Angela Esterhammer

“Speculation, Displacement, and Transatlantic Entanglement”

Two hundred years ago, Scotland was caught up in a climate of financial and imaginative speculation. It was also embarking on an era of global interconnectedness that saw mass emigration and land development in the colonies as well as renewed mobility within post-Napoleonic Europe. Scottish writing of the early nineteenth century fuels international speculations and real-world mobility, but also seeks to contain uncertainty, contingency, and displacement within the norms of plot and genre. These patterns are evident in the types of writing that proliferated during the 1820s and 1830s, from travel narratives to the poetry of emigration and guides for settlers. My lecture examines the intersections of literature and life in this era with special attention to transatlantic literature and to the work of John Galt, a writer and entrepreneur who exemplifies many of these developments. Through examples from Galt’s fiction, his travels, and his activities as a land developer in British North America, I will examine how speculation, displacement, contingency, and entanglement shape the transatlantic ventures and adventures of nineteenth-century Scots and as well as their literary productions.