John Paul Jones and the curse of home

Mckeever, G. (2020) John Paul Jones and the curse of home. Philological Quarterly, 99(1), pp. 95-117.

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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.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mckeever, Dr Gerard Lee
Authors: Mckeever, G.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Philological Quarterly
Publisher:University of Iowa
ISSN (Online):2169-5342
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 University of Iowa
First Published:First published in Philological Quarterly 99(1):95-117
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3000470Regional Romanticism: Dumfriesshire and Galloway, 1770-1830Gerard McKeeverBritish Academy (BRITACAD)pf170008Arts - English Literature