Research bites

Read about the research activities and achievements of our established and early career researchers.

17 August 2023

Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh from Celtic and Scottish Studies has won funding from the AHRC for his project 'From Lismore To Barbados: The Gaelic Caribbean Travel Journal And Verse Of Dugald MacNicol (1791-1844).'

The project will enable Peadar and his co-investigator Prof Nigel Leask (University of Glasgow) to focus on a travel journal and song-poems written in Scottish Gaelic in the 1810s by Dugald MacNicol, a soldier from Lismore stationed in Barbados. Making MacNicol's Gaelic texts available in a scholarly edition with English translation will add nuance and depth to the understanding of the literary and linguistic history of the Gaelic language, Scottish participation in the British imperial and colonial enterprise, and the nature of 19th-century international trans-Atlantic literary, familial and linguistic networks.

The funding from AHRC will allow Peadar and Nigel to devote time to edit Dugald MacNicol's writing to modern standards, organise two conferences (in Lismore and Barbados), and co-develop a television documentary.


Find out more about Peadar's research on his Research Profile


10 August 2023

Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Scottish and Victorian Literature, worked as part of the editing team on 'The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle' since 1964 and worked through to the completion of the recently released final volume of this long running project.

The concluding volume of 'The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle' has now been published. Volume 50 encompasses the period from December 1875 to February 1881, spanning the years following Jane’s passing and concluding with Thomas Carlyle’s death. In its pages, readers will discover 80 letters dictated by Thomas Carlyle, and another 23 written by his niece Mary Aitken Carlyle and nephew Alexander Carlyle, including a poignant final letter composed by the latter, detailing the events surrounding Thomas Carlyle’s death and funeral.

Beginning with the first four volumes, published in 1970, this extraordinary collection has provided a captivating glimpse into the lives of Thomas Carlyle, the renowned Scottish writer and historian, and his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle, one of history’s great letter writers. Their home became a hub for a diverse circle of intellectuals, including radicals, revolutionaries, feminists, and writers from both sides of the Atlantic. The series of volumes has since been hailed as one of the most comprehensive and remarkable literary archives of the nineteenth century.


Find out more about the Carlyle Letters on their online resource page


12 July 2023

Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh from Celtic and Scottish Studies secured an award from the Edinburgh - Copenhagen Strategic Partnership Seed fund.

Peadar and his research collaborator from the University of Copenhagen are planning a series of workshops to open up the archives held in Edinburgh and Copenhagen of eighteenth-century correspondence once belonging to the Danish-Icelandic scholar Grímur Thorkelin (1752–1829), secretary of the Arnamagnæan Commission, Keeper of the Danish Royal Archive and “professor extraordinary” at the University of Copenhagen.

The project reassesses Grímur Thorkelin’s work within the context of late 18th-century septentrionalism – interest in things Northern – with particular focus on his extensive scholarly network connecting Scandinavia and Scotland.


Find out more about Peadar's research on his Research Profile


6 July 2023

Jenny Watson (DELC - German) has been awarded an RSE Workshop Grant for her project Uneven Ground: Literary Representations of the “Holocaust by Bullets”.

The so-called “Holocaust by bullets” has occupied a marginal position in memory literature, often emerging only via allusion and metaphor. This workshop will examine whether this is changing, particularly over the last two decades, and will discuss why literary representations of this facet of the Nazi genocide remain so scarce. This will be the first meeting of literary scholars working on this topic, which so far has been addressed primarily with respect to museums, memorials and formal commemorative practices.

The funding from the RSE will allow Jenny to host a workshop and a symposium in the UK, bringing together researchers at various career stages. As well as the workshop and symposium events, the project outputs will also include two book proposals, a public webinar series, public lectures and author events, and discussions during the project will facilitate the development of larger funding applications, for the project’s next steps.


Find out more about Jenny's research on her Research Profile


6 July 2023

Xuelei Huang has secured funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for her project 'The Smell of Scotland: History, Heritage, and Practice.' Xuelei and her collaborator William Tullett (University of York) argue that scents are an essential component of Scotland’s culture and economy. Unveiling, preserving, and making use of this heritage is therefore imperative. From the sweet scents of yellow gorse to the exquisite aromas of whisky, from the pungent stench of the medieval Old Town of Edinburgh to the industrial smells of Glasgow, the smellscapes of Scotland are rich and diverse.

Bringing together academics, perfumers, heritage experts, tourism officers, artists, and the general public, 'The Smell of Scotland' charts the ways in which Scottish smells are entangled with history, identity making, and biodiversity. Focusing on smellscapes and environments, food culture, and animals and botanical species, Xuelei and William will organise workshops and smell-walks in order to produce a journal special issue, a report to relevant stakeholders on smell’s heritage and cultural values, and further grant applications.


Find out more about Xuelei's research on her Research Profile


15 June 2023

We are excited to share that a LLC-PPLS collaboration has won funding from the Carnegie Trust to conduct a multidisciplinary examination of the effect of reading tasks on poetic language processing.

The project brings together researchers from LLC (Dr Patrick Errington, English Literature) and PPLS (Dr Dan Mirman) to explore questions such as: Can changing what we read a poem *for* change how we understand and experience that poem? Might doing so make reading poetry more pleasurable and, as a result, more readily practiced? And would reading more poetry improve our mental wellbeing and make society more empathetic and creative?

Having collaborated on previous projects funded by the Wellcome Trust, the project team joins Patrick's ongoing research in reader response theory and creative practice with Dan's expertise in experimental psychology, neuroscience, and cutting-edge empirical techniques. Together, they will design and conduct a complex series of interdisciplinary experiments that will begin to specify what effects reading tasks have on reading experience. They aim to use their findings to reshape the field of literary study and the teaching of literature worldwide all the while significantly advancing the neuroscientific and psychological understanding of language processing and translating findings into high-impact mental health interventions.


Find out more about Patrick's research on his Research Profile


13 June 2023

The European Ethnological Research Centre (EERC) is a research centre within Celtic & Scottish Studies, whose primary concern is the promotion of research into everyday life and society in Scotland and the publication of research results. The EERC has recently received further funding to continue its work on Scotland's tangible and intangible heritage.

The EERC was founded in 1989 by Prof Alexander Fenton (chair in Scottish Ethnology and Director of the School of Scottish Studies between 1990-1994) and initially based at the National Museum of Scotland before it moved to the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies in 2006.

EERC's flagship project is the 'Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project' (RESP), which began in 2012 and entails significant fieldwork and public engagement. The EERC also participates in a wide range of collaborations in the area of oral history (with archives, libraries and museums, companies and organisations, schools and a prison) and maintains a programme of outreach and knowledge exchange.


Find out more about the European Ethnological Research Centre


8 June 2023

Dr Fabien Arribert-Narce has been awarded further funding from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for the project 'Masks and Screens', which forms part of the research partnership in Intermediality Studies between the University of Edinburgh and Meiji University, Tokyo.

The partnership between Universities of Meiji and Edinburgh is the first collaborative project between Japan and the UK in the field of intermedia studies. It was launched in autumn 2021 and its inaugural workshop took place in Edinburgh in spring 2022.

The planned conference 'Masks and Screens' is the fourth event of the research partnership between Meiji and Edinburgh and will investigate the intermedial nature of early modern, modern and contemporary literary and theatrical forms in Japan and the West from a comparative perspective. Scholars from Meiji and Edinburgh will reflect on the similarities and differences in the uses of masks and screens in these two cultural areas, by highlighting their main characteristics, interactions and mutual influences. The conference will spur discussions between researchers and practitioners who will explore the dialogue between Japanese and British uses of screens and masks, examining themes of display, disguise and mediation to create artworks, texts and performances.


Find out more about Fabien's research on his Research Profile


3 May 2023

Prof. Will Lamb and Dr Beatrice Alex have been awarded funding by the Scottish Government to produce a Gaelic subtitling system suitable for the BBC. Funding will enable the team to start working towards production of a large language model – similar to ChatGPT – for Scottish Gaelic speakers.  Efforts to create the system are part of a wider initiative to counter the threat of digital extinction, faced by Scottish Gaelic and other minority languages.

Researchers will assemble a large body of Gaelic language data and use it to generate a high-quality automatic speech recognition (ASR) system for media, education and research. The project will provide desperately-needed Gaelic subtitling technology and catalyse the development of state-of-the-art Gaelic language technology into the future. This will help safeguard the language in digital domains and contribute substantially to national revitalisation efforts.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, BBC Alba, the Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic, the historical dictionary Faclair na Gàidhlig, Gaelic media service MG ALBA ,and Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches – a unique online record of Scotland’s rich oral heritage.


Find out more about Prof. Lamb and Dr Alex's project


6 April 2023

Eleoma Bodammer, Reader in German Studies, has won Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship funding for her project E. T. A. Hoffmann and Disability.

Eleoma’s project will examine a selection of works by the German Romantic E. T. A. Hoffmann through the lens of literary disability studies and propose that Hoffmann connects diverse physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities to innovation in creativity and challenges the hegemony of normativity. She will advance her argument that to understand the cultural and literary origins of the idea of disability fully, we need to consider narratives written before disability became a collective term and identity marker in the 20th century.

This two-year Fellowship award will support teaching relief to provide time for Eleoma to work on the monograph, conduct archival research in Germany, and travel to conferences to disseminate the project findings.


Find out more about Eleoma's research on her Research Profile


23 March 2023

Prof. Federica Pedriali has won a Research Associateship from the Modern Humanities Research Associateship. This funding will support the completion of the Edinburgh Gadda Encyclopaedia.

The Encyclopaedia has been 20 years in the making as part of the Edinburgh Gadda Projects (formerly The Edinburgh Journal of Gadda Studies). Highly distinctive in his experimentalism but sitting right at the core of the European literary tradition, Italian philosopher and modernist novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973) is an exceptional object of study. Language, in Gadda's case, is the tool to break down reality - not to deconstruct it, but to capture its energetic potential, its granular, molecular force.

The Encyclopaedia engages with this defiant translingualism, with contributions from top international Gadda scholars, senior editors of the major Gadda editions, established translators, and many emerging early career scholars. The printed encyclopaedia will be a landmark publication in two large volumes, and will work in sync with the two editions of Gadda's complete works.

The MHRA Research Associateship will enable Federica to recruit a Research Associate for twelve months to complete the editorial work necessary to prepare the Encyclopaedia for publication.


Find out more about Federica's research on her Research Profile

Find out more about Edinburgh Gadda Projects


23 March 2023

Jean Duffy, Emeritus Professor of French, has won British Academy funding for the project Out of Line: Text, Image and Voice in Jean Dubuffet's Creative Writings.

Jean’s project will run from May 2023 through to the end of 2024, during which time Jean will undertake a series of research trips in France and Switzerland to examine limited edition volumes and unpublished extracts of Dubuffet’s writings.

The resulting monograph, which will be the first extended critical study devoted to Dubuffet’s creative writings, will reveal the thematic richness and formal and linguistic sophistication of these little-known works and will situate them within both the history of twentieth-century visual‒verbal enquiry and the evolution of Dubuffet’s art practice and aesthetic thinking. By identifying thematic patterns running across Dubuffet’s writings and artworks, and by deciphering the quasi-phonetic and invented-language 'textes en jargon', Out of Line will significantly increase the accessibility and audience of this diverse corpus.


Find out more about Jean's research on her Research Profile


23 March 2023

Marie Allitt from our English Literature subject area has won British Academy funding for the project Fatigue in Modernist Imaginations.

Combining a literary-critical lens with disability studies and medical humanities, this project aims to improve the visibility and understanding of chronic illnesses by identifying the language and meanings around fatigue in the first half of the twentieth century. In contrast to discussions of war and trauma in this period, which have so far shaped the discourse around pain and fatigue by focusing on psychic distress and inarticulacy, Marie’s project will give greater attention to physical experiences of fatigue and the contemporaneous imperatives for productivity and efficiency.

Marie’s small grant award will support several archival research trips in the UK and the US, which will inform her planned monograph (provisionally sharing the project’s title), as well as attendance at conferences to disseminate her research.


Find out more about Marie's research on her Research Profile


10 March 2023

Lori Watson from Celtic and Scottish Studies has been awarded an AHRC Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship, for phase one of the project The New Traditional School in Scotland.

Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in the creation of larger-scale, innovative compositions by traditional musicians in Scotland. The composers of these works experiment with forms beyond the typical 32 bar dance tune, draw on a wide range of influences, and engage in opportunity-based professional development in this unique community of practice, described as The New Traditional School (Watson, 2013).

This phase of the project follows on from a pilot study supported by a Small Research Grant awarded to Lori by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In this phase Lori will explore the creative practices of composing traditional music in Scotland, document examples of creative process and develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between tradition and creativity, through the development of a new body of innovative artistic work and the first national collection and analysis of existing works from key composers.


Find out more about Lori's research on her Research Profile


9 March 2023

Charlotte Gleghorn from Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies has been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, for her project Indigenous Cinematics: Authorship, Authority and the Law in Native Latin America.

During this one-year Fellowship, Charlotte will examine how Indigenous filmmakers and their collaborators are reshaping filmic authorship and authority. The first transnational study of authorship in Indigenous Latin American film, the resulting monograph will make a timely and ground-breaking contribution to contemporary debates regarding the global politics of film recognition, representation and redress, illuminating broader questions pertaining to authorship and cultural property more generally.

This project builds upon Charlotte's longstanding engagement with Indigenous and Afrodescendant film authorship and authority; she has already collaborated with key filmmakers and allied collaborators of the continental umbrella movement of Indigenous Latin American film and media. The monograph project emerged from research undertaken on Charlotte's AHRC-funded Leadership Fellows project The Politics of Authorship in Latin American Indigenous Filmmaking.

The British Academy award will support Charlotte's time to complete the monograph project. The Fellowship will also support Charlotte to undertake interviews with filmmakers and leading scholars in Indigenous Law; to develop a podcast series addressing some of the key issues raised in the monograph, and to attend conferences to disseminate the research arising from the project.


Find out more about Charlotte's research on her Research Profile