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Dryasdust Antiquarianism and Soppy Masculinity: The Waverley Novels and the Gender of History

Dryasdust Antiquarianism and Soppy Masculinity: The Waverley Novels and the Gender of History

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Published by: Evan Gottlieb on Jun 17, 2012
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Dryasdust Antiquarianism and Soppy Masculinity: The Waverley Novels and the Gender ofHistoryAuthor(s): Mike GoodeSource:
Representations,
Vol. 82, No. 1 (Spring 2003), pp. 52-86Published by:
Stable URL:
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52
MIKE GOODE
Dryasdust Antiquarianismand Soppy Masculinity:The Waverley Novels andthe Gender of History 
D
ominick
L
 a
C
 apra has been arguing
for some time now thatrelationshipsbetweencontemporaryhistoriansandtheirobjectsof inquiryarefun-damentally transferential and, ideally, ‘‘dialogic.’
1
Historians narcissistically proj-ect their discipline’s controversiesonto the past, and when thingsgo well, the past’sirreducibility to the termsof such controversiesvoicesitself, disruptingthose termstothepointthathistoriansunderstandboththe pastand theirdisciplinedi
erently.If we provisionallyaccept LaCapra’s modelof the ideal historian—the historianas‘‘
mentalite ´ 
case,’’ ashe oncecharacterizedit—then wemightarguethatforcontem-porary historians of the discipline of history, one of the most disruptive dialoguesoughttooccurwhenstudyinganinuentialpredecessorwhopracticesandportraysotherkindsof transferentialhistory. Particularlyprovocativewouldbethe dialoguewith a predecessor who idealizes transferences with the past that involve the mate-rialrealmofthebodyasmuchastheydothemental’’realmofdisciplinarycontro- versy. Such a dialogue would add a more blatantly physical component to scenesthat we had grown accustomed to perceiving as just talking, perhaps complicatingthe view that the hallmark of modern historicism’s development was the rise of adialogic relationship to the past. Indeed, if this earlier transferential history wereimplicated in its age’s own disciplinary controversies over history, it would inevita-bly alter our understanding of the discipline’s history as well.This essay initiates such revisions through a reading of Sir Walter Scott’s
The  Antiquary
(1816), among the most popular of Scott’s immensely popular WaverleyNovels during the nineteenth century (so solid was the novel’s canonization by the
 abstract
This essay attempts to widen the discursive contexts through which scholars understandRomantic historicism andtherole of WalterScott’sWaverleyNovelsin its development.PlacingScott’s
The  Antiquary
(1816) and ‘‘Dedicatory Epistle’’ to
Ivanhoe 
(1819) in dialogue with contemporaneous verbal and visual discourse over antiquaries, Edmund Burke, and the Lady Hamilton a
air, the essay proposes thatRomantic historicism disciplined bodies as it dened and authorized new forms of knowledge. Romantichistoricists perceived the ability to relate to and know the past properly as dependent on the manliness of the historical thinker’s sentimental and sexual constitution. Thus, the era’s arguments over the legitimacyof di
erent forms of historical inquiry, as well as over the historical novel’s cultural authority in relationto the eld of history, frequently became contests over the manliness and sensibility of their practition-ers’ bodies. / Representations 82. Spring 2003
q
The Regentsof theUniversity of California.
issn
0734-6018 pages 52–86. All rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to Rights and Permissions,University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Ste. 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223.
 
53
Dryasdust Antiquarianism and Soppy Masculinity
earlytwentiethcenturythatVirginiaWoolfassumedthatreadersof 
To the Lighthouse 
needed only a small clue to identify it as the novel provoking Mr. Ramsay’s tears,and E.M. Forster made it the butt of his famous distinction between ‘plot’and‘‘story’’ in
Aspects of the Novel 
 ).
2
In the novel, Scott interrogates the cultural legiti-macy of variousmodes throughwhich individualsknow the past and live with thatknowledge, and he does so while modeling individual relationships to history interms that resonate with LaCapra’s. But he also emphasizes the intimacy of thosemodes, portraying historical pursuits as sentimental and sexual ones too. Speci-cally, I mean to show that Scott’s novel about the 1790s asserts the post-Waterloorelevance of that earlier decade’s widespread concerns that historical inquiry canimproperly sentimentally and sexually initiate—and, therefore, according to thelogic of the period, also improperlygender—British men. Like participantsin thatearlier decade’s debates over historical inquiry, the novel demarcates the eld of history’s legitimacy as one whose borders men literally ought to feel: it not onlysuggests that the sentimental and sexual constitutions of historically minded menare relevant when judging their competence as historical thinkers but also impliesthat the legitimacy of historical pursuitsdepends upon the manliness of the senti-mental and sexual education that those pursuits impart. As itself a kind of history,
The Antiquary
may only raise such concerns in orderto commit them to the grave, deecting them backwards onto 1790s antiquarian-ism and implying in turn that historicalpursuits’a
ective proprietyand manlinessimprovedafter that decade. I shall argue,however, that becausesuch pursuitssincethe 1790s had come to include Scott’s own novels, historical narratives that at-tended in partto realms previously associatedwith antiquarianresearch, the novelalso gave those concerns continued life, particularly for historical novelists tryingto grant their ctions cultural authority by way of association with history. This isclearinScott’s ‘DedicatoryEpistle’to
Ivanhoe 
(1819),hisfamousmeditationontheepistemologicalandmethodologicalproblemsfacingthehistoricalnovelist,whichIread as an e
ort to defend the historicalnovelist’s authority at the expense of anti-quaries by establishing the greater a
ective propriety and manliness of the novel-ist’s body.Scholars have long recognized the Waverley Novels’ importance to the rise of the novel and to the evolution of modernEuropeanhistoricism.Historiansas earlyas Thomas Macaulay, Jules Michelet, James Anthony Froude, and AugustinThierrycitethem asamajorinuenceontheirwork.Ifweacceptthisprivileging—and given, as I argue,that
The Antiquary
s terms forexamining history’s legitimacyare typical both of the Waverley Novels and of their age, I see no reason why weshould not—then Scott’s novel provides strong evidence that history’s early movetowarddisciplinizationwasalso aconsciousworkofdiscipliningmen’s feeling bod-ies.Onegoalofthis essay, then, istowiden the termsin whichcontemporaryschol-ars discuss Scott’s historicism. While early-twentieth-century novelists like Woolf and Forster and critics like F.R. Leavis dismissed the Waverley Novels as boyish

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