Views
4 years ago

Issue 40, Nov. 2012 - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Issue 40, Nov. 2012 - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

37 much of the 20 th

37 much of the 20 th century. But their support has nosedived from a majority of votes and seats at the 1955 general election to just a single constituency and 17 per cent of the vote in May 2010. This collection brings together academics, writers, commentators and analysts of Scottish politics to address the nature of the Scottish Conservative Party: its standing in Scotland, its influence on the Union, its role in the Scottish Parliament and why it fell so out of favour with the Scottish electorate. Key Features: Divided into 2 parts: The Rise and Fall of Unionist Scotland and In the Political Wilderness; includes contributions from leading academics and political commentators including Richard Finlay, Colin Kidd, Catriona Macdonald, James Mitchell and Alex Massie. West, Gary, Voicing Scotland: Folk, Culture, Nation, Edinburgh: Luath Press 2012 (paperback £12.99) Voicing Scotland takes the reader on a discovery tour through Scotland‟s traditional music and song culture, past and present. West unravels the strings that link many of our contemporary musicians, singers and poets with those of the past, offering up to our ears these voices which deserve to be more loudly heard. What do they say to us in the 21st Century? What is the role of tradition in the contemporary world? Can there be a folk culture in the digital age? What next for the traditional arts? Winstanley, Lilian, Hamlet and the Scottish Succession: Being an Examination of the Relations of the Play of Hamlet to the Scottish Succession and the Essex Conspiracy, Cambridge: CUP 2012 (paperback £22.00) First published in 1921, this volume constitutes an attempt to view Hamlet in the light of contemporary history, pointing out possible links between the action of the play and the surrounding context of its creation. Given the lack of biographical material on Shakespeare and the consequent mystery surrounding his intentions, attention is focused on the relationship between the play and its potential audience. Through this approach an unusual thesis is developed, one in which the play is seen as casting a positive light on the Essex conspiracy and the future succession of James I. This is a fascinating and controversial study that will be of value to anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Jacobean history, or literary criticism. Table of Contents: Preface, Introduction, 1. Richard II and Hamlet, 2. Hamlet and the Darnley murder, 3. James I and Hamlet, 4. 'The play within a play' and Hamlet's voyage to England, 5. Polonius, Rizzio and Burleigh, 6. Ophelia, 7. Hamlet and Essex, 8. Conclusion, Appendices, Index. Book Reviews Groundwater, Anna, The Scottish Middle March, 1573-1625: Power, Kinship, Allegiance, Boydell, 2010 (Royal Historical Society Studies in History) (Hard-back, £50, ISBN 978-0- 86193-307-5). The Anglo-Scottish borders have long been an area heavily associated with notions of pervasive violence and criminality. This vision of the borders largely originated in the eyes of sixteenth-century English observers and, to a lesser degree, central Scottish government, but subsequently has been adopted with alacrity by modern scholars. Located on the geographical periphery of both England and Scotland, distance from their respective centres of government Scottish Studies Newsletter 40, November 2012

38 has encouraged the development of a historiographical myth that whilst the borders were in, they were somehow not quite of the kingdoms to which they formally belonged. Dr Groundwater‟s key contention is that this must be challenged, at least in the case of the Scottish Middle March. An attempt to rescue the Middle Marches from their historiographically splendid (or, perhaps more appropriately, squalid) isolation is the driving force of the monograph, twinned with a no less important intention of providing a counterbalance to previous Anglocentric accounts of the region. In both cases, the evidence which Groundwater brings to bear on her arguments is persuasive: it is quite clear that no one alive today knows more about the men and machinations of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Middle March than this author. The monograph is accordingly filled with impressively detailed observations and accounts of the political position and significance of the important border families of the Armstrongs, Kers and Scots. Of the seven chapters, the first five constitute an exploration of how life in the Middle March was structured and functioned, considering in turn the nature of „frontier society‟, socio-political and administrative structures, connections between central government and the Middle Marchers, and issues of crime, feud and violence. The final two chapters shift gear to provide a chronological account of the process of pacifying the borders, demonstrating how the influential factors identified in the first part of the book played out in specific circumstances. This division, however, also serves to highlight the contrast drawn by Groundwater between the continuity present in the structure of Middle March society and the changing reactions of central government to the Marches. As such, it also serves Groundwater‟s explicitly myth-busting agenda. This myth-busting approach is two-pronged: first, through a detailed consideration of the role of kinship as a force for continuity and stability in the Middle March. Secondly, Groundwater highlights the extent to which government policy and pronouncements on the borders cannot be used as an accurate gauge of on-the-ground events. Groundwater reveals the extent to which the Middle Marches were firmly integrated into Scottish national life by demonstrating the extent to which the heads and senior members of border kindreds served to connect their localities and central government, and the related willingness of successive governments to utilise these connections. Kin-groups therefore serve as a central unit of analysis for Groundwater and consideration of their influence advances her argument in three ways. First, by demonstrating the extent to which the Middle March can be regarded as part of Scotland: here, as elsewhere, kinship was paramount. Secondly, she argues that, as elsewhere in Scotland, kin-groups provided continuity in the government of the marches and thus served as a force for stability throughout the period of her study: this point in particular forms a sharp contrast to previous accounts in which the notorious border „surnames‟ were synonymous with disorder (53). Thirdly, however, Groundwater argues that the strong force for continuity and, indeed, stability, provided by Scottish kin groups was a crucial differentiating factor between the Scottish Marches and their English counterparts (102). In drawing this distinction, Groundwater simultaneously demonstrates the importance of viewing the Scottish borders as a region distinct from their English neighbours – an approach which, again, places her at substantial variance with previous commentators (25). Whilst kin-groups provided continuity, however, the relationship the borderers had with Edinburgh between 1573 and 1625 was marked by considerable change. Groundwater considers government policy towards the borders to be characterised by several different periods. The first of these was Morton‟s regency, when, in the aftermath of the Marian Civil War, the Regent sought „to tighten judicial measures‟ ( 158) motivated in part by concerns surrounding the necessity of continued English support in the post-war period. Interestingly, the failure of Morton‟s attempts to control the borders through placing his own supporters in positions of Scottish Studies Newsletter 40, November 2012