Many a Scot seemed surprised by the opening of a new Scottish Parliament in 1999. Few seemed clear where it had come from. Was it a British trick or a Scottish triumph? This book decides by investigating the fact that Scotland manages to hold onto an identity apparently out of proportion to its size. Through the twentieth century, Scots often blamed their land's vivid imagery for making the nation seem a place of local color rather than a political space. But looking back from the moment beyond the Scottish Parliament, we can see that Scotland's signs have played a large role in maintaining an idea of Scotland that, by the end of the twentieth century, made a Parliament seem both possible and necessary. The essays gathered here, by leading cultural critics and historians of Scotland, show how, since the late eighteenth century, Scotland has been converted into lively signs capable of rewriting the nation today.
Contributors: Caroline McCracken-Flesher, Murray Pittock, Leith Davis, Susan Manning, Ian Duncan, Miranda Burgess, Charles Snodgrass, Valentina Bold, Douglas S. Mack, George Dalgleish, Craig Buchanan, Robert Crawford, Cairns Craig.
"This is an exceptionally rich and stimulating collection of essays which seems to inaugurate a new style of cultural historiography in Scottish studies. The most memorable readings combine a new-historicist attentiveness to occasions, artefacts, and the 'social energies' that coagulate around them with an astute awareness of how institutions, power-brokers, and popular consciousness give these energies the political form and symbolic currency they require to enter history as something more than narrative. It is, in this respect, quite in step with the present-day devolutionary structures it documents, struggling to cast off their high-concept glossiness and become jobbing democratic institutions." --Scott Hames, University of Stirling (Victorian Studies, 50.3, Spring 2008)
"This collection is a stimulating reconsideration of many of the cultural signifiers of Scotland and of what possibilities those signifiers may - or may not - hold in a devolved political structure. "
--Katherine Haldane Grenier, The Citadel (Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies, Volume XXX, 2006)