Networking Again: Forthcoming Engagements

In a strangely sychronistic way, the different topics I’ve focused on as a researcher are now intertwining and demanding to be considered alongside one another.  My forthcoming engagements are a perfect example of this!

Next week I’m going to see the Copyright Collection at the University of Aberdeen.  That’s directly related to the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network activities.

The following week I’m sharing a Pecha Kucha at Icepops 2019 (an ‘International Copyright-Literacy Event with Playful Opportunities for Practitioners and Scholars’, in Edinburgh).  In 20 slides each lasting 20 seconds, I’m combining historical research, intellectual property, and modern academic librarianship, in ‘Silence in the Library: from Copyright Collections to Cage’.  Rabbits on pianoAnd I’ll be playing the piano, purely in a background music capacity in the evening!  Nothing scholarly about that part – I cannot call it practice-based research in the least.


A Fifth collection Gow pub Gow Shepherd title page
Paratext? In music? Assuredly!

July will see me speaking about paratext at the International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies congress in Edinburgh (‘Reading Between the Lines: Paratext in National Song and Fiddle Tunebooks of the Georgian Era’), and also having some vacation!

By August, hopefully my next grant application will either be taking shape, or have been submitted. Exciting times.

September, talking about songs in the Napoleonic era at a conference held at King’s College London: the British Commission for Military History’s War and Peace in the Age of Napoleon conference.  My talk is entitled, ‘Napoleon’s Songs: the Artistic Responses of Composers and Performers to Contemporary Current Affairs’.

And in November, I’ll be talking about Scottish song-collecting at the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow: ‘Scottish Song Collecting in the Context of Cultural Heritage: “A Mission of National Importance” (to quote Alexander Campbell)’.

By then the dedicated Stationers’ Hall issue of Brio will be hitting your letterboxes, too!


Literary Print Cultures – database reviewed

One of our network members has spotted a useful review of Literary Print Cultures, in Reference Reviews.  I’m very grateful to be alerted to this.

For your interest, I share details:-

Literary Print Culture: The Stationers’ Company Archive, London

Author: Wenzel, Sarah G11 Bibliographer of Literatures of Europe & The Americas, University of Chicago Library, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Publication info: Reference Reviews ; Harlow  Vol. 32, Iss. 4,  (2018): 3-4. (Published by Emerald Insight, this is also available via Proquest, if your institution subscribes.)

And that was Paris

Monday last week saw me flying to Paris, to talk about the Highland/Gaelic cultural side of Sir John Macgregor Murray.  Most of the workshop papers were about Persian manuscripts he had either commissioned or collected, but the interesting common thread was his careful collecting of information about different aspects of life in India, whether religious, agrarian or otherwise.   My paper was paired with a paper about his correspondence concerning the preservation of the Taj Mahal.  You might not imagine that Highland culture had much in common with an Indian mausoleum, but in fact the papers sat together really well.  They show an awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, and an appreciation of the need for fieldwork to document different aspects of that heritage.

If you follow this blog, then you’ll realise that I had done quite a bit of digging around to find out more about his Highland/Gaelic activities, since I previously only really knew of him in the context of his bringing Joseph Macdonald’s draft piping thesis back to Scotland, and assisting Alexander Campbell in devising an itinerary for his song-collecting expedition.  I hadn’t intended to pursue his manuscripts etc any further after this week, but I suspect I may have to, since I can’t bear to think there could be something interesting lurking in some British or European archive or library that I haven’t unearthed yet.  I haven’t yet found him writing ABOUT music other than reports of a few comments to the Highland Society of Scotland and their piping contestants – but what if there was something out there that I don’t know about?  Oh, we can’t have that!

So, I’m very grateful to have been an invited speaker at the workshop, and to have been allowed an insight into the work people of other disciplines have been doing into the activities of this Highland chief, who is comparatively unknown today.  Add to that a wonderful Italian evening meal at the end of the day, which had the added novelty of Japanese saki, brought by one of our session chairs from his home country.

2019-05-27 18.37.45(And I didn’t get myself lost on public transport, thanks to Google maps – remarkable for someone with absolutely no sense of direction.  Not only that, but I found I was perfectly capable of buying beer and a bagel, coffee and a cake, en francais!  I returned to Glasgow with my head held high … )

Edinburgh, Dundee, Paris …

I’m a bit of a juggler at the moment!  The Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network has a dedicated Brio issue forthcoming in November, which I’ll be co-editing with Martin Holmes, the regular editor.  Various articles have been promised, and I need to do some writing as well.  Not to mention needing to do some book-reviews.  I have several ideas there – I need to order some books that I’ve recently come across, to decide if they’d be usefully reviewed for our music librarian audience.

I also need to revise an article for another journal – I first wrote it a couple of years ago –  to reflect the fact that the network came into being and more work has since been done.

Solvyns, Franz Balthazar, 1760-1824; The 'Charlotte of Chittagong' and Other Vessels at Anchor in the River Hoogli
Solvyns, Franz Balthazar; The ‘Charlotte of Chittagong’ and Other Vessels at Anchor in the River Hoogli; National Maritime Museum;

But before that – next week I’m heading to the Sorbonne in Paris, as an invited speaker, to talk about Sir John Macgregor Murray’s involvement in Gaelic culture and song-collecting.  The man who got a couple of passing mentions in my thesis and book, has been a major focus for historians interested in his involvement in commissioning and collecting Persian manuscripts on Indian customs and culture, whilst he was active in the East India Company’s private army.  I’ll be the only musicologist there – I’ve polished my paper within an inch of its life, so hopefully it will be of interest to scholars from a different discipline and with a different focus.  I made a page about Sir John, which you can visit if you’d like to know more about the man.

I’ve been awarded an Athenaeum Award by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, to enable me to attend the whole of the International Society of Eighteenth Century Studies conference in Edinburgh in July, where I’ll be joining a panel on paratext.  I think paratext is probably one of my all-time favourite research topics, so this is very exciting.

But to clear the decks for some serious writing about paratext, I got my next speaking opportunity all written up and timed well ahead of schedule: I’m talking about copyright and John Cage in a Pecha Kucha presentation at the CILIP Icepops seminar on copyright literacy education towards the end of June.  Writing to fit 20 slides each lasting for 20 seconds is a rather different challenge to writing a conference paper!  Here’s a hint: if you Google it, you’ll find yourself recommended to write 60 words per slide.  However, if you use a lot of long words, then this advice is not for you!!  Take it from one who [now] knows!

I’m attending the Icepops conference in Edinburgh with my librarian hat on.  In fact, I was at Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago for the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase roadshow – an interesting update – and a couple of days ago, I went to Dundee for a Rare Books Scotland meeting.  Again, I wore my librarian hat, but had the opportunity to share an update on the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network whilst I was at it.

And what else?  As I mentioned, I have a glorious idea for a new grant application … but I’ll keep that under my hat until plans are a bit more advanced….

From Stationers’ Hall to the Wider World

With my most scholarly hat on, I can announce …

I have a magnificent idea for a research project, building upon my doctoral AND postdoc work, papers I’ve written, networks I’ve been involved with, and so on. I’ve written it all down as a discussion paper – I really think it could work. Watch this space!


Chasing After Ossian: the Impossible Mission

Today, I went to the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (the successor to the Highland Society of Scotland) to explore various manuscripts in their archives.  In my search for documentation about Sir John Macgregor Murray’s Gaelic interests, I felt it only right that I should inspect these mss to see if they shed any more light on the man and his obsessions.

As well as letters by Sir John, I looked at someone else’s 1807 tour of the Highlands in search of Ossianic “reciters”.  Mr Stewart referred to himself as the “Tourist” in his list of interviews with twenty different individuals from all walks of life.  Oral history transcription never was straightforward, and poor Mr Stewart didn’t have it easy at all! When you imagine this kind of activity being pursued by a number of “tourists” over several years, as they endeavoured to prove what exactly James Macpherson had used back in 1760, it’s not too hard to extrapolate a complex picture of overlapping expeditions, and I wonder how many people got sick and tired of being interviewed, cajoled into reciting their precious repertoire, or declining more or less graciously to cooperate!

I shared some of Mr Stewart’s experiences on a Twitter stream this evening.  It’s really going off at a bit of a tangent, considering he only alluded to Sir John three times, but I was interested because of my own doctoral researches into the musical side of Scottish song collecting.

Anyway, here’s the story as it appears on Twitter:- My curated Twitter “Moment”

Incidentally, Friends of Wighton associate, harpist Simon Chadwick has shared with me some live recordings of Ossianic verse being declaimed in more recent years – I’ll share his link, and you can explore it for yourself! Early Gaelic Harp Info: Lays: Recordings

Image: ‘Ossian Relating the Fate of Oscar to Malvina’ – from The Poems of Ossian by James Macpherson -artist, William Brockedon, via ArtUK