About the project

Georgian Glasgow is an AHRC-funded collaborative project between the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Life. As the representative postgraduate student of this project, I am involved in writing an English Literature PhD thesis on ‘Georgian Glasgow’ while working with curators from Glasgow Life on the major exhibition How Glasgow Flourished.

Throughout this process, my own research on the history, literature, and cultural memory of Glasgow from 1714-1837 has been complemented by the extensive holdings across Glasgow’s various museums. By combining traditional doctoral research with practical interdisciplinary work environments, I hope to offer a renewed perspective of Glasgow in the Georgian era.

From its novelists and poets to its scientists and manufacturers, Georgian Glasgow was an immensely diverse and enlightened place: full of continuities and contradictions. The history of the University of Glasgow is a vital aspect of this story. Originally located on the High Street, north of the Trongate area, this meant that professors could mingle with merchants and artisans.

What seems most fascinating to me is that so many of Glasgow’s most prominent men and women from the Georgian era are so poorly remembered. Besides amalgamating their lives and works together in my thesis, I have been able to represent them anew by making use of the objects held by the city’s museums. The provenance, collection, and display of such items have aided my understanding of why certain people and ideas have fallen by the wayside in the public imagination. This kind of study helps the formation of cultural memory; that is the ability to interpret not just the person or idea in question, but also their/its survival.

It seems increasingly clear that Glasgow remains a Victorian-built city in both a national and international context. It was during the Victorian era that the city grew most dramatically. It was also during the Victorian era that Glasgow became known as the ‘Second City of the Empire,’ or, just as often, the ‘workhouse of the Empire.’ The legacy of this Glasgow, I believe, has overshadowed the legacy of Georgian Glasgow so completely that the concepts particular to this time period (none greater than the Scottish Enlightenment) have been impaired.

As well as promoting the events and partnerships associated with this project, I hope that these webpages begin to offer some exposure to the forgotten ideas and people from Georgian Glasgow.

Craig Lamont