English Literature

Past events

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

English Literature Seminar Series  

An open book on a table. Text says: English Literature Seminar Series 2021-2022

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 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”

More lectures and talks

Dispatches from the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

Date: 16 November 2021

Venue: Online (Zoom)

In brief: An online conversation between First Nations activist Delee Nikal and Rebecca Macklin (University of Edinburgh), introduced by Dr Julie Gibbins (University of Edinburgh), on colonial resource extraction, gender violence and COP26. In this special event, they shared their reflections on why global climate action must account for the ongoing role of colonialism and the devastating impact this has for Indigenous women across Canada. Supported by The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History and the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Watch the conversation between Delee and Rebecca on the IASH website

Gained in Translation: Adapting Literary Texts into Comics

Image of Paul Karasik in a white medical face mask, drawing a nose and mouth on top of the mask

Date: 4 March 2021

Venue: Online (Zoom)

Speaker: Paul Karasik

In brief: An illustrated lecture on the challenges of adapting literary texts into comics and graphic novels.

Read more about the lecture

 Conferences and symposia

Shaping the Self: The Construction of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Arthur Edmund Grimshaw's painting The Strand from 1899 with text reading Shaping the Self

Date: 19 May 2022

Venue: 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

Organisers: Céleste Callen and Emily Vault (PhD students in English Literature, University of Edinburgh)

In brief: A one-day conference exploring the changing perspectives on individual identities and the construction of the self in nineteenth-century fiction. The conference comprised four themed panel sessions and a round-table discussion with Dr Jonathan Wild (University of Edinburgh).

Find out more about the conference

Creative Writing Conference

Image with text reading University of Edinburgh Creative Writing Conference

Date: 10 May 2022

Venue: 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

Organiser: Ryan Van Winkle (Writer in Residence, University of Edinburgh)

In brief: A one-day conference of panel discussions, one-to-one meetings and networking activities, highlighting a range of publishing opportunities and support available to emerging writers. The event also included readings from Nick Holdstock, the University of Edinburgh Writing Prizes 2022 winners and 'From Arthur's Seat' contributors, the annual anthology by the MSc Creative Writing cohort.

Browse the full programme and speaker bios

12th International Walter Scott Conference: History, Landscape, Environment

12th International Conference on Walter Scott

Dates: 6 to 8 July 2021

Venue: Online (Microsoft Teams; Media Hopper)

Keynote speakers: Professor Deidre Lynch (Harvard University); Professor Alison Lumsden (University of Aberdeen)

In brief: A three day online conference celebrating the 250th anniversary of Walter Scott. The conference comprised two live plenary lectures as well as 20 panel sessions of lectures recorded in advance and made available on Media Hopper.

Browse lectures the full conference programme

Enemies in the Early Modern World 1453-1789: Conflict, Culture and Control

Date: 27 and 28 March 2021

Venue: Online

Keynote speakers: Professor Jyotsna Singh (Michigan State University); Dr Helmer Helmers (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences); Professor Diane Purkiss (Keble College, University of Oxford); Professor Adrian Streete (Glasgow University); Professor Ania Loomba (University of Pennsylvania)

Organiser: Thom Pritchard (Edinburgh Early Modern Network)

In brief: A two-day virtual conference exploring the construction of 'the enemy' and the consequences of this process, such as war and persecution, in the Early Modern World. The conference comprised both keynote and plenary lectures.

Northern Early Modern Network Conference

Northern Early Modern Network Conference 2020

Date: 26 and 27 November 2020

Venue: Online (Blackboard Collaborate)

Keynote speakers: Michael Ohajuru (University of London); Professor Helen Smith (University of York)

Organisers: Thom Pritchard and Julia Smith (Edinburgh Early Modern Network)

In brief: A two-day virtual conference comprising two keynote lectures and five panel sessions. The conference launched the Northern Early Modern Network, a peer network for early modern scholars in Scotland and the North of England. 

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 Jonatan Wild (University of Edinburgh)

Browse the full events archive on the Spy Week website

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

Scotland’s Coastal Romanticisms

James Barret,'s painting A View of Stornoway from 1798 with the text: Scotland's Coastal Romanticisms 5th February 2022

Date: 5 February 2022

Venue: 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

Organiser: Dr Anna Pilz (University of Edinburgh)

In brief: A one-day workshop bringing together investigations of today's coastal romanticisms on Scotland’s shores, hosted jointly by Scottish Writing in the Nineteeth Century (SWINC) and Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH). The workshop comprised three panels of seven speakers and an artist talk with Christina Riley. Contributions focused on the material reality and ecologies of coasts in cultural productions from domestic travellers to transnational visitors and explorers, from writers and artists to natural historians and geologists and all those drawn to the coast in order to highlight the richness of R/romanticisms, past, present and future.

Browse the full programme on the SWINC website

Related research: Travel, Environment, Sustainability 

Find out more about research in English Literature Travel, Environment, Sustainability: A literary and cultural history of Irish and Scottish coastal routesTravel, Environment, Sustainability: A literary and cultural history of Irish and Scottish coastal routesTravel, Environment, Sustainability: A literary and cultural history of Irish and Scottish coastal routes