Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism, 1707-1840: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism, 1707-1840

1st Edition

Edited by Alex Benchimol, Gerard Lee McKeever


248 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

Book Content Available Open Access*
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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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The first applied research volume in Scottish Romanticism, this collection foregrounds the concept of progress as 'improvement' as a constitutive theme of Scottish writing during the long eighteenth century. It explores improvement as the animating principle behind Scotland’s post-1707 project of modernization, a narrative both shaped and reflected in the literary sphere. It represents a vital moment in Romantic studies, as a 'four-nations' interrogation of the British context reaches maturity. Equally, the volume contributes to a central concern in the study of Scottish culture, amplifying a critical synthesis of Romanticism and Enlightenment.

Chapter 9 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license.

Table of Contents


[Nicholas Phillipson]

Introduction: Mapping Cultures of Improvement in Scottish Romanticism

[Alex Benchimol and Gerard Lee McKeever]

Part I: Print, Progress and Politeness

1. Andrew Millar’s 'Good Vouchers': The Malt Tax Crisis and Trade in Controversy

[Adam Budd]

2. Let Scotland Flourish by the Printing of the Word: Commerce, Civic Enlightenment and National Improvement in the Glasgow Advertiser, 1783-1800

[Alex Benchimol]

3. 'Simplicity, Rightly Understood': Improvement in the Collaboration of Robert Burns and George Thomson

[Gerard Lee McKeever]

Part II: Literature, Land and Commerce

4. Thomas Pennant, National Description and the Project of Improvement

[Nigel Leask]

5. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Improvement: David Dale, Robert Owen and New Lanark Cotton

[Michael Morris]

6. Pastoral Optimism at Improvement’s Frontier: James Hogg’s Highland Journeys

[Alex Deans]

7. 'Earth and Stone': Improvement, Entailment and Geographical Futures in the Novel of the 1820s

[Penny Fielding]

Part III: Death, Legacy and Medicine

8. Reading John Anderson’s Will: Improving Human Nature, Science and Scotland in a Commercial Society

[Tom Furniss]

9. Medicine and Improvement in the Scots Magazine; and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany (1804-17)

[Megan Coyer]

10. A Death in the Cottage: Spiritual and Economic Improvement in Romantic-Era Scottish Death Narratives

[Sarah Sharp]

Postscript: Varieties of Cultural Improvement in the Long Eighteenth Century

[Gerard Carruthers]

About the Editors

Alex Benchimol is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glasgow.

Gerard Lee McKeever is a founding Co-Convener of the Scottish Romanticism Research Group at the University of Glasgow.

About the Series

The Enlightenment World

Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century
[Current P&C blurb]: This series features monographs that take an innovative and challenging look at the political and intellectual history of the Enlightenment period. The richness of the Enlightenment experience makes it a significant topic for study. It had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of life during the long eighteenth century and many of its values are familiar to modern society. Some of the key themes that this series embraces include the scientific revolution; philosophical origins and progress of the Enlightenment; high and popular culture; the political impact of the Enlightenment; and its comparative impact in a broad European context.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century