Presentation Title

Ossian, Johnson, and Wordsworth: Authors and Authenticity

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

School

School of Arts and Humanities

Discipline

English

Mentor

William Stroup

Date & Time

April 9th at 9 AM - 10 AM

Location

David F. Putnam Science Center, Room 161

Abstract

James Macpherson published "The Poems of Ossian" in 1760 as part of Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated From the Gaelic or Erse Language to much fanfare and popular acclaim. Even in Macpherson's day, there were critics who disputed his claims to authenticity, notably Samuel Johnson, who said that Macpherson's works were forgeries. This presentation contextualizes the idea of forgery and literary fraud within the framework of post-Romantic theories of authorship and originality as well as the editing practices of the late 18th century. Scholarship on Macpherson remains sharply divided on questions of plagiarism, forgery, and literary merit, though it is united on his influence and fame throughout Europe in the early nineteenth century. Revisiting the Ossian controversy in light of recent scholarship allows us to understand the complex reactions of major writers like Samuel Johnson and William Wordsworth in this case.

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Ossian, Johnson, and Wordsworth: Authors and Authenticity

David F. Putnam Science Center, Room 161

James Macpherson published "The Poems of Ossian" in 1760 as part of Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated From the Gaelic or Erse Language to much fanfare and popular acclaim. Even in Macpherson's day, there were critics who disputed his claims to authenticity, notably Samuel Johnson, who said that Macpherson's works were forgeries. This presentation contextualizes the idea of forgery and literary fraud within the framework of post-Romantic theories of authorship and originality as well as the editing practices of the late 18th century. Scholarship on Macpherson remains sharply divided on questions of plagiarism, forgery, and literary merit, though it is united on his influence and fame throughout Europe in the early nineteenth century. Revisiting the Ossian controversy in light of recent scholarship allows us to understand the complex reactions of major writers like Samuel Johnson and William Wordsworth in this case.