Call for papers

Writing and imaging 21st-century Scotland:

dialogues across spaces and forms

An international conference organized jointly by The University of Aix-Marseille, the University of Western Brittany and the University of Stirling

AMU, Aix-en-Provence, June 14-15, 2018

Keynote Speakers:

Dr Eleanor Bell (University of Strathclyde), “The Quest for Truth in Fiction”

Kevin MacNeil (University of Stirling), “Misty Islands and Hidden Bridges: Scottish Literature (Un)Revealed”

Dr Carla Sassi (University of Verona), “Settling and unsettling memories: the changing boundaries of Scottish literature”.


Pr. Marie-Odile Pittin-Hédon (Aix-Marseille Université)

Dr. Scott Hames (University of Stirling)

Dr. Camille Manfredi (Université de Bretagne Occidentale)

Call for Papers

This international conference aims to examine cultural diversity and prolixity in twenty-first century Scotland, as well as its changed relations to the UK and Europe in the wake of the Brexit referendum. If writers in the 1990s placed Scotland on the map, the new millennium ushered in a variety of works of fiction that contributed to the expansion of that map and to an integration of notions that shift the focus from the national to that of an examination of Scotland in a context that foregrounds the post-national and the cosmopolitan. In Scotland in Theory, Gavin Miller and Eleanor Bell describe the contemporary period as a ‘post-national age’. Bell, starting from the theoretical thinking of Richard Kearney, contends that a European identity is developing because of the way power is restructured at a European level, with the emergence of countries as super-nation-states, which are gradually prevailing over nation states. ‘This focus on the postnational’, she argues, ‘encourages a re-thinking of the traditional concept of ‘Scotland’’ (2005: 84). In Literature as Intervention, Jürgen Neubauer, opposing those he calls ‘the nationalist critics’, argues that the concept of national identity itself is problematic, as is the link established by critics between literature and national identity. He borrows instead Habermas’ concept of the ‘postnational constellation’ to show that with the collapse of national boundaries, there has been in European countries a move which he describes as transnational as well as local. This analysis, Neubauer insists, applies to both macro-economic issues and to culture and the arts: ‘Scottish writers are beginning to imagine life in postnational constellations in which interactions and relationships are both more local and more global than the nation’ (1999: 12). Berthold Schoene resorts to the concept of cosmopolitanism to describe this shift in recent Scottish literature:

Cosmopolitanism repudiates reductions of ‘society’ and ‘the public’ to what inhabits or evolves within a neatly staked-out homogeneous realm. […] In fact, cosmopolitanism’s greatest strength lies in defusing the undesirable side-effects of globalisation by working to deconstruct neo-imperial hegemonies, champion transnational partnership, and project the world as a network of interdependencies. (Schoene 2008: 75-6)

This concept of a post-national identity, and therefore of a – possibly problematic – post-national literature raises the issue of the interconnections of art, ideology and politics, which are precisely the crossroads the Scottish novel is standing at. Ian Brown and Colin Nicholson phrase this peculiar situation in terms of Scottish literature’s ability precisely to cross borders, rather than reinforce or retrace them:

As the ‘United’ Kingdom’s nature is questioned, so writers who cross genre, language and art-form boundaries reflect that enquiry. Interrogating artistic borders, they interrogate the national idea. (Brown, 2007: 263)

The conference will therefore welcome papers that focus on the interrogation of borders and of the national sentiment in twenty-first-century Scottish literature both before and after Brexit, and on the various ways that writers “reconfigure the possible” (Brown, 2007, 261) in a key period of their political and cultural history. Questions might be raised as to the dynamic of contemporary Scottish cultural politics and the way literary nationalism is being overtaken by the mass-movement politics of independence; both ‘taking it over’ in the sense of determining the political/social frames in which literary criticism operates, thus rendering key paradigms redundant, and ‘overtaking’ in the sense of surpassing and leaving behind. We will also seek to assess the extent to which the new media and new art forms that are currently occupying Scotland’s creative space contribute to the remapping of Scotland’s artistic as well as political borders.

Participants will for instance address the following issues:

-        Globalization vs regionalism in post-Brexit, pre-Indyref2 Scotland

-        Scottish literature in times of change: Scottish-British-European relations and their impact on the literary production

-        Scottish cultural / “poetic” politics: literature and the 2014 referendum experience

-        Post-nationalism and the global imaginary

-        Scottish literature, border-crossers and cosmopolitanism

-        Multiculturalism, plurilingualism (English, Scots, Gaelic…), multimediality and literary polyphony in 21st-century Scottish literature

-        Change, permanence and transmission in 21st-century Scottish literature

-        intermedial approaches to C21 Scotland in literature and other media: graphic novels, photo-textual apparatuses, literature and the Internet, etc

Deadline for submission: January 31 2018

Please send a 300-word abstract (for a 20-minute presentation) with a short biography to the three convenors Marie-Odile Pittin-Hedon (, Camille Manfredi ( and Scott Hames ( by January 31.

Notification of acceptance: February 28.


Bell, Eleanor, and Gavin Miller (eds.). 2005. Scotland in Theory: Reflections on Culture and Literature (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi)

Gifford, Douglas. 2007. ‘Breaking Boundaries: From Modern to Contemporary in Scottish Fiction’, The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, Vol III: Modern Transformations, New Identities (from 1918), ed. by Ian Brown (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp. 237-52

Neubauer, Jürgen. 1999.  Literature as Intervention: Struggles over Cultural Identity in Contemporary Scottish Fiction (Marburg: Textum Verlag)

Schoene, Berthold. 2008. ‘Cosmopolitan Scots’, The Scottish Studies Review, 9, 2, Autumn, pp. 71−92

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