What we do

Writing Retreat

Our annual Writing Retreat will once again take place at Alexander House by kind permission of the owner, Mrs J. Lewis, on 23-27 May 2022.

New Books by Members

ISECS 2019 in Edinburgh

Some 1,600 dix-huitiemiste scholars descended on Edinburgh in July, for the International Congress on the Enlightenment, held at the University of Edinburgh on the theme of Enlightenment Identities. Five members of our group presented papers. Emma Macleod spoke on the Pitt and Dundas trials, Katie Halsey on new directions in library history, Jill Dye on the records of the Leighton and Innerpeffray Libraries, Maxine Branagh-Miscampbell on the benefits of a case study methodology, with particular reference to the Royal High School of Edinburgh, and Jim Caudle on Boswell, Burns and their clubs.

The full programme can be viewed here: https://www.bsecs.org.uk/isecs/en/programme/

Eighteenth-Century Studies at Stirling also hosted a very successful networking event at the Grainstore restaurant during the ISECS conference, attended by eighteenth-century scholars from across the UK, at which Katie Halsey announced the launch of the centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, described the work of the group, and encouraged applications from PhD students. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Stirling’s Connect Plus funding scheme in making this event possible.

Past Writing Retreats

We have enjoyed two annual Writing Retreats (2017 and 2018) at Alexander House, Perthshire by kind permission of Alexander House’s owner, Mrs Joanna Lewis. 

Members of the group profited from intensive writing time in the beautiful surroundings of Alexander House, and enjoyed sociable evenings cooking, eating and chatting at the end of our intensive writing days. Collectively, each year, we wrote nearly 150,000 words over the course of Writing Retreat – the equivalent of two monographs! We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Graduate Fund in making these Writing Retreats possible.

2019’s Writing Retreat was cancelled due to Covid, though a small core of members put aside the time to work on writing projects individually.

In 2020, we went fully online for our Writing Retreat on MS Teams and Gather. We enjoyed the chance to focus on writing, albeit in a slightly different way, and were grateful to take a little time away from the usual demands of life to work on writing projects. Group sessions on productive writing techniques, such as generative writing and the pomodoro technique were held, and members met on Gather for breaks, lunch and sociability.

Auchinleck House Landmark Trust Futures Study Retreat

We were extremely fortunate to be awarded a free stay in Auchinleck House, former home of James Boswell, Samuel Johnson’s biographer, through the generosity of the Landmark Trust. Mark Towsey of the University of Liverpool and Katie Halsey were awarded a Landmark Trust Futures stay, and 8 students from Stirling and Liverpool enjoyed 4 days at Auchinleck. The programme included masterclasses on library history and the Boswells at Auchinleck, by Mark Towsey and Jim Caudle respectively, a mini-conference at which all students presented papers, a walk to the historic monuments on the property (the medieval castle and the Jacobean ‘Old House’, as well as the ice house and grotto), and stimulating conversation and sociability. Our two Research Centres had for some time been developing close collaborative links in areas of mutual interest, including the history of reading and libraries in the eighteenth century, and the Landmark Futures study break was a fantastic opportunity to take our collaboration to the next stage, bringing together postgraduate students in English, History and Modern Languages from the two institutions to share ideas and perspectives. With its characteristic library room and famous literary associations, Auchinleck House was the ideal environment for this meeting of minds, richly redolent both of the library culture of the Scottish Enlightenment and of the country house sociability that shaped the wider political, social and architectural life of the Georgian period, both above and below stairs. We all benefitted hugely from the experience of living, studying and exchanging ideas in a grand house where Samuel Johnson once recommended the ‘originality of thinking’. Photographs of the event, and details of the Landmark Trust Futures scheme, can be seen here: https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/get-involved/

Textual Editing Symposium

In September of 2018, Emma Macleod and Katie Halsey organised a symposium on Textual Editing, at which 12 scholars presented papers on the theory and practice of textual editing. Planned as the first in a series of such events, we have plans to collaborate with colleagues in London, Glasgow and Leicester next. We are grateful to the University’s Connect Plus funding scheme, and the Divisions of Literature and Languages and History and Politics for the funding to run this event.

ECSSS in Glasgow

Eighteenth-Century Studies at Stirling was represented at the annual conference of the international Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society in Glasgow, 17-21 July 2018, by Dr Katie Halsey, Dr Kelsey Jackson-Williams, and Dr Emma Macleod. They contributed the following papers: Katie Halsey, '"For the Benefit of All": Innerpeffray Library and Networks of Enlightenment'; Kelsey Jackson-Williams, 'The Origins of Engraving in Scotland'; and Emma Macleod, 'The Networks of Enlightenment of Rev. James Wodrow (1730-1810)'.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities sponsored a sampling of Scottish artisan gins on Wednesday evening, 18 July, to promote Eighteenth-Century Studies at Stirling. Many thanks to the Faculty, and to Gin 71 (https://www.gin71.com/) for providing the six samples and knowledgeable staff who talked the conference-goers through the eighteenth-century Scottish gin industry and the modern gins on offer. The event was a great success, well publicised by the conference organisers, and attended by more than half of the conference delegates.

Emma Macleod was elected to the Board of the Eighteenth-Century Studies Society at its business meeting, for 2018-2022.

New Undergraduate Module

In the first collaboration of its kind, five members of the group have put together an interdisciplinary undergraduate module, ARTU9EC: Documenting the Eighteenth Century. We ran this module for the first time in Autumn 2019, and enjoyed introducing our advanced-level English and History undergraduates to textual editing, hand-press printing, and the literature, culture and society of the eighteenth century more broadly. The module was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19 restrictions, but we look forward to running it again in Autumn 2022.