Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland
Title Details

265 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Series: Scottish Historical Review Monograph Second Series

Imprint: Boydell Press

Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland

by Martha McGill

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
An examination of how and why Scotland gained its reputation for the supernatural, and how belief continued to flourish in a supposed Age of Enlightenment.
SHORTLISTED for the Katharine Briggs Award 2019

Scotland is famed for being a haunted nation, "whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry". Medieval Scots told stories of restless souls and walking corpses, but after the 1560Reformation, witches and demons became the focal point for explorations of the supernatural. Ghosts re-emerged in scholarly discussion in the late seventeenth century, often in the guise of religious propagandists. As time went on, physicians increasingly reframed ghosts as the conjurations of disturbed minds, but gothic and romantic literature revelled in the emotive power of the returning dead; they were placed against a backdrop of ancient monasteries,castles and mouldering ruins, and authors such as Robert Burns, James Hogg and Walter Scott drew on the macabre to colour their depictions of Scottish life. Meanwhile, folk culture used apparitions to talk about morality and mortality.
Focusing on the period from 1685 to 1830, this book provides the first academic study of the history of Scottish ghosts. Drawing on a wide range of sources, and examining beliefs across the social spectrum, it shows howghost stories achieved a new prominence in a period that is more usually associated with the rise of rationalism. In exploring perceptions of ghosts, it also reflects on understandings of death and the afterlife; the constructionof national identity; and the impact of the Enlightenment.

MARTHA MCGILL completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh.
Introduction
Medieval and Reformation Ghosts
Evangelising Ghosts
Scepticism and Debate
Gothic and Romantic Ghosts
Ghosts in Popular Culture
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index
"An excellent book that provides a new and effective approach to a complicated topic." SCOTTISH CHURCH HISTORY
"[A]n impressive entrylevel book into the cultural importance of ghosts in Scottish history and a most welcome addition to academic studies of the supernatural." PRETERNATURE
"An enticing, well researched study composed of five carefully structured chapters, each possessing a conclusion that elegantly synthesizes its main points." REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES
"Martha McGill's beautifully written study of ghosts as cultural signifiers provides an important contribution to a growing number of studies into the social and cultural significance of belief in the paranormal. . . . For those readers unconvinced of the value of studying belief in the supernatural as a way into understanding societies and cultures, I would encourage you to sit down with this book. If it does not change your mind, nothing will. And, even if your mind remains unchanged, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read." Christopher Partridge, Journal of British Studies

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9781783273621

November 2018

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Title Details

265 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Series: Scottish Historical Review Monograph Second Series

Imprint: Boydell Press