'What are ye, little mannie?': the Persistence of Fairy Culture in Scotland,1572-1703 and 1811-1927
Hight, Alison Marie
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This thesis is a chronologically comparative study of fairy culture and belief in early modern and Victorian Scotland. Using fairy culture as a case study, I examine the adaptability of folk culture by exploring whether beliefs and legends surrounding fairies in the early modern era continued into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a single culture system, or whether the Victorian fairy revival was a distinct cultural phenomenon. Based on contextual, physical, and behavioral comparisons, this thesis argues the former; while select aspects of fairy culture developed and adapted to serve the needs and values of Victorian society, its resurgence and popularization was largely predicated on the notion that it was a remnant of the past, therefore directly linking the nineteenth century interpretation to the early modern. In each era, fairy culture serves as a window into the major tensions complicating Scottish identity formation. In the early modern era, these largely centered around witchcraft, theology, and the Reformation, while notions of cultural heritage, national mythology, and escapist fantasy dominated Victorian fairy discourse. A comparative study on fairy culture demonstrates how cultural traditions can help link vastly different time periods and complicate traditional conceptions about periodization. Ultimately, this thesis reveals how issues of class impacted the popularization and persistence of fairy culture across both eras, reflecting ongoing discussions about Scottish identity.
- Masters Theses