Design a site like this with
Get started


Welcome to the blog for New Approaches to Catholicism and Literature in 21st Century Scotland. Here you can find posts about the project, links to other interesting material, and updates on upcoming events.

Symposium Report

With well over 100 registered delegates from around the world, eleven speakers, and three keynote lectures, the Symposium reached a wide and varied audience. Professor Alison Shell kicked us off with a fascinating keynote on the drama of the British Counter-Reformation, before panels on gender, politics and anti-Catholicism, and loyalty, religion, and identity. Papers ranged over a series of topics including epistolary networks, representations of Elizabeth I, the siege of Breda, John Donne’s ‘La Corona’, and the popularity of early modern popery. We then finished with a wide-ranging keynote from Professor Tom Corns looking at Milton and Marvell’s attitudes to Catholicism.

Day two began with a panel on the enlightenment, Romanticism, and anti-Catholicism, with two rich papers on John Toland’s Celtic connections, and eroticism and anti-Catholicism in Gothic literature. The final panel considered Catholicism and literature in Victorian decadent poetry, Irish modernist literature, and the work of Hilary Mantel. We concluded with our final keynote from Professor Carol Herringer, who considered the presence (and absence) of the doctrine of the real presence in Victorian poetry. Over the two days, questions and discussions flowed, and the connections made between periods and different national literatures emphasised the need for a comparative and cross-period history of literature and Catholicism in Scotland, Ireland, and England.

Symposium – One Week to Go!

With just one week to go, the excitement is building for the rescheduled online symposium to be held on 1st and 2nd June at the University of Glasgow. We’re delighted to have so many people registered from all over the world and are looking forward to the discussions. There are limited spaces left so do register as soon as possible:

A programme for the meeting can be found on the ‘Upcoming Events’ page.

Symposium – Update, 12th March, 2021

As you know, we had to postpone the symposium in 2020 due to Covid. Although we are still unable to hold an in-person symposium, we’re delighted to say that the meeting will now go ahead as an online event on the 1st and 2nd June 2021. The programme is being finalised and will hopefully be released soon. Meantime, you can register for the symposium here: Registration is free and you will be sent a Zoom link before the event.

Symposium – Update, 5th February, 2020

It was wonderful to receive so many excellent abstracts for the upcoming symposium. It will be a hard job selecting the successful papers but thanks to all who submitted. A full programme and registration details will follow in due course.

Symposium in 2020 – CFP Now Live!

We’re delighted to announce the call for papers for the Symposium next year. Please click ‘Upcoming Events and Calls for Papers’ for full details. There is some funding available for ECRs and PGR students to attend. Contact details are on the CFP. Do get in touch if you need any more information.

Symposium in 2020 – Update

The planning for a Symposium in 2020 on ‘Catholicism and Literary Culture in Scotland, Ireland, and England: Medieval to Modern’ is underway! We are lining up some exciting plenary speakers and hope to have a call for papers out soon. Watch this space (and on Twitter @cathlit21stcsc1)…

Workshop, 13th-14th September, University of Glasgow – Update – September 2019

What a great two days! The Network was launched in style with a Workshop attended by academics, teachers, student teachers, local government, and members of the public. We also had an excellent public lecture by Professor Tina Beattie (Roehampton) followed by a wine reception. Papers and presentations covered numerous topics, including: the historical legacies involved in teaching Catholic literature in Scotland; strategies for teaching early modern Catholicism and anti-Catholicism to undergraduates; the shape of an interdisciplinary Catholic Studies in the modern University; how sectarianism is challenged in Scottish schools; understudied authors and the formation of the canon; teaching and belief in School and HE settings. These and other strands were debated by delegates over the two days in an atmosphere of genuine interdisciplinary and collaborative endeavor. The event has fostered new links within the University and also with partners and colleagues working in other sectors. See the project Twitter feed for Tweets from the event (@cathlit21stcsc1) and hello to our new followers! There is clearly significant interest in these subjects in Scotland and it will be the job of the Network to foster these interests and to make further links as the project develops.

Workshop Programme Now Available – August 2019

We are pleased to make our Workshop programme available. Registration is now open too – places are filling up so get in quick! Both the programme and the link to register for the Workshop and/or the public lecture by Professor Tina Beattie are available on the ‘Upcoming Events’ page.

Workshop Planning – Update – August 2019

The organisation and planning for the workshop in September is stepping up a gear. We decided to extend the call for papers deadline by a week to the 19th August and have been delighted to see the abstracts coming in. The workshop is shaping up nicely and we are very excited for what promises to be a really cross-disciplinary and cross-sector event. More soon…

Thoughts on the Project Image – July 2019

A few people, including some art historians, kindly got in touch to ask why we’d used the William Blake image of Jacob’s Ladder, given that Blake was not a Catholic:

The image was chosen first because of its biblical subject, a common heritage of Catholics and Protestants alike. Given this project’s concern to explore Catholic religious identity in a broad, comparative context, this seemed apt. Blake was certainly no Catholic: indeed, he produced some striking anti-papal images that are in keeping with the Reformed anti-Catholic tradition. But like many eighteenth and nineteenth century artists, he was well aware of Catholic iconography – Clare Haynes’ Pictures and Popery: Art and Religion in England, 1660-1760 (Routledge, 2006) explains this conflicted relationship brilliantly. See too the work of Colin Haydon on the 18th century, and Susan Griffin on the 19th century. Secondly, it is a beautiful and memorable image, something very important on social media as we try to publicise the project – on that count, at least, it clearly worked!

Nevertheless, it’s important to take on board the comments of the experts who’ve been in touch. The project image should reflect more obviously the Catholic heritage that we are examining. For that reason, the new project image is Georges de la Tour’s Magdalene with the Smoking Flame from about 1640.

De la Tour was a French Catholic, and his indebtedness to Caravaggio and the technique of chiaroscuro is put to striking use here. The picture is a vanitas, a meditation on the evanescent nature of life and of human endeavour. Yet the youth and physical beauty of the Magdalene also remind the viewer that the contemplative life is to be counterbalanced by the active life. Activity is tempered – but not forestalled – by contemplation: a good guiding principle for the project!

Speakers for the Workshop Confirmed – May 2019

The network is pleased to announce an exciting line up of speakers for our first Workshop in September 2018.

Professor Tina Beattie (University of Roehampton) is Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Catholic Studies and of Catherine of Siena College will give a public keynote lecture to inaugurate the activities network and the Workshop. Professor Beattie is well known for her work on the Catholic tradition and contemporary culture, particularly in areas to do with gender, sexuality and reproductive ethics; Catholic social teaching and women’s rights, theology and the visual arts, as well as for her broadcast and media work more generally.

Mr. Dave Scott is the Director of Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity, Nil by Mouth The organisation’s ground-breaking work with Schools, Colleges, employers, and other public bodies is at the forefront of efforts to combat religious bigotry and intolerance in modern Scotland.

Professor Robert Davis (University of Glasgow), is Chair of Religious and Cultural Education. He has published widely on areas such as religion, postsecularism, literature, music, folklore, education, history of education, sectarianism, childhood studies, environmental education and the development of Catholic education in Scotland and beyond. He has served or advised on a number of public bodies on education policy –

Dr. Maureen Farrell (University of Glasgow) is Senior Lecturer in Culture, Literacies, Inclusion & Pedagogy. Her research interests are in Scottish Children’s Literature, Children’s Literature; Scottish Literature, Picture Books; Visual Literacy, Children’s Literature and Religious Education, Multi-modal literacy, Visual Literacy and intercultural responses, digital literacy. She is currently the Director of Partnerships for the School of Education at Glasgow –

Professor Stephen McKinney (University of Glasgow) has research interests in Catholic Schools; Catholic Education; Faith Schooling; Religious Education; Sectarianism; Sectarianism and Faith schools; Poverty, deprivation and school education; Social Justice and Catholic schools. He works with a wide range of public educational bodies and is currently the Leader of the Research and Teaching Cluster, Pedagogy, Praxis and Faith at Glasgow –

First Meeting of Network Steering Group -March 2019, Glasgow

The steering group met at the University of Glasgow on the 20th March 2019 to discuss the project, including plans for its events and activities over the next two years. Planning is currently underway for the first event, a workshop to be held in September 2019 on the theme: ‘Teaching Catholicism and Literature in 21st c Scotland’. We hope to have a wide variety of participants, and thanks to the RSE, a number of bursaries are available for school teachers and postgraduate students to attend. For more information on how to apply, and for the call for papers, see under ‘Upcoming Events’.

%d bloggers like this: