Reviving Ossian's Female Corpses: Mourners and Warriors in the Poems of Ossian

Juliet Shields*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


James Macpherson's Ossian appealed strongly to eighteenth-century female readers, writers and artists, but women constitute a kind of vanishing point in recent feminist readings of the poems. This essay aims to rectify this oversight by examining two of the poems' most prominent female figures: The warrior and the mourner. In both roles Ossian's women participate in a long tradition of feminised representations of the nation. Many female warriors seek death in battle, and female mourners often kill themselves as a means of extinguishing their insufferable grief. Both mourners and warriors lead us back to the figure of the female corpse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this