A one-day conference on Hugh MacDiarmid and Scottish Modernism, 1900-1930 is to be held at Edinburgh University on 11th August 2017.
About the conference
Walt Whitman’s 1855 preface to Leaves of Grass begins with the claim that “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” Whitman was attempting to articulate his belief in a uniquely American verse in a way which directly chimes with the ambitions of Hugh MacDiarmid, whose own efforts to revive (and in some senses create) a vibrant literary community in Scotland relied to a large extent on his individual conceptions of nationhood and its inextricable links to literary achievement.
MacDiarmid’s own absorption of Scotland could only loosely be described as affectionate. Never falling shy of controversy, MacDiarmid’s career from start to finish is typified by a desire to rock the boats of convention. This conference, which belatedly marks the 90th anniversary of ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’, seeks in turn to revivify the field of MacDiarmid scholarship. We welcome papers which focus on any and all aspect of his career – which spanned multiple genres and forms of writing. We are especially eager to hear papers which seek to situate MacDiarmid in unusual contexts, or explore his influence – which, if nothing else, is ripe for contestation in today’s Scotland, with the independence referendum of 2014 still fresh in the memory. First and foremost, we would like to spark up the conversation about the man and his historical context which we feel is (at the present moment) much too quiet for a writer of his stature. Furthermore, we encourage submissions which take other Scottish writers of this period as their subject; was there an identifiably ‘Scottish’ modernism? And, if so, how did it manifest itself?
This conference will take place at Edinburgh University on August 11th 2017. Please send proposals for 20-minute papers for consideration to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday the 9th of June.