112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Pilgrimage of Love: Circulation, Sensibility, and Empire in Sir Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian

Ray Crosby, Moreno Valley College

Sir Walter Scott’s 1818 novel The Heart of Midlothian chronicles Jeanie Deans’ perilous journey from Edinburgh to London, alone and on foot, to plead before the Queen for the life of her wrongly accused sister. Throughout her journey south, Jeanie becomes a representative of the exoticized and mobile empire within British borders and a figure for the emerging British identity beyond mere Englishness.

Proposal: 

Sir Walter Scott’s Romantic novel, The Heart of Midlothian (1818), chronicles Jeanie Deans’ perilous journey, alone and on foot, from Edinburgh to London in order to plead before the Queen for the life of her sister, Effie, who has been wrongly accused of infanticide.  To Jeanie, the duty is a sacred one that goes hand-in-hand with her religious beliefs, and the journey functions as a type of pilgrimage that she conducts out of faith in God and love for her sister.  Her conduct and attitudes contrast starkly with those of several other religious zealots in the novel, whose hypocrisy is clearly evident when they refuse to take action to help the innocent Effie.  Ultimately, when Jeanie arrives in London and gets access to the Queen through the intercession of the Duke of Argyll, it is largely Jeanie’s Scottishness that so impresses the nobles and secures the pardon for her sister.  Jeanie becomes a representative of the exoticized and mobile empire within British borders and a figure for the emerging British identity beyond mere Englishness, as formulated by Krishan Kumar, Laura Colley, and others.  In the denouement of the story, however, much more tragic configurations of travel and empire emerge, as the child in question, who was not killed after all, grows up to murder his own father and flee to the wilds of America in exile.  Circulations of people and identities are both empowering and dangerous in The Heart of Midlothian.