**********IMPORTANT OSSIAN CONFERENCE 18-19 APRIL 2015**************
Emma Major reports:
Earlier this month I went to the Highlands to bring a York Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies perspective to the very exciting new interdisciplinary MLitt in British Studies that Kristin Lindfield-Ott (English Literature) and Jim McPherson (History) have developed together with their colleagues archaeologist Simon Clarke and Innes Kennedy from Philosophy.
This brilliant MLitt enables students to explore and interrogate Britishness from the Roman era to now. From Britishness in sport to Britain’s colonial legacies, and from Adam Smith and his legacy to ideas of nation, the MLitt encourages critical thinking about communities and identities. The Highlands setting itself is central here, problematizing the dominant, often English, often metropolitan, accounts of Britishness. My own sense of terms such as ‘north’ and ‘south’ was stretched and eventually inverted as, a southerner by birth and upbringing (England, Barcelona, and south Wales) and Yorkshire resident for almost 20 years, I crossed snowy mountains to reach the most northern point of Britain I’d ever seen, only to find my UHI colleagues travelling south to meet me there. Their explanation of the various locations of the university’s colleges was fascinating, and I left with a much more vivid sense of the patchwork of northern identities that proliferate across the hills and islands of Scotland.
On my visits in January and March I was deeply impressed by the interdisciplinary intellectual community at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Through video-conferencing and email they’ve managed to forge a genial and inspiring network community. Kristin and Jim are kindly continuing to educate me in the ways of twenty-first century sociability and I am now proud to be part of this circle through iMessages and boozy FaceTime conversations – all, of course, of a purely intellectual and interdisciplinary kind. The eighteenth-century writers and philosophers in whom we share research interests would (probably) have approved. When Jim was an invited speaker at a UN conference in New York recently we even fell back on that very eighteenth-century form of communication, the transatlantic epistle.
Kristin’s innovative work on Ossian – her current book project – was the inspiration for the major Ossian conference she is running in April. It’s attracted the attention of the national press and the approval of Alexander McCall Smith… Find out more at https://macphersonsossianiclegacy.wordpress.com/conference-heritage-festival-18th-19th-april-2015/