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Literature and Languages projects

The Reliquiae Baxterianae Project

Richard Baxter’s 800-page folio Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696) is an unrivalled primary source for early modern historical, ecclesiastical, cultural and literary studies. Its first-hand account of events from the 1620s to the 1680s is both a strikingly original autobiographical work of personal reflection and insight and a powerful apologia in defence of Baxter’s moderate Puritan churchmanship. This project will produce the first fully annotated and reliable scholarly edition of the complete text, enabling Baxter’s first-hand account to take its proper place beside those of such better-known (and better-served) witnesses as Burnet, Clarendon, Evelyn and Pepys. The edition will be published in five volumes by Oxford University Press.

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The Bee Bole

In 2013 Alec Finlay was appointed as Artist in Residence – funded by the Leverhulme Trust – to work collaboratively between Stirling’s Faculties of Natural Sciences and Arts and Humanities to research the subject of apiculture – the science and culture of beekeeping.

He produced a ‘creative survey’ of the UK’s bee population, translating his research into poetry and sculpture and installing permanent artworks on campus, some of which function dually as bee nests. The research considered both the ‘social’ honeybee and ‘solitary’ bees, and wasps, whose numbers are in steep decline despite their crucial role as pollinators. Finlay explored the symbolism of bees in ancient myth and philosophy, and the recurring motif of the bee in accounts of politics, economics and society, as well as contemporary scientific studies of bee communication, cognitive behaviour and honeycomb construction. For the duration of his residency, Alec was hosted by the Division’s Chair in Poetry, Professor Kathleen Jamie.

The Book Unbound

The Book Unbound is an AHRC Digital Transformations research and development project. The model of the traditional publishing value chain traces the trajectory of intellectual property from the author to the end consumer, where publishing activities such as editorial, marketing and design are all performed by the single entity of the publisher. However, this process is now being disrupted and disintermediated at every stage by the intervention of digital technologies and consequent infrastructural changes. The Book Unbound project examines publishing in the digital age, the impact of new technologies and business models, and the processes of disruption and disintermediation in the 21st-century book trade. Collaborating on the project are the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and CommunicationCreative Writing staff at the University of Stirling, Scott Russell Publishing Services, a team of editorial and production assistants, and the Electric Bookshop.

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The Borrower’s Ledger, Innerpeffray Library

Innerpeffray has one of Europe's oldest surviving examples of a library borrowers' register, dating from 1747 to 1968. Local people who visited Innerpeffray are recorded here, often in their own handwriting, and giving their address and occupation, as well as their choice of book. In 2011 Katie Halsey and Claire Squires began a research project with the Library to record and digitise the Borrower's register. Supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Carnegie Trust, the project aims to create a fully searchable Ledger on a dedicated website and to answer a series of research questions aimed at establishing the library’s historic role in the local community.

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CREATES (Consortium for Research into Arts and Technology in Scotland)

CREATES is a multi-university consortium funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), Creative Scotland and the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). It is working with arts and cultural organisations in Scotland funded by the Digital R and D Fund for Arts and Culture in Scotland to understand and test the potential offered by new digital technologies.

The Consortium’s research will support organisations (Publishing Scotland, The Audience Business, The Scottish Documentary Institute, National Theatre Scotland) to work with digital experts to understand and test the potential offered by new technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working. The interdisciplinary team is led by Professor Claire Squires and includes researchers at Stirling from the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Centre for International Publishing and Communication, the Institute of Socio-Management and the Institute for Social Marketing, as well as researchers from the Universities of Strathclyde and St Andrews.

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Devolving Diasporas

Devolving Diasporas was a three-year AHRC project investigating relationships between reading, writing, location and migration. The project team from Newcastle (Jackie Kay, James Procter) and Stirling (Bethan Benwell, Gemma Robinson) explored how book groups and readers across Scotland, England, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, India responded to contemporary narratives of movement, migration and diaspora. This part of the project led to publications on Postcolonial Audiences; Reading After Empire; ethnomethodological approaches; reading, taste and postcolonial studies; not reading Brick Lane; and a monograph, Reading Across Worlds (Palgrave 2014). A further aim of the project was to research and promote the ‘devolution’ of diasporic literature, contextualising London-centred work through a study of poetry across Scotland, Wales and England. The project’s anthology, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), was launched across the country, at Newcastle’s Festival of Belonging, the British Library’s Writing Britain event, the Manchester Literature Festival and the Scottish Poetry Library.

'Out of Bounds'

'Postcolonial Audiences'

'Reading After Empire'

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Interlacing Two Worlds: The Creation of a Colonial Quechua Verbal Art

This study examines the Quechua language of Christianisation which was created by the Catholic Church in 16th century Peru. Funded by an AHRC Fellowship, Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar shows that what had been developed with the objective of unifying Christian Quechua reflects individual methods and varied results rather than a consistent strategy, and thereby contributed to the creation of an ambiguous language of Christianisation. In a second step I analyse how Quechua words and discourses were elaborated by indigenous authors at the beginning of the 17th century. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala and the authors of the Huarochirí texts document their experience with this vocabulary: they integrated it into their own discourse which can be shown to be intentionally multi-interpretable (sermons, prayers and a testimony). In this way and by using discursive traditions from Europe and from the Andes, they created a new genre of indigenous verbal art in the colonial context. The research for this project was published in the monograph: Entrelazando dos mundos: Experimentos y experiencias con el quechua de la cristianización en el Perú colonial (Quito: Abya-yala, 2013).

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James Hogg: Contributions to International Periodicals

The Scottish writer James Hogg (1770-1835) is best known for his haunting novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. In recent years, however, the full extent of his contribution to Scottish literature -- novels, tales, poems, songs, plays, and essays -- has become more widely recognised, in large part due to the Stirling/South Carolina Research Edition of his collected works (S/SC), published by Edinburgh University Press. “James Hogg and International Periodicals” is supported by a large AHRC grant and will investigate Hogg's many contributions to magazines and newspapers around the English-speaking world, from Ireland to North America, Australia, and New Zealand, gathering them for the first time in a single volume, edited by Adrian Hunter. In addition to the critical edition, the AHRC grant will support Dr Gilbert's work as General Editor of the S/SC, fund a full-time PhD studentship, and employ a full-time researcher for three years (Dr Barbara Leonardi).

Meghdoot: Using new technologies to tell age-old stories

Despite the exemplary progress in areas of computing, programming and animation in India, there are still no major game companies or developers creating games that compete on a global level. In order to explore why this might be, and how research might stimulate such growth, the project uses two approaches: (1) data gathering and analysis of game development in India, and (2) practice-based research through the creation of a game.

Dr Padmini Ray Murray was awarded an UnBox fellowship by the British Council in partnership with AHRC and SIN to pursue this research and follow-up funding from the AHRC. The fellowship programme challenges creative practitioners and researchers from various creative industry backgrounds to collaborate on theme-based team projects and to develop innovative and interdisciplinary solutions in the spirit of New Delhi’s UnBox festival.

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The spiritual life of things: materialism and spirituality in the work of Virginia Woolf, Mary Butts, H.D. and Gwendolyn Brooks

While Modernist Studies has been increasingly concerned with material culture, spirituality has also begun to receive attention in this field. What remains under-researched is a feminine spirituality based in the everyday relationships of things, domestic and public space. Until the spiritual qualities of things are explored the spiritual contours of modernism will not be fully understood. Elizabeth Anderson has been awarded a two-year Impact Research Fellowship by the University of Stirling to examine connections between things, spirituality, domestic and public space in the work of four modernist women writers: Virginia Woolf, Mary Butts, H.D. and Gwendolyn Brooks. By considering how spirituality and the material intersect in these woman writers the project will impact on modernist studies by contributing a new understanding of spirituality in modernism. This project will contribute to larger cultural and political debates regarding our relation to material things and spirituality and is supported by the Carnegie Trust.

Women Poets, Self-Fashioning and Photography, 1880-1930

Image of Edith Nesbit

The advent of photography as a means of self-representation and promotion brought about major changes in women poets’ constructions of poetic identity. Photography had the potential to transform the woman poet’s image in the public imagination. Sarah Parker has been awarded a two-year Impact Research Fellowship by the University of Stirling to examine, for the first time, the complex relationship between photography, poetry, poetic identity and gender during the fin de siècle and early twentieth century. Focussing on the role of photography in shaping female poetic identity during the period 1880-1930, Parker asks: how did the visual representation of women poets change in the age of mechanical reproduction? How does this affect constructions of authorship and poetic identity? How did women poets use photography to promote themselves and their work during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?

Manuscripts, miscellanies and the organisation of knowledge

A striking aspect of early modern culture was the importance afforded to the miscellany. Both manuscript and printed miscellanies were central to literary and intellectual culture, and the miscellaneous was also increasingly regarded as an important means of organisation. In 2013 Dr Angus Vine was awarded a two-year British Academy/Leverhulme small research grant to explore both these things. The project will examine a series of neglected English manuscript miscellanies from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a variety of archives in the UK and North America. Material studied will include notebooks, recipe books and memoranda books and accounts. Combining archival study with research into early modern theories of knowledge and the works of major literary and philosophical figures, such as Francis Bacon and Erasmus, the project will ask what did the miscellaneous mean for the organisation of knowledge in the early modern period and why was it so important. In asking these questions, the project has profound implications for our understanding not only of early modern manuscript culture, but also of early modern epistemology, and will offer a new perspective on early modern life and thought.

Struggles that Unite Us All: The Life and Work of Lamine Senghor

British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (Jan-Dec 2012)

Professor David Murphy

This project examined the life and writings of the unjustly neglected figure of Lamine Senghor, a man whose career as an activist spanned communism, anti- colonialism and pan-Africanism. Senghor was a former colonial soldier from Senegal who fought for France in the First World War, and who subsequently became a communist and anti-colonial activist until his early death in 1927. He and his fellow activists sought to give shape to new forms of global solidarity, and their radicalism acts as an intriguing early twentieth-century illustration of the excitement and potential but also the limitations of attempts at building transnational solidarities in the 1920s, as activists harnessed the class-based struggle of the socialist/communist internationals and attempted to wed it to a global front against colonial oppression. In our own increasingly interconnected world in which activists constantly seek to find new ways to marry local and global concerns, it is salutary to explore how radical movements in the early twentieth century sought to address similar issues.


Lamine Senghor, La Violation d’un pays et autres écrits anticolonialistes, ed. with an introduction by David Murphy (Paris: L’Harmattan, ‘Autrement Mêmes’, vol. 83, 2012).

‘Love, Trauma and War: the tirailleurs sénégalais and sexual-racial politics in 1920s France’, Irish Journal of French Studies, 13 (2013): 111-28.

‘“Defending the Negro Race”: Lamine Senghor and Black Internationalism in Interwar France’, French Cultural Studies, 24.2 (2013): 61-73. Special issue: ‘Racial Advocacy in France’, ed. by Dominic Thomas.

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