Gendering Walter Scott: Sex, Violence and Romantic Period Writing, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Gendering Walter Scott

Sex, Violence and Romantic Period Writing, 1st Edition

By C.M. Jackson-Houlston


270 pages

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Hardback: 9781472456274
pub: 2017-04-24
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315584256
pub: 2017-04-21
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Employing gender as a unifying critical focus, Caroline Jackson-Houlston draws on the full range of Walter Scott’s novels to propose new links between Scott and Romantic-era authors such as Sophia Lee, Jane Porter, Jane Austen, Sydney Owenson, Elizabeth Hands, Thomas Love Peacock, and Robert Bage. In Scott, Jackson-Houlston suggests, sex and violence are united in a central feature of the genre of romance, the trope of raptus—the actual or threatened kidnapping of a woman and her subjection to physical or psychic violence. Though largely favouring the Romantic-period drive towards delicacy of subject-matter and expression, Scott also exhibited a residual sympathy for frankness and openness resisted by his publishers, especially towards the end of his career, when he increasingly used the freedoms inherent in romance as a mode of narrative to explore and critique gender assumptions. Thus, while Scott’s novels inherit a tradition of chivalric protectiveness towards women, they both exploit and challenge the assumption that a woman is always essentially definable as a potential sexual victim. Moreover, he consistently condemns the aggressive male violence characteristic of older models of the hero, in favour of restraint and domesticity that are not exclusively feminine, but compatible with the Scottish Enlightenment assumptions of his upbringing. A high proportion of Scott’s female characters are consistently more rational than their male counterparts, illustrating how he plays conflicting concepts of sexual difference off against one another. Jackson-Houlston illuminates Scott’s ambivalent reliance on the attractions of sex and violence, demonstrating how they enable the interrogation of gender convention throughout his fiction.


"Gendering Walter Scott: Sex, Violence and Romantic Period Writing conducts a comprehensive review of Walter Scott’s major novels through the lens of gender studies […] This is an important book. It fills a gap in Scott studies, pro-vides an in-depth exploration of romantic gender ideology, and justifies the current scholarly rediscovery of Scott as a key figure in the field."

- Yanxu Chen, Northeast Normal University, China, Scottish Literary Review

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 ‘Hardly any women at all’?: Gender and genre

Chapter 3 Witches, bitches, gipsies: women and psychic power

Chapter 4 ‘Fanaticism … in the face of the Father?’: The displacement of the feminine in Rob Roy and romantic treatments of rape

Chapter 5 ‘The full force of sisterly sorrow’: the ethics of justice in The Heart of Mid-Lothian

Chapter 6 ‘A barbarous, unfeminine use of power’: romantic constructions of renaissance Queenship

Chapter 7 Fathers of their countries? Scott, Porter and male rulers

Chapter 8 ‘A dingy or damaged commodity’: circulation, honour and commodification in Scott’s Saint Ronan’s Well

Chapter 9 ‘She herself must venture … beyond the prescribed boundary’: the construction of gender and cultural difference through four Orientalist fictions

Chapter 10 ‘Men of blood’ and ‘the speech of a woman’

Chapter 11 Mountain maidens and cowgirls: exercise, athleticism, and its ideological constraints for several Scott heroines

Chapter 12 Women warriors and other outlaws

Chapter 13 Conclusion

Select bibliography


About the Author

Caroline Jackson-Houlston has forty one years' experience teaching Romanticism at Oxford Brookes University, UK and contributed to the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels for twenty five years as a consultative editor for folksong allusions.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Women