007 07:08

    that jess is the one you left behind, btw. :)

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  3. i am trying to come home in April. there will be much tea and talk, I promise.

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  4. I really want to say something about this dissertation stuff but... I cant think of anything remotely intelligent.
    Sounds real smart, you do.

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