Greek Poetry – The Diasporic Dimension: Graduate Workshop 7th February 2017

Our next Graduate Workshop will take place on Tuesday 7th February 2017 at 1 pm  in Room G 16 in the William Robertson Wing of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (Doorway 4 of the Old Medical School).

Maria Athanassiou, a third year PhD student at the International Centre for Musical Studies at the University of Newcastle will be speaking on Diasporic Elements and Soft Power in the Modern Greek Poetry set to Music.

Maria’s paper will consider the role of modern Greek poetry set to music, in a cultural and international setting.  What does cultural diplomacy mean? In an age of globalisation, how does modern Greek poetry, set to music, represent “soft power”?

All are most welcome to attend.

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Emigration:  Scotland to Australia 1840-1870.  Was the Effort Really Worthwhile?

liverpoolOn 12th January 2017, the Graduate Workshop welcomed Jennifer McCoy of Federation University, Australia.  Jennifer is a part time first-year PhD student who currently combines research with teaching.  Her doctoral research considers the contribution made by immigrant Scots in the development of Eastern High Country Victoria in the mid to late 19th century. Family history has provided the stimulus for Jennifer’s formal academic research and, in her own words, has led to her asking “so many questions that (have gone) beyond the usual genealogical study of births, marriages, deaths and people connections”.   Her presentation considered the “loose ends” which have inspired her project and the lines of enquiry which they suggest.

At the heart of Jennifer’s research lie the big questions: Where had the Scots come from?  Where did they settle?  Moreover, was their effort worthwhile?  Existing research has tended to focus on the more well known, yet many early Scottish settlers remain strangely “invisible”.  Memorialisation,  gravestones in particular, have provided a useful starting point.  By way of case study, Jennifer considered her own McCoy ancestors. As the 1841 census records reveal, James McCoid (sic) and his wife Charlotte Dowie hailed from Girvan in Ayrshire.  In 1855, they made the perilous five month sea voyage from Liverpool to Hobart before travelling to South East Victoria.  The McCoy family clearly flourished.  In 1932, Mary, the daughter of Charlotte and James, left the considerable sum of £ 45,000 to her local Presbyterian Church.  Her sister Elizabeth ran a successful hotel.  What role then did women play in the settler society?  How did the Presbyterian  Church impact upon their lives?  How was such wealth generated in a comparatively short time?  In the long term, Jennifer anticipates broadening the scope of her research and considering the experiences of other Scottish families in the development of South East Victoria.

A lively discussion followed. The presentation provided a perfect opportunity for Jennifer to meet and exchange ideas with members of our own post graduate community.  We all wish her well with her continuing research.

Alastair Learmont

“Imprest on vellum”: Lowland language and the early American republic, c. 1800-1830.

Sean Murphy from the University of St Andrews spoke to the Diaspora Studies Graduate Workshop on Tuesday 1 November.  Sean has a particular interest in the relationship between the Scots language and British imperialism. He is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford, and will shortly submit his PhD thesis at the University of St Andrews.  We were delighted to welcome back Sean.

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The new circumstances under which we are placed, call for new words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects. An American dialect will therefore be formed.

Thomas Jefferson 16 August 1813

In the early decades of the 19th century, Thomas Jefferson argued that the growing United States of America, a nation of considerable size and cultural diversity, required a language to express all ideas.  Would new words and new phrases “adulterate” the English language?  Had the language of Burns “disfigured” the English language?  Did the Athenians consider the Doric, the Ionian, the Aeolic, and other dialects, as disfiguring or as beautifying their language?”  Jefferson thought the latter. Developing an analogy based on the richness of the Greek language, he argued that a variety of dialects enriched a language. The learned writers of the contemporary Edinburgh Review, who eschewed new words were, in his view, mistaken.

        Sean Murphy used the words of Jefferson as both the introduction and cornerstone of his presentation. Jefferson had expressed the desire to “enlargen our thomas-jeffersonemployment of the English language”.  Moreover, a dignified American dialect was comparable to the Scots of Robert Burns whose writing had been readily available in the young United States of American from the 1790s.  The poetry of Burns, Sean argued, fostered a sense of nostalgia, in emigrant Scots.

          The work of two Scots/Irish poets provide an important insight into the social and diasporic world of Scots/Irish.  David Bruce from Pennsylvania was a first generation emigrant who may have had roots in the north-east of Scotland, possibly in Caithness.  A contemporary of Burns, his poetry expressed the post-colonial political concerns of a Scots/Irish diaspora.  Bruce defended the Scottish Irish community which had been blamed for the so called Pennsylvania “whiskey rebellion of 1794”. Fiercely anti Jacobin, his work reflected an earlier age and showed a Scottish pride in rationality.

    Robert Dinsmore of New Hampshire, was a third generation emigrant Scots/Ulsterman.  If Bruce was a Scottish American, then it might be argued that Dinsmore was an American Scot.  Sean’s readings of Dinsmore’s poetry tended to suggest that the vowel sounds of a third generation Scot might have developed, or, in any event, have been different from the Scots American of Bruce.  Dinsmore looked to the past and made a connection between his ancient Irish ancestors and the tribes of the native American Indians.  He was more of a rustic bard.  Both poets – Bruce in more pastoral vein – were influenced by the poetry of the elder Alan Ramsay, of Gentle Shepherd fame, who was known for his use of the Scottish vernacular two generations before Robert Burns. Nostalgia, perhaps even exoticism, were the hallmarks of these poets.  If the English had crafted Athenian, then the Scots excelled at the Doric.

         A wide-ranging discussion considered the publication and marketing of the poems and the extent to which other diasporic groups may have been represented in contemporary periodicals.

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Please note:

 The Graduate Workshop originally scheduled for Tuesday 15 November, has been cancelled.

Unfortunately, our speaker, Micheal Hopkirk of the University of Dundee, is indisposed.  Michael was due to speak on “Highland Adventurers to the Caribbean: Estimating the Scale of Highland-Caribbean Economic Migration, 1780-1830”

Our next Graduate Workshop will  now take place on Tuesday 29th November (further details below)

                                                                                             Alastair Learmont

Our Autumn 2016 Seminar Series

We’ve now posted our autumn 2016 seminar programme, which you can find on the programme page:

The seminars start on Tuesday, 4th of October in Room G16 in the William Robertson Wing, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Old Medical School, Teviot Place.

Shane Smith (Northumbria University) will speak on:

“Business, farming and ‘jolly good times’: The migration of British and Irish soldiers to the Perth military settlement in Upper Canada 1815-1850.

 

 

Roseanna Doughty on the British media’s portrayal of the IRA

Hello,

The last seminar of this year’s diaspora seminar programme will take place tomorrow (15 March) at 1pm in room G15 of the William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, University of Edinburgh. We are very pleased to welcome Roseanna Doughty who will be speaking on the subject of “Under the gaze of Churchill’: Press Representations of the IRA and the Irish in Britain during the 1970s’.

Please join us – everyone is very welcome.

Aileen Lobban on ‘Dub Poetry – the journey, the roar, and the lesser fury’

Hello,

Today’s graduate diaspora seminar will be Aileen Lobban who will be speaking on ‘Dub Poetry – the journey, the roar, and the lesser fury’. This paper will focus on the transference of cultural memory from the Jamaican dancehalls of the form’s origin to the shores of North America.
We’ll be meeting in G15 (William Robertson Wing, Doorway 4, Old Medical School) at 1pm today – all are welcome.

Spring 2016 Seminar Series

We are very excited to announced the Spring 2016 seminar series:

19th January – Sarah Stewart (Edinburgh, LLC) – ‘Shelter at the Border: Writing Back from the State of Exception’.

2nd February – Mauro di Lullo (Stirling) – ‘The Palestinian Diaspora and Historical Memory’.

16th February – Innovative Learning Week – there is a day long conference for undergraduates being held on the diaspora this day, and postgraduates are invited to speak about their research.

1st March – Aileen Lobban (Stirling) – ‘Dub Poetry – the journey, the roar and the lesser fury’.

15th March – Roseanna Doughty (Edinburgh, HCA) – “Under the gaze of Churchill’: Press Representations of the IRA and the Irish in Britain during the 1970s’.

As always, everyone is very welcome. The seminars convene on Tuesdays at 1pm in Room G15, William Robertson Wing, Doorway 4, Old Medical School, University of Edinburgh.

Catherine Bateson on the Americanisation of Irish musical diaspora

Please join us on Tuesday 1st December at 1pm when Catherine Bateson will be speaking. Catherine, a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, will be speaking on ‘‘Harry Macarthy has come off without a single scar!’ The Americanisation of Irish music cultural diaspora during the American Civil War.’

All are welcome to join us in room G15 in the William Robertson Wing, Doorway 4, Teviot Place, University of Edinburgh.