Skip header navigation

Eighteenth Century Studies

  • About

    The Eighteenth Century Studies group at Stirling was founded in 2017. We are an interdisciplinary community of Eighteenth Century scholars with diverse interests across the Long Eighteenth Century. Our aim is to promote research, publication and education in eighteenth-century studies, especially across the disciplinary boundaries of Literature and History.

  • Writing Group

    The Eighteenth-Century Writing Group

    We have been meeting since 2014. The Eighteenth-Century Writing Group was founded to give us all the opportunity to discuss any work in progress, from first drafts to completed articles. We meet once a month and the Writing Group functions as a group of critical friends who can provide informal peer review on all aspects of our writing.

    Previous topics discussed include:

    Katie Halsey on Jane Austen’s Nineteenth-Century Readers

    Diego Palacios Cerezales on Napoleonic propaganda moves

    Shaun Wallace on runaway slave advertisements in America

    Lorna Clark (Carleton University) on the Burney family’s juvenilia

    Colin Nicolson: 'Reading Friendship: A Case Study in Decoding and Contextualising Correspondence'
    Wed 1 November 2017 - at 1-2pm: Shaun Wallace: Dealing with problems of structure

    Kelsey Jackson Williams: ‘The Origins of Line Engraving in Scotland: Tracing an Art across Borders’

    Miranda Reading (King’s College, London): 'Old Friends and New Allies: Evangelical Networks in the Membership of the Society for the Suppression of Vice'.

    Nicola Martin: ‘The Cultural Paradigms of British Imperialism in the Militarisation of Scotland and North America, c. 1745-75’.

    Katie Halsey: ‘Metaphors of Reading, 1790-1830’

    Julian Bates: the 'Commercialization of Legislation: Power and Politics between the East India Company and the Parliaments of Britain, 1770 - 1795' and Paul Gardiner: 'Contemporary opinion and military discipline during the wars against France, 1793-1815'.

    Sheena Bedborough: 'Scottish MPs at Westminster, 1750-1780 - the introduction and conclusion to a nearly finished PhD'

    Nicola Martin: Literature review for her doctoral project on the British army in the Scottish Highlands and the American colonies in the eighteenth century

    Fiona Duncan: Revising and refining a drafted piece of writing

    Katie Halsey: Early stages of a grant application

    Colin Nicolson: Writing Biography

    Katie Halsey: ‘Jane Austen and the Picturesque’

    Fiona Duncan: Discussion of summary of PhD on Tory identity and ideology, c. 1760-1832 in preparation for viva

    Nicola Martin: 'Army, Assimilation and Empire: the ’45 and British imperialism in North America.'

    Jamie Macpherson: 'John Adams and Eighteenth Century Friendship'

    Maxine Branagh: 'From the Classic to the Vernacular: Languages of Childhood Reading and Education at the Royal High School of Edinburgh in the Long Eighteenth Century'

    Jill Dye: Beginning the PhD – Early stages of writing a PhD on Innerpeffray Library

    James McKean: Thesis proposal: how Gothic ideology in literature and art has come to shape the perception of ruins on the landscape in Britain

    Kelsey Jackson Williams: 'The First Scottish Enlightenment'

    Emma Macleod: ‘Mr Dundas will find strong precedents in the Case’: Border crossings in the English and Scottish state trials, 1793-1794'

    Simon Quinn (PhD student, University of York), 'The British military in the Levantine environment: Representations of landscape, climate and disease, 1798-1801'

    Nicola Martin: Writing a postdoctoral research grant application

  • Current projects

    Katie Halsey and Jill Dye: Innerpeffray Library: Books and Borrowers 1747-1968

    Innerpeffray Library (located in rural Perthshire) is Scotland’s oldest public lending library, established in 1680 by David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie. Books from the library were made available to the local community from at least 1747 (although this may have been as early as 1680) to 1968. Starting from Lord Madertie’s private collection of 400 books, the collection grew through the generations to encompass works of divinity and theology, law, science and natural history, geography and travel, domestic economy and conduct books, periodicals and journals, and, in later years, fiction. Borrowers came from a wide variety of social backgrounds, from local laird to shepherd and schoolchild. In conjunction with the school, also set up by Lord Madertie, the library functioned as part of an important Scottish Enlightenment project described in Lord Madertie’s will as being “for the improvement and education of the population particularly the young students.” The library was also, and continues to be, a site for local, national and international visitors, with Visitors’ Books dating from 1859 to the present day.

    The library owns manuscript ledgers, containing borrowers’ records from 1747 to 1968. These records are unusually full, containing not only details and dates of the books borrowed and returned, but also, in the majority of cases, information about the name, address and occupation and / or social status of the borrowers. These rich records therefore allow for analysis of the reading (or at least borrowing) habits of a cross-section of the local population, including many labouring-class readers and borrowers for whom (as Rose 2001 points out) evidence is not usually available in the historical record.

    The manuscript borrowers’ ledgers of Innerpeffray Library hence provide the starting ground for an investigation into many different areas. From the bare bones of the information contained in the ledgers – the date, the borrower’s name, his/her occupation and address, and the books he/she borrowed – this project will reconstruct the role played by an institution of this sort in the life of its community and the wider world. The long historical range of the ledgers (1747 to 1968) provides a rare opportunity to chart the interactions between borrowers and books over a period of more than two hundred years, while the existence of relatively extensive records of other kinds (Census, Estate, Church) offers the opportunity to link a number of different sources of information together in order to provide the fullest possible picture of the life of this region.

    In particular, the project seeks to answer the following broad research questions:

    • What do the borrowers’ registers of Innerpeffray Library contribute to our knowledge of the history of books and reading?
    • What can Innerpeffray Library tell us about the shifts or continuities in the reading behaviour of communities and individuals over time?
    • How can we map the effects of book borrowing/ reading on the practice of individuals (environmental history), or on their social mobility (social/cultural history), or geographical mobility?
    • What role did rural libraries play in disseminating knowledge?
    • How typical is Innerpeffray? (through comparative analysis of other Scottish/English/Welsh libraries)
    • How does the local relate to the national and international?

    See Jill’s Blog post about beginning work on this project


  • Past projects

    Jill Dye: Leighton Library Borrowers

    This project aims to highlight the continuing history of the Leighton library and its place at the heart of Dunblane life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Originally intended for “poor clergy” of Dunblane, in 1734 its trustees opened use of the library to anyone able to pay a yearly subscription. This project explores the library lives of those users, using local and family history sources in conjunction with the records of their borrowings from the Leighton Library through archives held at the University of Stirling.

    Read Jill’s Blog about this project


    Peter LindfieldLeverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship: Antiquarian by Design: Fakery and the Material Object in Britain 1720–1824

    Notions of heritage — historic artefacts, collections and architectural structures — are governed by assumptions of authenticity. Yet this sense of the ‘past in the present’ is not, and arguably never has been, immune to practices of forgery. This research project examines the urge to produce faked historic artefacts — literature, buildings and interiors — across British arts in both popular and antiquarian circles (1720–1824). Enriching current understandings of literary forgery in the Georgian period by situating them within a broader culture of antiquarian and design-based practice, this interdisciplinary project reveals counterfeiting’s importance to the construction of Britain’s national heritage.


    Colin Nicolson: The Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts

    This is a multi-volume historical documentary edition, now freely available online: Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts (now freely available online)


    Colin Nicolson: Imaginary Friendship in the American Revolution: John Adams and Jonathan Sewall

    This is a microhistory of friendship, due for publication in 2018.

    Imaginary Friendship in the American Revolution: John Adams and Jonathan Sewall


    Emma Macleod: The State Trials of the 1790s

    This project compares the state trials of the 1790s in Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada and America, from the perspective of the state in the age of Enlightenment.


    Emma Macleod: Edition of the Correspondence of James Wodrow and Samuel Kenrick

    This is a collaboration with Dr Anthony Page (University of Tasmania) and Dr Martin Fitzpatrick (University of Aberystwyth) to publish an edition for Oxford University Press of the substantial correspondence (1750-1810) between the Ayrshire Church of Scotland minister, James Wodrow, and the Midlands merchant, Samuel Kenrick, held at the Dr Williams Library in London.


    Kelsey Jackson Williams: The First Scottish Enlightenment

    I am currently writing a book, provisionally titled The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History, which makes a simple but – I hope – radical argument: there was an Early Enlightenment in Scotland from the 1680s through the 1740s and it was very different from the intellectual movement we now call the Scottish Enlightenment.  The one was urban, this was rural.  The one was centred on Edinburgh, this was centred on the north-east of Scotland.  The one was moderate and Presbyterian, this was Jacobite, Episcopalian, and Catholic.  The one was middle class, this was aristocratic.  The one was concerned with the “sciences of man”, this was concerned with the past and its relationship to the present.

    My research has suggested that this half-century of “antiquarian enlightenment” was far more vigorous and widespread than anybody has previously suspected as well as being deeply intertwined with contemporary developments in France, Italy, and the Low Countries.  Yet it seems to have almost completely dropped out of view quite soon afterwards.  The story I’m hoping to tell, then, is two fold: first, what was this intellectual culture?  How did it work?  Who participated in it?  What did it achieve?  And second, why was it forgotten?

    For regular updates on the progress of the project, see my blog.

  • Useful links

    Dr Williams Library:

    Innerpeffray Library:

    Leighton Library:

    Scottish Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities:

    The International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS):

    The British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS):

    The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS):

    The British Society for Romantic Studies (BARS):

    The North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR):

    The Scottish History Network:

    The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP):

    The Reading Experience Database 1450-1945:

    The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, 1791-1845:

    Yale Boswell Editions:

    The Year’s Work in English Studies



Scroll back to the top