Voice of the Immigrant Bard: Social Commentary in Scottish Bardic Compositions in Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia

  • Author / Creator
    Roeseler, Cara-Joy
  • The poetry of the Scottish emigrant bards in the nineteenth century provides integral insight into the experience of the immigrant Scots in Nova Scotia. This thesis explores the role of the Scottish emigrant bards as social commentators; that is, how the narrative and bardic elements present within poetry reflects the identity and experience of the immigrant Scot. I have selected the poetry of three prominent immigrant bards to Nova Scotia: John MacLean, John the Hunter MacDonald and Allan the Ridge MacDonald. I show that the bards in question used traditional bardic elements, structure and language to exercise their role as social commentators, influencing their audience in Scotland and in Nova Scotia. Their commentary focuses on a variety of topics, including emigration, loss of homeland or nostalgia, anger towards those who influenced or forced emigration, and the experiences of pioneer life in Nova Scotia. I employ the following methodology in Voice of the Immigrant Bard: first, I explore briefly the history of bardic tradition in Scotland and how the role of the bard changed over the centuries. Secondly, I outline the sociopolitical circumstances in Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that led to the mass exodus of Scots from the Highlands and Islands. Finally, presenting the bards chronologically according to the dates of the poetry, I use textual analysis to identify the traditional bardic elements (such as praise, dispraise, and the panegyric code) that are meant to sway their intended audiences, and serve as both an expression of their own experiences and that of the immigrant Scot.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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