Vancouver: LJMU English at World Congress of Scottish Literature

Vancouver: LJMU English at World Congress of Scottish Literature

LJMU English Lecturer Michael Morris recently attended the second ever World Congress of Scottish Literatures which took place this year in Vancouver, British Columbia. The conference’s subtitle ‘Dialogues and Diasporas’ emphasised the variety of ways in which Scotland is articulated both at home and within a global context through literature in English, Scots and Gaelic. This year marks 150 years of the confederation in Canada, though the First Nations have been on the territory for considerably longer than that. The organisers of the congress observed that the location the conference was held on was ‘unceded territory’ and a strong element of the conference was exploring Indigenous/ Scottish relations from the earliest days to the present. This included an opening session featuring Indigenous spoken word poetry and music and the launch of the Indigenous/ Scottish Studies research cluster which will explore the history of conquest and exchange. The congress was closed with an exhibition of Metis dancing believed to be a fusion...
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Michael Morris’s Slavery Walking Tours

Michael Morris’s Slavery Walking Tours

Black History Month runs each October in the UK to highlight the contribution made by black men and women to Britain’s heritage. This year, LJMU English’s Michael Morris led two public walking tours for Black History Month in Glasgow. Michael’s research revealed that all twelve of the statues in Glasgow’s central George Square have a connection to slavery and abolition. George Square was laid out in 1781 and the statues, erected between 1819 and 1902, are designed to celebrate scientists, writers, military figures, politicians and royals. These statues tell a sanitised story of Empire – whether a clean story of trade from the Clyde, or an orderly procession of colonised peoples paying tribute to a monarch. In an example of ‘guerrilla memorialisation’, this walking tour read the statues ‘against the grain’ to reveal a hidden history of Glasgow and Scotland’s involvement in slavery associated with each and every one of the statues on display. Both tours were sold out and led to great...
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Michael Morris at ‘Abolition, Memory and Time’ Seminar

Michael Morris at ‘Abolition, Memory and Time’ Seminar

LJMU English's Michael Morris was delighted to be invited to take part in the seminar 'Abolition, Memory and Time' at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath in North East Scotland on 16th April 2016. This amazing venue is currently developing as an Arts Centre,  and this, its inaugural seminar, was based around Graham Fagen's exhibition Scotland + Venice 2015, previously at the Venice Biennale. Fagen's exhibition is based around the story of Robert Burns' near emigration to work as a book-keeper on a slave plantation in Jamaica. Fagen took an abolitionist song 'The Slave's Lament' often attributed (though on fragile evidence) to Burns, and recorded a new version with reggae artist Ghetto Priest. The seminar opened out the topic of the exhibition to explore Scottish connections with Atlantic slavery and the continuing importance of questions of race in the present. In particular, connections with the North East were emphasised: as Montrose had been a key port in the tobacco and rum trades, slave ships had left from its port. A...
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Michael Morris at UCL’s Institute of the Americas

Michael Morris at UCL’s Institute of the Americas

Michael Morris is looking forward to giving a seminar in Bloomsbury next week at University College London’s Institute of the Americas. The session is entitled ‘Scotland and the Caribbean: Atlantic Archipelagos’, and in it he will discuss aspects from his recent book. This follows similar talks at University of Edinburgh Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies and University of Liverpool Centre for the Study of International Slavery. Michael's paper at UCL will revolve around the cultural history of the Atlantic world, particularly that of the long eighteenth century. It is concerned with recovering the memory of Atlantic slavery in a Scottish context, as well as the implications of this recovery for contemporary debates on Scottish (and British) identity in a post-referendum context. Michael will also be engaging with the concept of the ‘archipelago’, bringing together theories around Caribbean creolization with the Four Nations approach which re-considers ‘the British Isles’ as an ‘Atlantic Archipelago’. The seminar will take place on Wednesday 16th March, from 5.30-7pm, and you can find more details...
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Scotland & The Caribbean, c.1740-1833: Michael Morris’s New Book

Scotland & The Caribbean, c.1740-1833: Michael Morris’s New Book

Since joining LJMU English in June 2014, Dr Michael Morris has completed his first book, which participates in the modern recovery of the memory of the long-forgotten relationship between Scotland and the Caribbean. Drawing on theoretical paradigms of world literature and transnationalism, it argues that Caribbean slavery profoundly shaped Scotland’s economic, social and cultural development, and draws out the implications for current debates on Scotland’s national narratives of identity. Eighteenth- to nineteenth-century Scottish writers are re-examined in this new light. Michael's book explores the ways that discourses of 'improvement' in both Scotland and the Caribbean are mediated by the modes of pastoral and georgic which struggle to explain and contain the labour conditions of agricultural labourers, both free and enslaved. The ambivalent relationship of Scottish writers, including Robert Burns, to questions around abolition allows fresh perspectives on the era. Furthermore, Michael considers the origins of a hybrid Scottish-Creole identity through two nineteenth-century figures - Robert Wedderburn and Mary Seacole. The final chapter moves forward to consider the...
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