CFP: Scottish Gothic, 1764–Present

Posted by Dale Townshend on February 09, 2009 in News tagged with

Call for papers

Scottish Gothic, 1764–Present: A One-Day Symposium

Department of English Studies, University of Stirling, Scotland.

Saturday 24th October, 2009.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers: Peter Garside (University of Edinburgh) and Angela Wright (University of Sheffield). 

Scottish culture and the Gothic have interacted fruitfully with one another ever since the rise of this literary mode during the late eighteenth century.  Writers and thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment such as David Hume, Adam Smith, Henry Mackenzie, James Thomson and James MacPherson were crucial to the discursive foundations of the Gothic aesthetic, while, during the 1790s and early 1800s, Scottish histories and landscapes, however highly mythologised, served as the setting for numerous Gothic romances written and published throughout the British isles.  In the first few decades of the nineteenth century, Scottish writers such as James Hogg and Walter Scott interacted with, and modified, Gothic conventions in intriguing and innovative ways, and in the latter part of the century, Robert Louis Stevenson would write and publish what has subsequently become an iconic Gothic text of the fin de siècle.   In the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, manifestations of Gothic convention in Scottish literature are no less profound, and contemporary Scottish writers such as Alasdair Gray, Irvine Welsh, Iain Banks and Louise Welsh continue to employ aspects of the Gothic in their work.  But these are only some of the best-known names in a rich tradition of Scottish Gothic that stretches back to the latter half of the eighteenth century. 


The conference aims to bring to light scholarly work on the Gothic in a range of lesser-known, understudied Scottish authors.  To these ends, Norbert Besch of Udolpho Press will provide an informal introduction to the life and works of the Scottish-born Gothic novelist Isabella Kelly, launching two new scholarly editions of her work in the year that marks the two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of her birth. 


Aiming to move beyond a mere consideration of the Gothic in fictions by writers of Scottish nationality, this conference aims also to solicit papers that explore the use of Gothic conventions in texts about Scotland, its histories and its landscapes, irrespective of their particular cultural provenance.  How might the terms ‘Scottish’ and ‘Gothic’ be brought together?  Is ‘Scottish Gothic’ distinctive from other national manifestations of the mode?  What, politically speaking, is at stake in the notion of a ‘Scottish Gothic’?


Possible topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

·        Scotland in/and the romance revival

·        Ann Radcliffe’s Scotland

·        Robert Burns and the Gothic

·        James Hogg, Walter Scott and the Gothic

·        Mary Shelley in/and Scotland

·        Gothic appropriations of Macbeth

·        Scottish Doubles

·        Robert Louis Stevenson

·        Alasdair Gray’s Gothic

·        Contemporary Scottish Gothic: Iain Banks, Louise Welsh, John Burnside,

·        Evolution, Devolution and the Gothic

Please email a 250-word abstract for a 20-minute paper to Dale Townshend by 1 September 2009.



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