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Inspiring Views from «a' the airts» on Scottish Literatures, Art and Cinema

The First World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Glasgow 2014


Edited By Klaus Peter Müller, Ilka Schwittlinsky and Ron Walker

Where do Scottish literatures, art, and cinema stand today? What and how do Scottish Studies investigate? Creative writers and scholars give answers to these questions and address vital concerns in Scottish, British, and European history from the Union debate and the Enlightenment to Brexit, ethnic questions, and Scottish film. They present new insights on James Macpherson, Robert Burns, John Galt, J. M. Barrie, Walter Scott, James Robertson, war poetry, new Scottish writing, and nature writing. The contributions highlight old and new networking and media as well as the persistent influences of the past on the present, analyzing a wide range of texts, media and art forms with approaches from literary, cultural, media, theatre, history, political, and philosophical studies.

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Early Cinema in Scotland: Film and Literature (John Caughie)


John Caughie (Glasgow)

Early Cinema in Scotland: Film and Literature

Abstract: An account of the representation of Scotland in early cinema from 1896 to 1927, tracing the significance of literary tours, popular songs, novels and plays for securing a place in the international imaginary. It notes the popularity of Scottish literature and romance in cinema while noting, at the same time, the absence of an indigenous and sustainable feature film industry that could exploit this popularity. The article is informed by a reading of trade press accounts of films, most of which no longer exist as preserved prints.

In his collection of essays, Distant Reading, Franco Moretti poses the problem for the historian of world literature:

Knowing two hundred novels is already difficult. Twenty thousand? How can we do it, what does “knowledge” mean in this new scenario? One thing for sure: it cannot mean the very close reading of very few texts. […] A larger literary history requires other skills: sampling; statistics; work with series, titles, concordances, incipits […]. (Moretti 2013, 67)

For Moretti (described by John Sutherland on the book’s cover as “A great iconoclast of literary criticism”), “the trouble with close reading (in all its incarnations, from the new criticism to deconstruction) is that it necessarily depends on an extremely small canon” (Moretti 2013, 48). The solution that he proposes is ‘distant reading’ where distance is “a condition of knowledge”: learning how not to read the 0.5 per cent...

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