How British is Scotland? Romancing the Union

How British is Scotland? Romancing the Union

Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies
Date: Tuesday 14 January 2014
Time: 17:30 - 18:30
Venue: Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre
Category: Public lectures
Speaker: Catriona Macdonald

Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies

Ionad Eòlas na h-Alba is na Ceiltis

How British is Scotland?

a series of public lectures by members of the Centre addressing a key issue for the Independence Referendum from different disciplinary perspectives

Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre (Boyd Orr Lecture Theatre 1 from 29 April) at 5.30pm

14 January

Catriona Macdonald, Reader in Late Modern Scottish History

‘How British is Scotland? Romancing the Union’

How have historians shaped our history? By examining how the literary roots of Scottish history were neglected in the Edwardian period as scholars sought more scientific approaches, this lecture takes issue with neat generalisations about Jacobitism and Whiggism. Looking at the historical works of Andrew Lang (1844-1912) this lecture argues that there has always been space for the Union in a Romantic rendering of the Scottish past.

4 February

Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature

‘How British is Scotland? Anglification and the Arts of Resistance’

On 9 November 2013, the RSNO performed Vaughan Williams’s 5th Symphony at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, preceded by a talk about the composer and the work; the following evening, at St John’s Kirk in Edinburgh, a Remembrance Day service included a performance of the cantata Dona Nobis Pacem by Ronald Center, a Scottish composer whose work is not commercially available and almost unknown. Beginning with these two events, this talk will consider various ways in which Scotland’s public understanding of its own culture might address the question of being ‘British’ and explore the idea that Vaughan Williams and Ronald Center in music, Hugh MacDiarmid in literature, and William McTaggart and J.D. Fergusson in the visual arts, were all fighting for the same thing, in their ‘arts of resistence’.

25 February

Dauvit Broun, Professor of Scottish History

‘How British is Scotland? Britain and Scottish Independence in the Middle Ages’

Scotland’s identification with Britain has deeper roots than the union of the crowns in 1603, It can be seen as a constant element in the Scottish kingdom’s identity from early medieval times, an element that can still be recognised after the Wars of Independence. And yet Scotland was, in the same period, a self-governing and latterly a sovereign kingdom. This has the potential to offer a new perspective on the relationship between Scottish independence and Britishness.

18 March

Lynn Abrams, Professor of Gender History

‘How British is Scotland? A Gendered Perspective’

Are women more equal with men north or south of the border? How enduring are the myths of the 'wee hard man' and 'Grannie's Heilan' Hame'? What difference does place of residence make to a woman's likelihood of making the board room or suffering domestic violence? Are expressions of feminist and workers' unity more powerful than national differences? This lecture will examine the legacy of divergent legal, education and religious systems on popular attitudes and personal experiences of men and women and ponder the question of whether gender roles have a national character.

8 April

Bill Sweeney, Professor of Music

‘How British is Scotland? Harmonic Fantasy or Unresolved Dissonance?'

In the 1960s, the 2nd Viennese school were my escape committee from the Sunday afternoon prison camp of Scottish Home Service accordions.  The household gods of the pop musicians were the wise old deities of the Mississippi delta.  We marched proudly off into cultural exile, only to find ourselves, decades later, back in our cells with the same paradox: Is being Scottish all about rejecting “Scottishness”?  And is British-ness just the territory we vaulted over on our way to emancipation?

29 April

Ewan Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, & Stephen Driscoll, Professor of Historical Archaeology

‘How British is Scotland? Archaeological Origins of Scotland’

Archaeology has been used, and more often, misused, to try to create or support very different views of Scottish identity. This lecture will look at how archaeologists have approached the question of identity in Scotland from two perspectives. One is a cultural history tradition that seeks to map culture through the distribution of sites and artefacts, which has its roots in 19th-century antiquarian studies. The other is a more specific consideration of the archaeological understanding of identities in early medieval Scotland.

20 May

Thomas Owen Clancy, Professor of Celtic

‘How British is Scotland: Celtic Perspectives on Multiculturism’

This lecture takes its cue from Bede's famous description of Britain in AD731 as containing "four nations and five languages" (Britons, Picts, Gaels and English, with the fifth language Latin). For Britain, read Scotland, as the lands within the modern borders of Scotland contained in the 8th century the same constellation of peoples and languages. The project of Scotland, unlike the project of England, then, was from its earliest roots one of cultural encounter and negotiation, of rule over and on behalf of peoples of more than one tongue and culture. Within Scotland's borders, in the early middle ages, are to be found versions of the languages of all four of the nations of the modern United Kingdom, and literature tied to them. This lecture will meditate on what the inheritance of that early multiculturalism means, or could mean, for Scottish and British identity; and what its loss might mean for "Britain without Scotland".

10 June

Murray Pittock, Bradley Professor of English Literature; Vice-Principal and Head of College of Arts

‘Flying the Flag for the Union ? Scotland 2014: Yes or No, What Happens Next ?’

‘Flying the Flag for the Union ? Scotland 2014: Yes or No, What Happens Next ?¹ looks at the changing nature of the inheritance of Britishness and the gaps between how Britain represents itself in cultural memory and the media as a unitary state and the claims of competing national memories within the UK. The lecture finishes with a look forward into the future, and the world beyond 2014, whether the vote is yes or no.

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