Sir Walter Scott's legacy explored in new online course

Sir Walter Scott's legacy explored in new online course

A free online course exploring the life, work and legacy of one of Scotland's greatest literary figures is being offered by the University of Aberdeen.

Walter Scott: The Man Behind the Monument, is a four-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) hosted by digital education platform FutureLearn.

The course - a partnership with the Abbotsford Trust - is led by Professor Ali Lumsden, Director of the University’s Walter Scott Research Centre and Honorary Librarian at Abbotsford, Scott’s home in the Scottish Borders that is home to the historic collections that helped inspire his writing.

Professor Lumsden will help deliver a series of video-based modules as part of the course, along with Kirsty Archer-Thompson, Collections and Interpretation Manager for the Abbotsford Trust. Professor Lumsden said the course will provide a comprehensive overview of Scott’s work and legacy, while challenging misconceptions.

“Many people think of Scott as the man who invented the ‘shortbread tin’ image of Scotland, but what this course aims to do is move people beyond this simple and sometimes negative reputation,” she explained.

“While it is true that Scott presented a romantic image of Scotland, his writing also dealt with many of the complex social issues of the day. 

“In Rob Roy for example, he writes about the deprived circumstances of Highland society and how that leads to the Jacobite Rising – making clear the link between deprivation and social upheaval, as opposed to any love for the Jacobite cause.

“It’s an interesting analogy because you can ask yourself what motivates someone to become rebellious now, and why people become politically discontented – because you will often find that economic reality lies behind heartfelt political sentiment.

“Scott realised you don’t have to write about the moment you’re living in to write about the issues that are relevant to your own time, and that is why his work endures in the modern age.”

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