English and Scottish Literature

Past events

Selected seminars, conferences, lectures, film screenings, exhibitions, and workshops in English and Scottish Literature (2015 -).

English Literature Seminar Series

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Each semester, English and Scottish Literature welcomes a fantastic range of guest speakers and colleagues to present a seminar on their research.

Please note that speaker titles and universities, as listed, date from the time of the event and may have changed.

Author Conversations

Pale yellow graphic. Text says: Author Conversations. A Reading Series. Presented by the University of Edinburgh Writer in Residence 2021 to 2022

This event series is programmed by the University's current Writer in Residence Ryan Van Winkle and features readings, Q&As and conversations with the best and brightest writers around.

Previous guests include Alycia Pirmohamed, Lauren Pope, Fiona Mozley and J O Morgan.

Lectures and talks

The Susan Manning Memorial Lecture

Professor Susan Manning was Grierson Professor of English Literature and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh until her unexpected death in 2013.

This annual lecture commemorates Susan as an internationally renowned academic with wide interests, particularly in Transatlanticism, and as an inspiring influence for an international coterie of scholars in the humanities.

Occasionally, the Lecture has been held as part of a wider event, such as Edinburgh Spy Week in 2019 and Muriel Spark 100 in 2018.

Speaker Date Venue Theme
Professor Anahid Nersessian (University of California) 24 March 2023 50 George Square

House on Fire: On the Unfinished Business of Romanticism

Professor Caroline Levine (Cornell University) 6 May 2022

50 George Square

Plots of Precarity and Sustainable Endings

Professor Laura Marcus (New College, University of Oxford) 21 May 2021 Online (Zoom) 'The Noise of Time': Autobiography and History in the 1930s
Professor Adam Piette (University of Sheffield) 5 April 2019 50 George Square The Revolutionary Double Agent and Cold War Citizenship

Janice Galloway

6 April 2018

50 George Square 'There’s something a bit harsh about you, Fleur’: Muriel Spark and her voices
Professor Caryl Phillips (Yale University) 24 March 2017 50 George Square A Sense of Home

Professor David Bromwich (Yale University)

18 March 2016 50 George Square

‘The Single State of Man’ and Killing Caesar and Duncan

Professor Hermione Lee (University of Oxford) 20 February 2015 50 George Square Character in Biography: “The Most Really Interesting Problem”
Professor Maureen McLane (New York University) 21 February 2014 St Cecilia's Hall Toward a Compositionist Poetics: From Ballad Rhizomatics to the Mesh

Inaugural Lectures

Inaugural Lectures are free public talks by recently-appointed Professors and Chairs at the University of Edinburgh where they share their work with a wide audience, inviting reflection and discussion on its broader implications.

Speaker Date Venue Theme
Professor Michelle Keown (Professor of Pacific and Postcolonial Literature) 26 April 2023 Lecture Theatre G.03, 50 George Square ‘A Story of a People On Fire’: exploring the legacies of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands through literature and visual culture
Professor David Farrier (Professor of Literature and the Environment) 29 March 2023 Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre Nabokov’s Butterfly, Kafka’s Leopards: what nature can teach us about life on a human planet
Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier (Personal Chair in United States and Atlantic Studies) 5 October 2018 Playfair Library Suffering, Struggle, Survival: 200 Years of African Atlantic Art and Authorship (1818-2018)

More lectures and talks

A green informative banner featuring the image of a wind turbine in a forest

Date: 31 May 2023

Venue: Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, University of Edinburgh

Speakers: Alec Finlay (poet and artist), Yulia Kovanova (artist and filmmaker), Patrick James Errington (poet, translator, and researcher), Jessica Gaitán Johannesson (writer and climate justice activist) and Martin Schauss (University of Edinburgh)

In brief: Part of the Green Tease programme, this event invited a discussion on the importance of innovative and experimental environmental storytelling. It explored how we might use ecopoetics to cultivate everyday resilience in the face of climate crisis.

It was created in collaboration between Martin Schauss, a researcher in literature and ecology at the University of Edinburgh and Creative Carbon Scotland, and was a part of the Green Tease programme that promoted how the arts and culture can transform society in response to climate change.

 Conferences and symposia

A banner with an image of red-stained cloth in a small stream

Dates: 26 to 27 July 2023

Venue: Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Organisers: British Academy and Wellcome Trust Conferences

In brief: A two-day, in-person conference that brought together scholars and practitioners working across disciplines and employing creative and/or critical modes of enquiry to explore questions of gender, colonialism and environment. 

The conference featured a series of original artworks by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona and Caitlin Stobie, produced in response to the themes and setting of the event, as well as a tour of the exhibition Shipping Roots by Keg De Sousa, which was led by the exhibition curator Emma Nicolson.

Find out more about the conference

Film screenings and festivals

Spy Week

Close up of an eye

A public series of events, including talks, discussion panels, film screenings, author Q&As and workshops, focusing on espionage fiction and film and the ways in which secrecy and spying run through our history and culture. First held in 2014, Spy Week aims to bring together creative practitioners and academic researchers to talk about books and ideas in public and accessible ways.

The Spy Week team is based in English Literature in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) at the University of Edinburgh and works with other Schools and cultural bodies in Edinburgh to bring the very best contemporary spy writers to Edinburgh.

Please note that speaker titles and universities, as listed, date from the time of the event and may have changed.

Dates Venue(s) Speakers and discussants
5 to 12 April 2019 50 George Square; Edinburgh Filmhouse; National Library of Scotland; St Cecilia's Hall Professor Adam Piette (University of Sheffield); Adam Roberts; John Plotz; Anthony Horowitz; Dr Jonny Murray (University of Edinburgh); Dr Natalie Ferris (University of Edinburgh); Val McDermid; Adam Brookes; Nadine Akkerman (Leiden University)
16 to 20 April 2018 50 George Square; National Library of Scotland; Filmhouse Cinema; Blackwell's Bookshop; St Cecilia's Hall

August Thomas; Jeremy Duns; Aly Monroe; Stephen Dorril; Andrew Lowni; Mick Herron; Denise Mina; Mark Laity (SHAPE, NATO); Professor Patricia Waugh (Durham University); Dr Simon Cooke (University of Edinburgh); Victoria Stewart (University of Leicester)

17 to 22 April 2017 50 George Square; National Library of Scotland; Blackwell's Bookshop; Edinburgh Filmhouse Niall Whelehan (University of Strathclyde); Professor Penny Fielding (University of Edinburgh); Aly Monroe; Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh); Henry Hemming; Annie Machon
10 to 15 April 2016 50 George Square; National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh Filmhouse Dame Stella Rimington; Professor Penny Fielding (University of Edinburgh); Dr Christopher Moran (University of Warwick); Dr Malcolm Craig (University of Edinburgh); Richard J. Aldrich (University of Warwick); Rhodri Jefferys-Jones (University of Edinburgh); Jeremy Duns; Ben Macintyre
18 to 23 May 2015 National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh Filmhouse; Informatics Forum; 50 George Square Graham Greene; James Robertson; Tim Stevens; Kieron O' Hara (University of Southampton); Charles Cumming; Daniel Pembrey
6 to 12 April 2014 Edinburgh Filmhouse; Blackwell's Bookshop; Playfair Library; Teviot Row House

Dame Stella Rimington; Charles Cumming; Jeremy Duns; Tim Stevens; Professor Penny Fielding (University of Edinburgh); Dr Simon Cooke (University of Edinburgh); Dr Anna Vaninskaya (University of Edinburgh); Dr Jonathan Wild (University of Edinburgh)

Browse the full events archive on the Spy Week website

English Literature at the summer festivals

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In 2023, a number of English Literature staff and alumni were involved in events across the summer festivals in Edinburgh. These events were open to the public, and many featured themes of social equity, the climate crisis, and identity.

Please note that this is as close to a complete list as possible, and that speaker titles and institutions may have changed from time of the event.

Date Festival Venue Title English Literature rep
28 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Spark Theatre

The Idea of Home Marjorie Lofti (MSc in Creative Writing)
25 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford West Court Living in Colour Michael Pedersen (upcoming Writer in Residence)
22 August 2023 Book Fringe Typewronger Books Interpret Magazine

Gabrielle Tse (currently completing an MSc in Comparative Literature); Alyson Kissner (MSc in Creative Writing); Medha Singh (MSc in Creative Writing)

21 August 2023 Book Fringe Typewronger Books An evening with Jane McKie, Lauren Pope, Allie Kerper & Anne-Laure Coxam Jane McKie (Lecturer in Creative Writing); Lauren Pope (MSc and PhD in Creative Writing, SUISS Summer School Administrative Manager); Allie Kerper (MSc in Creative Writing)
21 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court Creature Future David Farrier (Professor of Literature and the Environment)
19 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford Storytime Yurt

Our City, Our Stories

Jane McKie (Lecturer in Creative Writing)
18 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Wee Red Bar

Damian Barr Literary Salon

Michael Pedersen (upcoming Writer in Residence)
18 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford West Court

The Million Year View

David Farrier (Professor of Literature and the Environment)
16 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford West Court

Being and Otherness

Marjorie Lotfi (MSc in Creative Writing)
16 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Spark Theatre

Jokha Alharthi: The James Tait Black Event

Jokha Alharthi (PhD graduate in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies); Marilyn Booth (former Iraq Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies); and Benjamin Bateman (Senior Lecturer in Post-1900 British Literature and Director of Learning and Teaching)
14 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford West Court

Women in Writing

Kim Sherwood (Lecturer in Creative Writing)
14 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court

Different Futures are Possible

David Farrier (Professor of Literature and the Environment)
13 August 2023 Book Fringe Typewronger Books

Hillfire Press at the Book Fringe

LLC students and Creative Writing MSc graduates from 2019-20
12 August 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival Wee Red Bar

'Just' Friends

Anahit Behrooz (PhD in English Literature)
5 to 6, 8 to 13, 15 to 20 August 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Traverse Theatre

Sean and Daro Flake It 'Til They Make It

Laurie Motherwell (MSc in Playwriting)

More film screenings and festivals

Exhibitions, workshops, readings and performances

The English Literature Play

Each year, the department of English Literature awards up to £1,000 to a literature student staging a live performance of a play of literary interest featuring our students in its cast and crew.

Date(s) Title Venue
1 to 4 March 2023 Translations Bedlam Theatre
15 and 16 March 2022 Boys Assembly Roxy
26 February to 3 March 2018 Our Country’s Good Bedlam Theatre

19 to 22 January 2011

Gaslight The Caves
16 and 20 March 2010 Grimm Tales McEwan Hall
24 to 28 February 2009 City of Glass Bedlam Theatre
26 February to 1 March 2008 Humble Boy Bedlam Theatre
27 February to 3 March 2007

The Cosmonaut's Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union

Bedlam Theatre

More exhibitions, workshops, readings and performances

Informative banner with three images: a woman outside, a man in front of a hedge, and a man sitting in an armchair

Date: 15 May 2023

Venue: Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square

Readers: Ryan van Winkle (Writer in Residence, University of Edinburgh), Jane McKie ('Carnation Lily Lily Rose'), Patrick Errington ('The Swailing')

In brief: A launch event for Jane McKie’s collection Carnation Lily Lily Rose and also for Patrick James Errington’s new collection the swailing, along with a final 'farewell' event for LLC's Writer in Residence Ryan Van Winkle. There were readings from all three poets, books for signing, wine and nibbles, and a chance to catch up with many familiar faces.