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Scottophobia in mid eighteenth-century England. Proposals due June 15, 2012. Conference dates Nov. 1-3, 2012
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East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
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Scottophobia in mid eighteenth-century England
What we may see today as a shameful aspect of mid eighteenth-century English life was its Scottophobia. Even as Scottish cities and the Lowlands were enjoying the benefits of union with England in the form of more trade, better employment opportunities both in England and overseas, greater wealth, increased refinement, and expanded travel, and England was benefiting at all levels from growing Scottish immigration, while moral sciences and medicine flourished in Scotland as never before, there were Englishmen who kept up a stream of anti-Scottish sentiment and propaganda. Samuel Johnson is perhaps the most notorious, though his relations with Scotland and the Scots were often of a different hue and some of his anti-Scottish statements may have been made for effect than sincerely held. But there were others who were more virulent. In some cases the animus was merely personal (e.g. a dislike of individual Scotsmen in Charles Churchill’s case), or motivated by trivial reasons (e.g. a dislike of haggis or Scottish accents). At other times aesthetic reasons were adduced (e.g. an antipathy to bagpipe music, Scottish scenery, or to James MacPherson’s deception). Occasionally Scottophobia was inspired by political or religious belief (e.g. John Wilkes’s suspicion that Bute was out to bring back Stuart absolutism, or a suspicion that the Scots were secretly Jacobites or sympathetic to Catholicism). The panel hopes to explore some of these issues, and in the process also ask whether in this Scottophobia may be read clues to English attitudes towards history, race and foreign civilizations.