"Disturb not her dream:" the influence of Jacobite coding on Robert Burns's poetry ; and, Neither black nor white: Gray's liminal pastoral

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Virginia Blaire Eudy (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Anne Wallace

Abstract: Robert Burns has collected many personas throughout literary history. Known separately as a political satirist, bawdy poet, and romantic bard, Burns is often attributed with only one of these identities at a time. Many critics seem to ignore the importance of viewing Burns holistically. By unifying Burns's reputations we can elicit a deeper meaning from his lesser known works. Furthermore, by applying the lens of Jacobite coding, a form of communication often used during the Jacobite Movement (1688-1745), to his less overtly political love songs "Afton Water" and "Ae Fond Kiss," we as an audience can better understand Burns's unified identity. Through an extensive exploration of Jacobite lore and imagery in the love songs, I will demonstrate Burns's capacity for fostering various readings in the same source. More importantly, by establishing these sign posts we can continue to explore Burns's other works in order to better unify his multiple reputations and gain a deeper knowledge of his 18th century audience's reactions. AND Throughout Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" the speaker applauds the poor for their "heroic" suffering. As a poem sentimentalizing the poor, Marxist critics have often attacked the speaker's motives and his ability to identify with the poor he idealizes. In addition, the Marxist critics have often highlighted the pastoral elements in the work, and suggest that the nature of this mode lends itself to capitalistic propaganda. Although these Marxist readings allow the reader to understand the ways in which the speaker distances himself from the poor through his seemingly condescending diction, I would argue that this lens ultimately narrows the poem's potential for other goals. In Marxism's stead I suggest we reassess the poem through the lens of liminality. As a 20th century anthropological theory, liminality discusses the space of "in-between." Theorists argue that in this in-between space (i.e. a threshold or a transition), people are always considered equals, and that there is no overarching hierarchy. Furthermore, when applied to the pastoral, a mode of poetry set on the outskirts of society, liminality becomes a physical space, open for anyone to enter freely. By applying the 20th century anthropological lens of liminality, as discussed by Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner, to the definition of the pastoral, as posited by Roger Sales, I will explore the speaker's attempt to unify the social classes through the destruction of societal structures.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Ae Fond Kiss, Afton Water, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Jacobite, Robert Burns, Thomas Gray
Burns, Robert, $d 1759-1796. $x Criticism and interpretation
Jacobites $x Influence
Gray, Thomas, $d 1716-1771. $t Elegy written in a country churchyard $x Criticism and interpretation

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