Heteroglossia in Greenvoe: teaching a Scottish novel in the context of British Cultural Studies


  • Helen Reid Thomas


This paper is concerned with the place of literature in Cultural Studies. I intend to discuss a novel by George Mackay Brown, an Orcadian Scottish writer, in the context of a British Cultural Studies course that I have recently been closely involved in. The first part of the article will describe the history and structure of the course in some detail and I will then go on to consider how my experience of teaching Greenvoe1 for one of the course modules opened up for me a new way of reading the novel, drawing on Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia. The course is the Advanced Certificate in the Teaching of British Cultural Studies offered by Strathclyde University. Though originally designed for a particular group — university and secondary school teachers in Bulgaria—it is not rigidly Bulgaria-specific and is in fact being developed at present into a distance learning degree which will eventually be widely available. Most of my references will be to the situation in Europe but I hope it will appear that our experience there is of relevance elsewhere also.