Scottish Cultural and Political Magazines
Scottish International, Cencrastus, MsPrint, Radical Scotland: these magazines had a much larger impact than their modest circulation figures would suggest. With several other Scottish political and cultural reviews of the 1960s-90s, they were the laboratory in which new ideas, priorities, and alliances were forged in a period of sweeping change.
Working with a number of colleagues and the National Library of Scotland, I’m developing a major cross-disciplinary project on the small-circulation Scottish periodicals that significantly shaped the cultural politics of devolution. The multiple strands of this project include an edited anthology, a research network and an impact and digitisation project. For the latest, see @ScotMagsNet.
The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation
This book is a cultural history and political critique of Scottish devolution (forthcoming in 2019; Edinburgh University Press). Considering a range of archival materials and critical theories, it explores how questions of ‘voice’, language and identity featured in debates leading to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Tracing both the ‘dream’ of cultural empowerment and the ‘grind’ of electoral strategy, it reconstructs the influence of magazines such as Scottish International, Radical Scotland, Cencrastus and Edinburgh Review, and sets the fiction of William McIlvanney, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, A.L. Kennedy and James Robertson within a radically altered picture of devolved Scotland.
James Kelman Monograph
My current monograph project is on James Kelman, with a focus on the lyric and ‘actional’ dimension of language in his fiction.
Building on earlier explorations of autonomous and non-representative language (‘art-speech’), it will focus on dramatic and forceful qualities of silence and ‘inner speech’ (Vološinov) in Kelman’s fiction, and connect them to aspects of his ethical and aesthetic project aligned with the Romantic tradition. The freedoms (and resistance) of stylised language both clarify and complicate his literary politics, inviting us to rethink Kelman’s realism and his complex engagement with modernism.