Centre for History seminar

Dr Kristin Lindfield-Ott will give a talk on 'The other Macpherson: James Macpherson's historical literacy' as part of the Centre for History's seminar series.

Dr Lindfield-Ott's paper offers an alternative reading of the varied body of James Macpherson’s work: it explores Macpherson as a historian. Part of a larger project that engages with his entire corpus to bring together his literary, political and historical writings, this paper shows Macpherson as a historian working in different genres — in verse and prose, fiction and non-fiction. From his earliest publications in the monthly magazines to his genuine histories in the 1770s Macpherson was preoccupied with the past, and this book is the first study to systematically examine his works in the light of this. In this paper we explore examples of Macpherson’s fiction and non-fiction as historical writings, in the larger context of eighteenth-century philosophies of history and historiography. From The Highlander (1758) and extracts from the Ossianic Collections (1760- 63) to his ‘actual’ histories in the 1770s, Macpherson is presented as a biographical historian who celebrates the nation’s past as a philosophical historian engaged in exemplary and conjectural historicising.