Reading Scotland

Join us at our Virtual Scotland Library!

Scotland Hub’s ‘Reading Scotland’ is a virtual community bringing together Germans and Scots and all who have an interest in Scottish life and literature.

In our winter term 2021/22, the Scotland HUB at Mainz University will continue with our Walter Scott 250 focus and give a platform to our own researchers. Watch this space!


Summer Term 2021

For the Walter Scott 250th anniversary, we have devised a special programme of readings and discussions devoted to Scott.

Programme: Reading Scott with...

In this section, you can find information on past sessions as well as audio recordings of each session.
© All rights reserved.

13 July 2021
Reading Scott with Stuart Kelly

Stuart Kelly
Stuart Kelly is a Scottish critic and author. Next to his most recent novel The Minister and the Murderer (2018), his works include The Book Of Lost Books: An Incomplete Guide To All The Books You’ll Never Read (2005) and Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented A Nation (2010) (which was longlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. In our (virtual) Scotland Library, he will be reading from his work The Minister and the Murderer (2018).
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15 June 2021
Reading Scott with Lee Simpson

Lee Simpson
Lee Simpson is a member of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club committee and has been the Hon. Treasurer of the Club since 2003. Originally working in IT, Lee is now a wedding DJ and photographer. In his talk, he will tell us about his work for the Scott Club, the history of the Club and its achievements. Additionally, he is going to give insight into his own connection to Scott that came about 25 years ago.
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The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club Website

18 May 2021
Reading Scott with members of the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and the University of Aberdeen
The importance of Scott for ...

Paul Arant
Paul Arant is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Aberdeen. His PhD thesis is on transnationalism and national identity in the works of Walter Scott. His talk is on "Guy Mannering, a novel whose popular appeal belies a literary complexity and enduring relevance. The novel was a bestseller upon its publication due to the intrigue, romance, high drama and action that entertained audiences, while the intertwined fates of its diverse cast, in both nationality and ethnicity, reveals a narrative that questions our understanding of place and identity".
Rosa Ciminello
Rosa Ciminello studied at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz and the University of Edinburgh. Her talk is on "The Heart of Midlothian, which is important to me because of Scott's impressive historical interpretation, contrasting cultural attitudes and legal systems as well as dialects".
Leonie Jungen
Leonie studied at JGU and the University of Edinburgh where she specialised in Scottish Literature, Ethnology and Creative Writing. In her Master's thesis, she discussed, amongst others, Scott's importance for the gendering of Scottish national identity. Her talk is on "The Bridge of Lammermoor which is important to me because it centres around Scott's engagement with Scotland's gendered intensity and status within the UK. Due to the rising support for Scotland's independence attempts in post-Brexit Britain, his novel remains timeless and important".
Ainsley McIntosh
Ainsley McIntosh is volume editor of 'Marmion' (2018) and 'Rokeby' (forthcoming) for the Edinburgh Edition of Walter Scott's poetry. She is currently Research Fellow at the Universityof Aberdeen's Walter Scott Centre. Her talk is on "Marmion which is important to me because it showcases Scott's genius, his imaginative engagement with history, and his centrality to Romanticism".
Chaired by Ali Lumsden and Sigrid Rieuwerts
Ali is a Professor of English and Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen where she directs the Walter Scott Research Centre. She has published on many aspects of Scottish writing including Nan Shepherd.
Sigrid is the Commissioner for Scotland at JGU Mainz and teaches in the English Department. She was educated at the universities of Giessen, Lancaster and Mainz and was awarded fellowships at the universities of Riga, York, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
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20 April 2021
Reading Scott with Sigrid Rieuwerts
Scott – Made in Germany

Priv-Doz. Dr Sigrid Rieuwerts is the Commissioner for Scotland at JGU Mainz and teaches in the English Department. She was educated at the universities of Giessen, Lancaster and Mainz and was awarded fellowships at the universities of Riga, York, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Her teaching and research interests are in Scottish literature and culture, especially ballads. She is the author of a book on cultural narratology (Kulturnarratologie), and the (co-)editor of more than a dozen books, among them Ballads into Books: The Legacies of Francis James Child; The Ballad Repertoire of Anna Gordon, Mrs Brown of Falkland and Unter der dünnen Mondsichel: Gedichte aus Schottland (2020). Her first critical edition of Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border for Edinburgh University Press is forthcoming. Her talk is on 'Scott - Made in Germany. Flyer download

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Winter Term 2020

Are you a Scotland fan? Have you been to Scotland? Or are you wanting to go?
And what do you associate with Scotland? Are you reading any books about Scotland?
Or can you name more than three Scottish authors?
Are you aware that there is a Scotland Library on our campus?
If not, our project Reading Scotland is for you!
We, Margun Schmitz and Rosa Ciminello - assisted by Priv.- Doz. Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts and supported by the Gutenberg Lehrkolleg - would like to invite you on Tuesday evenings (6.00-7.30pm CET) to our (now virtual) Scotland Library at JGU Mainz. Each week we will recommend texts to read and have an author or academic discussing his or her work with us. A wonderful way to explore Scotland's literature, history and culture together! Don't you think? Do come and join us! Every Tuesday we will have a guest talking about literature and/or films and/or Scottish culture, some are Scottish authors, others are academics working on Scottish literature and still others are just Scotland fans. Think of it as a grade and pressure-free, enjoyable book club!


Programme: Reading Scotland with ...

In this section, you can find information on past sessions as well as audio recordings of each session.
© All rights reserved.

9 Feburary 2021
Reading Scotland with Steve Byrne
The Importance of Place – Dig Where You Stand

Steve Byrne
Steve is a folklorist, singer, and researcher from Arbroath on Scotland's east coast, best known for his work with the award-winning folksong band Malinky.
He is a graduate of Scottish Ethnology from the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University and has worked in various cultural roles over the past 20 years. He has been Traditional Arts Officer for the city of Edinburgh, cataloguer for the folklore sound archive digitisation project Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches, a community educator through the organisation Local Voices, and led the adult education traditional music teaching project Scots Music Group for almost a decade. He is a native Scots speaker and advocate for minority languages with a European perspective. In 2019, he was named Scots Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. Steve will discuss how place and locality has shaped his work as a performer, community educator, activist and academic. Through poems, songs, archives, workshops and advocacy for local language, he will outline his personal philosophy of 'Dig Where You Stand' - seeking to encourage others to do the same, wherever they are.

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2 February 2021
Reading Scotland with Rainer Emig
“Yr Hen Ogledd/The Old North – Early links between Wales and Scotland and their modern afterlives”

Rainer Emig is Chair of English Literature and Culture at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. He was educated at Frankfurt am Main, Warwick, and Oxford, and taught at Cardiff, Regensburg and Hanover. His research focuses on 19th- to 21st-century literature and culture. His publications include Modernism in Poetry (1995), W.H. Auden (1999) and Krieg als Metapher im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert (2001) as well as edited collections on Stereotypes in Contemporary Anglo-German Relations (2000), Ulysses (2004), Gender <-> Religion (with Sabine Demel, 2008), Hybrid Humour (with Graeme Dunphy, 2010), Performing Masculinity (with Antony Rowland, 2010), Commodifying (Post-) Colonialism (with Oliver Lindner, 2010), and Treasure in Literature and Culture (2013). In our (virtual) Scotland Library, he will cover the Early links between Wales and Scotland and their modern afterlives.

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26 January 2021
Reading Scotland with Dietmar Böhnke 
Screening Scotland – Scottish Film and the Representation of Scottish Identities

Are you a fan of Outlander, Brave, Trainspotting or Braveheart? What about Brigadoon and Whisky Galore? Have you ever heard of the cinematic traditions of Tartanry, Kailyard or Clydesidism? Is there a Scottish film industry? Do you want to discuss your (least) favourite Scottish film? This talk will introduce the broad field of film representations of Scotland by outlining some important thematic traditions and stereotypes, and then focus on a few selected examples of films from the 1990s to the present (possibly including Young Adam, Ae Fond Kiss, Stone of Destiny, Neds, Sunset Song, and the recent Mary Queen of Scots) in order to debate how Scotland and Scottish identities are represented there, by whom and for which audience.

Dietmar Böhnke is Senior Lecturer in British Cultural Studies at the University of Leipzig, as well as Study Abroad coordinator at the English Department. His research interests include Scottish literature and culture, especially of the present; the Victorian Age and its contemporary rewritings; book history (esp. Tauchnitz); and the British media, especially film. He has published various articles on these topics, as well as two books on contemporary Scottish authors: James Kelman (Berlin 1999) and Alasdair Gray (Berlin 2004). Most recently, he co-authored a book on the nineteenth-century publisher Bernhard Tauchnitz (Leipzig 2017). He also occasionally works as a presenter/interpreter of readings by high-profile contemporary writers (e.g. John Burnside, John M. Coetzee, Teju Cole, Howard Jacobson, Rachel Kushner, Deborah Levy, Tim Parks). In 2005, he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. In our (virtual) Scotland Library, he will be talking about Scottish films.

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19 January 2021
Reading Scotland with Meg Bateman

Meg Bateman
Meg Bateman is a Professor of Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye (University of the Highlands and Islands). She learned Gaelic in South Uist and Aberdeen University where she taught for many years. Her teaching and research interests are in literature, philosophy, language, art and Gaelic mythology. She has co-edited four anthologies of historical Gaelic verse and has published several volumes of her own poetry. In our (virtual) Scotland Library, she will present her most recent academic book Window to the West: Culture and Environment in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd (2020).

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Meg Bateman and John Purser: 

Window to the West: Culture and Environment in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd

Window to the West / Uinneag Dhan Àird an Iar


12 January 2021
Reading Scotland with Dr Wolfgang Funk
Artful Connections – Ways of Looking at/in Ali Smith’s How to Be Both

In this presentation Dr Wolfgang Funk will talk and think about one of the most intriguing novels of the 21st century – Ali Smith’s How To Be Both. After briefly introducing the author and her various claims to literary fame, he will try to offer a reading of the novel which focuses of two central issues: First he wanst to think about the unusual narrative situation in the book, which interlinks two apparently free-standing storylines – one set in Renaissance Italy, the other in contemporary Britain – while leaving the reader ultimately free to draw their own connections between them. Having thus established the topic of connectivity, which he will briefly situate in an aesthetics of (post-)postmodernism, he will then shift the focus to the role of art in the novel, arguing that the incorporation of various kinds of art(works) both in storylines and in the layout and design of the book facilitates an innovative form of connection, between author, text and novel, but also between the ‘sister arts’ of literature and painting.  

Interview with Ali Smith about How to Be Both in the Guardian

Dr Wolfgang Funk
Dr. Wolfgang Funk is currently Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. He studied English, German and History at Universität Regensburg and has taught at Regensburg, Hanover and Leipzig. He is currently working on a post-doc project on late Victorian women poets and their use of evolutionary imagery. His other current research interests include the New Formalism, the representation of artificial intelligence, questions of authenticity in contemporary fiction as well as fictional representations of Brexit. He has published articles on Bryony Lavery (2007), Jasper Fforde (2010), Martin McDonagh (2010), Dave Eggers (2011), Jez Butterworth (2011), Hilary Mantel (2013), Peter the Wild Boy (2015), May Kendall (2015), Max Müller (2016) and Louisa Sarah Bevington (2017). He is the co-editor of Fiktionen von Wirklichkeit: Authentizität zwischen Materialität und Konstruktion (2011) and The Aesthetics of Authenticity: Medial Constructions of the Real (2012). His Ph.D. thesis, The Literature of Reconstruction: Authentic Fiction in the New Millennium was published with Bloomsbury in 2015 and has been awarded the ESSE First Book Award in 2016. He is also the author of An Introduction to Gender Studies (in German; utb, 2018).

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22 December 2020
Reading Scotland with Dr Sally LK Garden
Time travelling in Scotland’s song

What does it mean to read Scotland as a singer? To turn the soft yellowing pages of your native Scots song literature and give voice to the past? Where will you find yourself, what landscapes will you see, what language hear, and emotions feel? And how far can you journey beyond the page, and beyond what others, if they have said anything at all, have said about the page, and deep into your own reading? Mezzo-soprano and recitalist, Sally Garden, shares her personal artistic experience as a traveller in the space and time of Scotland’s song.

Dr Sally LK Garden
Dr Sally LK Garden (mezzo-soprano and musicologist) was born in Angus, north east Scotland, and was educated at the Universities of Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt, and Edinburgh. Performing under the banner ‘Mons Graupius’ (a playful borrowing from Tacitus!), her portfolio includes international collaborations, festival appearances, concert promotion, publishing, editing, recording, new media work, and composition. Best known for her interpretations of Scottish and Scandinavian art song, she has given recitals in concert halls, castles and kirks all over Scotland, appeared in island and mountain-top venues in Norway, and enjoyed the honour of performing at Grieg’s villa, Troldhaugen. Her formal postings and affiliations include work on The Music of Scotland publishing project at the University of Glasgow, three years as Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre, Dundee, and an Honorary Research Fellowship at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen. She is currently a member of the Walter Scott Minstrelsy Project (JGU), working on classical settings associated with the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders.

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15 December 2020
Reading Scotland with Karine Polwart
Singing with Scottish Landscape - Folksong, Folklore, and Ecology

For the next session on Reading Scotland, we have invited artist Karine Polwart who will be doing a combination of reading, talking and singing. The main projects she will talk about are COP 26 in Glasgow, A Pocket of Wind Resistance, and Spell Songs. She will also tell us about her journey into writing as a folk musician.

Karine Polwart
Karine Polwart is a Scottish singer, composer, theatre-maker, storyteller and writer. Much of Karine’s music and writing is steeped in place, hidden histories, scientific curiosity and folklore. As a singer and songwriter, she is a multiple award winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including three times for her original songs. She has written to commission for theatre, animation, radio documentary and choir. In 2019, her Scottish Songbook celebration of Scottish pop music reached the UK Top 40 Album Charts. Karine’s debut work for theatre Wind Resistance was produced in collaboration with the Royal Lyceum Theatre for the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival. The show is rooted in the landscape, ecology, and history of Midlothian and The Scottish Borders. Enough is Enough is her latest large-scale participative commission, for street bands and community choir, centred on the COP26 Climate Conference which Glasgow hosts in November 2021.

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To visit her webpage click here!

Listen to her work here


8 December 2020
Reading Scotland with Alison Lumsden & Wayne Price

For the fourth session of our virtual Scotland Library,Reading Scotland, we have invited Alison Lumsden and Wayne Price. Alison is Professor of English and Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen where she directs the Walter Scott Research Centre. Wayne is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen. Wayne will introduce and read from his work Fossil Record (2015), while Alison will introduce and talk about Nan Shepherd. The reading and introduction will be followed by a discussion and a Q&A.

Ali Lumsden
Ali is Professor of English and Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen where she directs the Walter Scott Research Centre. She has published on many aspects of Scottish writing including Nan Shepherd.

Wayne Price
Wayne Price was born and brought up in south Wales but has lived and worked in Scotland since 1987. He has published short stories and poetry in many journals and anthologies in the UK, Ireland, Australia and America and has won major prizes in numerous international competitions including the Edwin Morgan International, the Bridport, the Yorkshire Open and Poetry on the Lake. He was a finalist in the Manchester Poetry Prize in both 2013 and 2104 with the short folios Nightfishing and Prayer. His first collection of stories, Furnace, was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor Prize and nominated for the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year 2012. His debut novel, Mercy Seat, was long-listed for The Guardian’s ‘Not the Booker Prize’ in 2015. He teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Aberdeen.


Listen to Alison Lumsden's Talk:

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Listen to Wayne Price's Reading:

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1 December 2020
Reading Scotland with Malachy Tallack

For the third session of our virtual Scotland Library, Reading Scotland, we have invited Malachy Tallack, a writer and singer-songwriter from Shetland. Malachy is the author of three books, which focus on the connections between people and places. Sixty Degrees North (2015), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award; The Un-Discovered Islands (2016) won an Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award; and The Valley at the Centre of the World (2018) was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize. Malachy will introduce and read from his work, and the reading will be followed by a Q&A.

Malachy Tallack
Malachy Tallack is an award-winning author and singer-songwriter. His first book, Sixty Degrees North (2015), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and his second, The Un-Discovered Islands (2016), was named Illustrated Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. His most recent book, The Valley at the Centre of the World (2018), was his debut novel. It was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize and longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. Malachy is from Shetland and currently lives in Dunblane.

Both Sixty Degrees North and The Valley at the Centre of the World are due to be published by btb Verlag in 2021.


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Visit his official website to find out more
Malachy Tallack at btb

24 November 2020
Reading Scotland with Andrew Crumey

This is our second session to our Virtual Scotland Library: Reading Scotland! For our second session today we have invited Andrew Crumey, a Scottish author. He will read to us from his latest work The Great Chain of Unbeing and will also be available for a Q&A afterwards. Furthermore, he will talk about his inspirations and other things that have influenced him and his unique style.

Andrew Crumey
Andrew Crumey born 1961 in Glasgow, studied at the University of St Andrews and is an author, schoolteacher, a Doctor of Physics and the former editor of “Scotland on Sunday”. His novel Sputnik Caledonia (2008) has been shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Award and won him the Northern Rock Foundation Writers’ Award in 2006. Among his works is Music in a Foreign Language (1994), Pfitz (1995), D’Alembert’s Principle (1996), Mr Mee (2000), Mobius Dick (2004), Sputnik Caledonia (2008) and The Secret Knowledge (2013). For Reading Scotland, he will draw on his most recent book, The Great Chain of Unbeing (2018) which was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Award.

No presentation available

Visit Andrew Crumey at Dedalus Books
Andrew Crumey at Northumbria University


17 November 2020
Reading Scotland with Tony Freeth
Beyond Hadrian's Wall – The New-Scot Experience

What view do people south of Scotland’s border hold about the country? How do they perceive the relationship between Scottish and English culture and everyday life? How different exactly is life north of England’s border? To explore these questions and more through a lived experience we have invited Tony Freeth. He will give students insight into a non-Scot view of Scotland. As an Englishman living in Scotland, Tony Freeth will offer his unique perspective on his favourite works of Scottish fiction and how they relate to his experience of Scotland.

Tony Freeth (BSc Eng Hons (Sussex), MBA(Heriot-Watt)) is an engineer and entrepreneur who recently retired from corporate life to spend more time on research. His professional experience started in Nuclear and Biomedical science but has spent the last 25 years on developing Internet technology for commercial and community applications, most recently coworking. Tony comes from Cornwall or Kernow, which is the most southerly outpost of the Celtic fringe. He has, though, adopted Scotland as his home and nationality. He believes practising engineering without literature is to travel without a map. Also known to have used the term ‘dialectic’ to a conference of real estate investors and yet survived.

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