From Enlightenment to Romance: Adam Ferguson’s Philosophy of History in Scottish Romantic Literature

Dane Anderson : History, English Minor

Mentor: Jonathan Sheehan, History & Ian Duncan, English

In preparation for his senior honors thesis, Dane is studying the relationship between literatures of the Scottish Enlightenment and Romantic periods. Specifically, he is exploring how Adam Ferguson’s theory of history, described in the Essay on the History of Civil Society, colors major texts of Scottish Romanticism. The scholarship surrounding Ferguson’s work has focused on its political and sociological implications, but there has not yet been any major study of Ferguson’s relationship to Scottish Romanticism. Through close reading and archival research in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dane will fill this gap by tracing characteristic elements of Ferguson’s Essay—its communitarian orientation, its republican critiques of commerce, and its ambivalent attitude towards progress—in the novels of Walter Scott, John Galt, and James Hogg, and the poetry of James Macphereson and Robert Burns.