5 March 2012

Ann Rigney

The Afterlives of Walter Scott - Memory on the Move

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was once a household name, but is now largely forgotten. This book explores how Scott's work became an all-pervasive point of reference for cultural memory and collective identity in the nineteenth century, and why it no longer has this role.

Ann Rigney breaks new ground in memory studies and the study of literary reception by examining the dynamics of cultural memory and the 'social life' of literary texts across several generations and multiple media. She pays attention to the remediation of the Waverley novels as they travelled into painting, the theatre, and material culture, as well as to the role of 'Scott' as a memory site in the public sphere for a century after his death.

Using a wide range of examples and supported by many illustrations, Rigney demonstrates how remembering Scott's work helped shape national and transnational identities up to World War One, and contributed to the emergence of the idea of an English-speaking world encompassing Scotland, the British Empire and the United States.

Scott's work forged a potent alliance between memory, literature, and identity that was eminently suited to modernization. His legacy continues in the widespread belief that engaging with the past is a condition for transcending it.

Ann Rigney holds the chair of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University and is coordinator of the university’s research focus area Cultures and Identities. In this focus area the dynamic interplay between media, representations, and patterns of inclusion and exclusion in society is studied from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining expertise in the fields of media and the arts, religion, and governance.

Title: The Afterlives of Walter Scott - Memory on the Move
Author(s): Ann Rigney
isbn: 978-0-19-964401-8
Price: £ 55.00
Publisher: 2012, Oxford University Press