Exquisite clutter: Material culture and the Scottish reinvention of the adventure narrative

Rebekah C Greene, University of Rhode Island


Exquisite Clutter examines the depiction of material culture in adventures written by Scottish authors Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and John Buchan. Throughout, these three authors use depictions of material culture in the adventure novel to begin formulating a critique about the danger of becoming overly comfortable in a culture where commodities are widely available. In these works, objects are a way to examine the complexities of character and to more closely scrutinize a host of personal anxieties about contact with others, changing societal roles, and one’s own place in the world. Considering two of the most important contributions of Calvinism, Calvinistic materialism and interiority, to the formation of Scottish identity in the nineteenth century traces connections between the object, the individual, and the community. Calvinistic materialism highlights the fact that objects can provide comfort and show one’s position in society but can also distract the individual from adequately fulfilling their role in a greater community. Developing the skills of introspective thought, or what I refer to as interiority, becomes crucial for the heroes of adventure as they grapple with the object, what it signifies, and the many anxieties that the object reflects that come into sharper focus during this process.^

Subject Area

English literature

Recommended Citation

Rebekah C Greene, "Exquisite clutter: Material culture and the Scottish reinvention of the adventure narrative" (2016). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10100948.