Scottish Studies Centre
The Scottish Studies International series has just released a new book (vol. 41), edited by three members of the English Department in Germersheim: Klaus Peter Müller, Ilka Schwittlinsky and Ron Walker, Inspiring Views from "a' the airts" on Scottish Literatures, Art & Cinema. The First World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Glasgow 2014, Frankfurt: Lang 2017. The book raises significant questions, such as where do Scottish literatures, art, and cinema stand today? What and how do Scottish Studies investigate? Creative writers and scholars give answers to these questions and address vital concerns in Scottish, British, and European history from the Union debate and the Enlightenment to Brexit, ethnic questions, and Scottish film. They present new insights on James Macpherson, Robert Burns, John Galt, J. M. Barrie, Walter Scott, James Robertson, war poetry, new Scottish writing, and nature writing. The contributions highlight old and new networking and media as well as the persistent influences of the past on the present, analyzing a wide range of texts, media and art forms with approaches from literary, cultural, media, theatre, history, political, and philosophical studies.
Exemplary results of the conference on the 2014 independence referendum are available in:
- Müller (ed.), Scotland 2014 and Beyond – Coming of Age and Loss of Innocence?, Frankfurt: Lang 2015 (Scottish Studies International 39)
- For more information see Scottish Studies International and http://www.fb06.uni-mainz.de/englisch/437.php
The number of Scottish Studies Centres around the world has hardly increased since then. There are only four new ones, three of them created in Canada at the universities of Guelph and Victoria as well as at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Vancouver. The fourth one is the 'Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies' at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. As the Canadian centres have a strong emphasis on the traditional and historic links between Canada and Scotland due to immigration, the centres in France (where Grenoble has now been replaced by Tours), Dunedin, and Germersheim are still unique in their 'neutral' outsiders' perspective on Scotland. Our website with the most important links for Scottish Studies gives you information on these existing centres and on eleven kinds of sources relevant for Scottish Studies research:
1) Associations, Institutions, Societies;
5) Language & Learning;
6) Literature & Publishing;
7) Governments, Museums & Factual Information;
8) Information on the Scottish (SNP) governments from 2007 till today;
9) Charities, Social, and Environmental Organisations,
10) Civic Society & Cybernet Scotland,
11) Further Useful Links & Sources.
Scottish Studies formerly had a focus on literature, and as Scotland has a very rich sophisticated as well as popular literature, this still is a strong part of the teaching and research in Germersheim and at the Centre. The focus of the Centre has, however, been expanded in order to include all areas of cultural studies. A recent conference here, e.g., dealt with 'Scotland's Cultural Standing and Identity', investigating the different ways in which Scotland has been represented and defined itself in various media. Next to literary experts there were talks by cultural critics and representatives of Scottish museums. (http://www.fask.uni-mainz.de/inst/iaa/scotland.html) The publication of that conference will come out early next year.
The third area to which the Centre pays particular attention is that of the (new) media. Film and television are investigated as extremely significant media for the creation of everybody's understanding of Scotland. The same is, of course, true for the computer, the world wide web, and the converging media. Research and teaching at the Centre and in our classes at Faculty 06 of Mainz University has been taking account of the strong links between media and people's awareness of their own as well as foreign cultures. The topics dealt with at the 2010 conference here on 'British Film 2000 – 2010: Crossing Borders, Transferring Cultures' give ample proof of this. (http://www.fask.uni-mainz.de/inst/iaa/tagung/) Even though it seems banal to say that one needs media in order to understand a culture, as this is so evidently true, there is nevertheless little precise knowledge available about how exactly the (new) media work, which medium is the most important one, and where the concepts and mental schemata come from that we use when we talk about Scotland (or anything else). In these and several other contexts, the Scottish Studies Centre is strongly connected with the special Research Unit 'Media Convergence' of Mainz University. (http://www.medienkonvergenz.uni-mainz.de/en/)
Translation is the fourth area dealt with in the Centre. It is always a topic in classes in Germersheim, it was prominently discussed at the two conferences mentioned, and we, e.g., have had cooperations with people working at the University of Glasgow on the journal Translation and Literature. The focus here is on historical and contemporary translation of Scottish works into German (and the other way round, i.e. into English), the history and theory of literary translation, adaptation, and imitation as well as all problems connected with translating the newer media, esp. film, television, and converging media.
Teaching and research are thus intricately connected at this Centre. In addition to the permanent influx of research interests and results into our classes in Germersheim, the Scottish Studies Newsletter has in its new form a section called Education Scotland, which gives information on and discusses important issues connected with education, which is quite evidently a key topic today with enormous potential for improvement.
Scottish Studies Newsletter 46 (March 2016) is available here and a visible part of the Scottish Studies Centre. It passes on information on all areas investigated in Scottish Studies, such as art, cultural studies, ecology, economics, film, food, geography, history, language, literature, media studies, medicine, philosophy, politics, religion, social studies. These are in fact the topics dealt with in the new publications section of the Spring 2014 issue. Education evidently still needs to be added to this list. For its enormous relevance and the vast context in which it is and will continue to be discussed, see the section 'Education Scotland' in the Newsletter.
The Scottish Studies Centre holds a specifically topical collection of books, documentary and reference material especially accessible to researchers and students. It is connected to the German inter-library loan system. As a university institution, the Centre offers courses for undergraduates and graduates and supports research on post-graduate (Ph.D.) and post-doctoral levels.
Since 1983, the Scottish Studies Centre has had a varied and energetic publishing programme entitled Scottish Studies International, which presently amounts to 41 volumes with more on the way. These publications, most of which by writers whose origins lie outside Scotland, reveal thematic breadth as well as the concern to bring the Scottish experience into the context of the wider European framework of literature and ideas. This European dimension was part of the initial ideology behind the Centre, the wish to bring the Scottish experience into the wider field of European thinking, artistic creation, and political activity.
Scottish Studies in this sense want not only to explore the unique aspects of an individual culture, but to relate the Scottish experience to other regions of Europe. Outsiders can bring new insights and new interpretations to the familiar as well as help create cultural links for the future. Scots are not really, not always, and certainly not everywhere outsiders, but they may indeed in many ways provide the perspective Robert Burns has so famously pleaded for, a perspective the Scottish Studies Centre definitely tries to emphasise:
to see oursels as ithers see us.
(Robert Burns, 'To A Louse', 1786)
Latest Update 22 February, 2017