This article proposes that the popularly held model of ‘Gothic’ writings emergence in the Eighteenth Century is too partial: it tends to privilege prose fiction written in England in the latter part of the century. As a corrective, the article looks at poetry written in Scotland across the century, seeking not origins for ‘the Gothic’ as a transhistorical literary mode of expression, but emergent treatments of the supernatural that fed back into the literature of the period. It argues that poetry in eighteenth-century Scotland develops well-established indigenous supernatural tropes, especially that of the ‘ghaist’ or ghost.
The 2000s were a decade that saw many important Scottish films make big splashes in critical and commercial terms, the decade ending with Peter Mullan's acclaimed film Neds. The field of Scottish cinema studies was more or less born with Scotch Reels (1982), a collection of essays edited by Colin McArthur. The collection sought to unearth a history of cinematic representations of Scotland and to argue for the need for more indigenous production. Scottish cinema studies is now a field that is very much alive and vibrant, as evidenced by a recent wave of book-length publications such as the latest anthology on Scottish cinema, Scottish Cinema Now (2009). This book seeks to add to this growing tide of scholarship and in so doing assist with the project of subjecting the works of Scottish cinema to sustained close analysis and historicization. The central context of this book is the production landscape surrounding Scottish cinema over the last thirty years. After Local Hero and Trainspotting, Mrs Brown ranks as the most prominent indigenously produced contemporary Scottish film in terms of both popularity and critical prestige. The book explores Lynne Ramsay's career after Morvern Callar telling us about the optimistic narratives presented by Scottish cinema historians. The book also concerns with a figure who has been less successful in critical terms than his peers even if his films, particularly Young Adam and Hallam Foe, have resonated more with audiences than Red Road, Orphans or Neds.
James Robertson‘s well-deserved reputation as a historical novelist has obscured the role that the Gothic plays in his work. Manifesting itself in distinctively Scottish fashion, Robertson‘s Gothicism is tied to the ‘broader national culture’ in general and to post-devolutionary Scotland in particular. Not only does his transformation of the Gothic into the historical novels uncanny other resist the modern novels tendency towards increasing privatisation. It also results in work that diverges from much post-devolutionary Scottish fiction in that his stories and novels are, by virtue of the density of their Scottishness, deeply connected to the local and to folk culture.
The Last King of Scotland and post-imperial Scottish cinema
Not British, Scottish?:
The Last King of Scotland and
post-imperial Scottish cinema
Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker): You are British?
James Garrigan (James McAvoy): Well, I’m Scottish . . . Scottish . . .
Idi Amin: Scottish? Why didn’t you say so?
(Dialogue exchange from The Last King of Scotland)
With a number of major awards to its name – including an Oscar
and a Golden Globe – and an international box office return second
only to Trainspotting, The Last King of Scotland is one of the most
high-profile films that Scotland has seen. Despite this, it has only
This short essay draws on research undertaken by the curator of the Scottish Screen
Archive on the few surviving films credited to Greens Film Service of Glasgow in the
teens and twenties. The research revealed a dynamic family business, born out of the
travelling cinematograph shows of the late nineteenth century, growing to assume a
dominant role in the Scottish cinema trade in the silent era, across exhibition,
distribution and production. One small part of a lost film history waiting for
rediscovery – early cinema in Scotland.
Glasgow Corporation had been sponsoring films for almost twenty years when in 1938
its Public Health Department commissioned seven silent films. This marked new
relations between the Corporation and the emerging Scottish documentary film movement
and a change of approach towards the films’ audiences and the city itself. The essay
traces the Corporation‘s film sponsorship from the late 1930s to 1978 when the final
images of Glasgow‘s Progress, the Corporation‘s last sponsored film - on its urban
renewal projects were taken. By then the Corporation had been amalgamated into
Strathclyde Regional Council, the century-long social project of reform had come to
an end and television had made its own documentary impact. It argues that over time
Corporation films served a variety of political and institutional purposes and often
prefigured the fortunes of the city and its people.
This article examines Denise Mina‘s treatment of Scottish identity and the gothic tradition in her run on Hellblazer, an American horror comic about an English occultist, John Constantine. Mina takes Constantine to Glasgow to confront the deadly “empathy plague” which forces victims to emphasise with others. Mina argues that the Scots revel in the misery of others, making them easy victims for this malady. However, this failing becomes a means for victory, as everyone is united in an outpouring of shameful joy at the story‘s conclusion. Mina‘s Scotland is a home away from home for Constantine – haunted, embittered and lost – and her image of Scotland mirrors representations seen in other Scottish Gothic texts.
Cruelty, Darkness and the Body in Janice Galloway, Alison Kennedy and Louise Welsh
This essay seeks to define a Gothic tendency in the ‘viscerality’ of some recent and prominent Scottish women writers: Janice Galloway, Alison Kennedy and Louise Welsh. The argument addresses an alienating tension in this ‘viscerality’ between a fabular form and the impression of a new realism of social surfaces. This is a Gothic of cruelty and violent representation of the body, which opens a Scottish urban culture, portrayed as a synecdoche for divided consciousness, to fables of sexual and political alienation.
The journey North is a recurrent motif throughout the Gothic literary tradition, often representing a journey back in time to a more primitive location where conventional rules do not apply. Within the context of contemporary Scottish Gothic this journey continues to involve a temporal regression. The North of Scotland, and specifically the Highlands, is still a Gothic location, allowing for an interrogation of the homogenising notion of ‘national identity’. In this article the journey North is explored in the work of contemporary writers and film directors including Iain Banks, Alan Warner, David Mackenzie, and Neil Marshall.
This essay examines the proliferation of visual representations of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), considering the question of what links contemporary (Scottish?) Gothic to its problematic origins. After a survey of cinematic and graphic adaptations, the essay focuses on Steven Moffatt‘s Jekyll (BBC, 2007), which combines the post-Darwinian anxieties surrounding Stevensons tale of human regression with a much more contemporary interrogation of the ‘human’ against the backdrop of complex globalised scientific conspiracies. Significantly, the production draws on the Scottish origin of the text, re-proposing the question of (national) identity and authenticity against the threat of globalisation.