Oltreoceano: rappresentazione e autorappresentazione nelle lettere degli emigranti scozzesi del 19° secolo


  • Marina Dossena




The study of (self-)representation in nineteenth-century Scottish emigrants’ letters presupposes the use of a range of sources which may prove very complex in their plurality. They are generally documents authored by people whose level of schooling could vary considerably and whose self-education may in fact be perceived in their letters, journals, memoirs and autobiographies. These materials may be supplemented with journal reports, literary travelogues, and emigrants’ guides which purport to describe what emigrants may expect to find upon arrival, but whose reliability is not always guaranteed. In addition, there may be other sources, mostly pertaining to music and painting, in which emigration is portrayed in apparently subjective terms, but which contribute to the creation and maintenance of a collective view of reality, whether veined with nostalgia for ‘the old country’ or enthusiastically encouraging settlement in new territories. In this paper such sources are discussed in order to highlight their main intertextual connections; more specifically, my analysis will focus on emigrants’ correspondence from North America, in an attempt to draw attention to the value of such materials in a study of ‘language history from below’.


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