I am happy to announce that I have a new article in the current issue of the US-based journal Philological Quarterly. This piece develops work from the Regional Romanticism project based on the US naval hero/Galloway pirate John Paul Jones. It focuses specifically on early literary representations of Jones, in particular novels by Allan Cunningham and James Fenimore Cooper. I’ll let the abstract speak for itself:
This article unpacks stories of John Paul Jones, the Kirkcudbrightshire sailor who mounted a series of raids around the British coast over 1778-79 as a privateer under the flag of the revolutionary United States, including an invasion of his home region in southwest Scotland. This turned Jones into a powerful mythic entity through which contemporaries attempted to negotiate questions of loyalty and belonging. The article pursues this overdetermined figure through a clustering of Romantic-era texts, most prominently Allan Cunningham’s novel of 1826 Paul Jones, yet to receive scholarly attention, with James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot (1824) as a counterpoint. It draws on a diverse critical landscape, pairing work on the nineteenth-century Scottish novel and on seafaring narratives with theoretical approaches developed within the environmental and specifically ‘blue’ humanities. It understands the Romantic figure of Jones in littoral terms, Cunningham in particular having turned him into an embodiment of the coastal region of the Solway Firth. In Cooper’s The Pilot, the article finds Jones’s history displaced to the seaboard of Northumberland in northeast England, in proximity of his most famous victory against HMS Serapis in September 1779. This act helps to illuminate Cunningham’s chaotic novel, in which the interest of the historical romance in locale has gone into pathological overdrive. There, Jones’s perceived betrayal of Britain, Scotland and (most powerfully) his birthplace, generates a narrative context in which the archipelagic circulations of global history are offset by a fixation with the ultimate expression of the local: home.
There are other pieces forthcoming as the funded period of the project draws to a close, including a chapter for a book on the 1820s edited by Professor Jon Mee and Dr Matthew Sangster, in which I discuss the Dumfries and Galloway Courier newspaper. Equally, I am guest-editing a special issue of Studies in Scottish Literature on the theme of ‘Literary Geographies: the Solway Firth’ that should appear in 2021.