Rebus Undone: Contemporary Scotland and Obstinate Obsolescence
This thesis presents an argument for Ian Rankin’s novels as belonging to a mode of fiction – Scottish crime fiction - that meaningfully participates in the representation of Scottishness by examining Rankin’s appropriation of the hard-boiled mode. This study argues that Rankin’s representations of masculinity are in dialogue with the wider social and political concerns of Scotland during its transition through deindustrialisation, devolution and beyond. In short, this thesis discusses the role that traditional and emerging masculinity scripts play in Rankin’s temporal representation of contemporary Scotland and its multiple and evolving narratives. Chapter 1 addresses the implications of the failed 1979 referendum and Margaret Thatcher’s subsequent rise to power on the socio-political landscape of 1980s Scotland. It argues that following these events, Scotland’s cultural narrative was set up in opposition to the far-right ideology of the South of England and the Westminster Man. Chapter 2 discusses Scotland’s evolving cultural and literal landscape in the run up to devolution in 1997. It argues that Rankin reflects the physical and social developments of Edinburgh during the 1990s in his deconstruction of Rebus’s hard-boiled working-class masculinity during the midseries novels. Unpacking the changes in contemporary Scotland and their effects on its social structures, Chapter 3 addresses the ways in which Rankin represents the ageing Scottish male as symbolic of traditional working-class masculinity becoming redundant due to the demands of modern society. By looking at the chronology of Rankin’s narratives, this thesis serves to both outline and examine the ways in which evolving cultural and political landscapes impact on the nation’s personal and collective trajectories. Combined, the three chapters are intended as an analysis of Rankin’s temporal documentation of Scotland’s socio-political transitions in order to address both his contribution to Scottish literature and his commentary on the nature and evolution of Scottish identities.
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