This article examines the reception of Old Norse literature and culture in the literatures of the ... Read more
This article examines the reception of Old Norse literature and culture in the literatures of the Scottish islands of Orkney and Shetland. It compares in particular the work of Shetland author James John Haldane Burgess (1862-1927) and the Orcadian author George Mackay Brown (1921-1996) and it evaluates the ways in which these two figures use their geographically peripheral positions as unique vantage points from which to reframe Nordic identity in their writing. By re-orientating the Scottish Islands from the periphery of Britain to the centre of important scenes in Nordic history, Haldane Burgess and Mackay Brown each construct a distinctive sense of geographical and cultural place. This approach allows the boundaries of the Nordic cultural sphere to be extended, and for a new and complex third space to emerge, in which the islands connect the Nordic and Anglo-Celtic realms and situate them within world literature.
This article argues that cartography and topographical description played a significant role in t ... Read more
This article argues that cartography and topographical description played a significant role in the way in which areas of the Scottish Northern Isles were represented and visualised, as a regional space, after the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, and, alongside that, the development of the concept of a British state and nation. Not only did topographical literature become more professionalised and commercially-oriented during the eighteenth century, but the visual representations of territories created in maps and charts became part of a network of cultural practices that both linked and divided historical regions across the British Isles. On the one hand, map-making re-negotiated national spaces in order to contribute to the formation the United Kingdom or Great Britain (itself a complex national entity) and, on the other hand, it provided an opportunity to re-create a sense of place or Northern regional identity, continuing to be part of an intercultural Northern European maritime region linked by the North Sea. As can be seen in the following case studies from the Shetland Islands and Western Norway, at ‘image level’, the change in perceptions about a region's identity (or one's own, within that region), often follows a long process, ‘since shifts in the attitudes of mental mapping tend to slowly follow changes in political and social conditions, mixing with philosophical and aesthetic conventions of the time’.
The Shetland Islands are a good example of what island cultures and societies can tell us about t ... Read more
The Shetland Islands are a good example of what island cultures and societies can tell us about the construction and maintenance of national identities, as well as the way in which historical perspectives and internalised ideas influence how we locate parts of Britain. How do these - other islands become part of the national mental map? And how do islanders themselves incorporate - Britishness into their cultural identity?
For the ―Northern Isles‖ of Orkney and Shetland, their geographical position has historically meant being an outpost of the British Isles, at its Northern ―edge,‖ as noted by Sandy Cluness, Convenor of the Shetland Islands Council, in an interview with The Journal: ―We are on the periphery and have all the higher costs that come with that and not many of the advantages. This chapter demonstates that the cultural heritage of the Scottish Northern Islands actually insists on being ―other, often resisting, and sometimes opposing, the dominant, national historical and political narratives. The Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland are therefore of real interest in terms of exploring the complex and adaptable nature of representing ―otherness‖ within British identity, and the way islanders actively utilise their economic, political and cultural-historical environment to create a multiplicity of localised island identities within the national narrative.