Juliet Shields, associate professor of English, has received a Fulbright Scholar Award to spend six months doing research at the National Library of Scotland. She describes her project as follows:
"In the nineteenth century, Scottish writers from Walter Scott to Robert Louis Stevenson created the romanticized version of Scotland that still dominates popular representations of the country today. This is the Scotland of Outlander—a Scotland of sublime Highland landscapes, stalwart heroes, and kilted ruffians. My research on nineteenth-century Scottish literature has revealed an overlooked literary tradition of realistic counter-representations in works by women writers—from stories of mundane domestic life in villages where nothing ever happens to accounts of grinding poverty in Glasgow’s slums. These women’s works provide a corrective to a literary and historical perspective that associates Scotland with romance and emotion, and England with realism and reason.
During my time at the National Library of Scotland, I’ll be working on a book about these little-known women and their works titled The Romance of Everyday Life: Scottish Women Writers 1815-1939. The National Library holds a wealth of archives that will be essential both to recovering this forgotten tradition of Scottish women’s writing and to determining why it was forgotten in the first place. For instance, I’ll have the opportunity to read the “fan mail” written by factory workers to Annie S. Swan, a popular writer who, in addition to writing over 200 novels, somehow found time to run for Parliament and to advocate publicly for food conservation during World War I; and I’ll get the chance to analyze the unfinished manuscript of a novel by Susan Ferrier, a writer known as 'the Scottish Jane Austen,' which she abandoned because of her anxieties about the moral value of fiction. Working with these and other archives will enable me to paint a detailed picture of the world in which nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Scotswomen lived and wrote and to argue that their writing constitutes a distinct and coherent chapter in the development of the British novel that demands scholarly attention both for its literary value and its historical significance."