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Leading Scottish historian to discuss Scotland’s sense of identity
Date: 1 February 2000
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The leading Scottish historian Professor Tom Devine will examine the myths and beliefs that have identified Scotland over the last century and a half at a lecture in Aberdeen next week (Tuesday, February 1).
Professor Devine’s lecture, Scotland the Brave: Interpreting Scotland’s Identity, is the first in a major series, Talking Scots, organised by the University of Aberdeen to mark the new Millennium.
Prof Devine, Director of the University’s Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, will discuss the view that the idea of Scotland as we know it today was actually born in the Victorian era, when some had confidently predicted the cultural dissolution of the nation within Great Britain.
“I will be looking at how and why a coherent sense of ‘Scottishness’ survived nearly three hundred years of close political, economic and cultural association with England, which for much of the period was one of the world’s most powerful states,” he said.
“Some Scottish intellectuals of the later eighteenth century were convinced that with the new partnership with England forged in 1707 would come the inevitable ‘death of Scotland’. A wide body of opinion expected Scotland as a nation to become invisible within the Union and Empire and the ancient land north of the Cheviots to emerge as ‘North Britain’.
“Indeed, not only were the
pessimists proved wrong, but many of the orthodox symbols, icons and badges
of modern Scottish identity were actually invented and popularised in the
nineteenth century when Scottish nationalism was at its weakest and the
Union universally accepted. The lecture will explore this paradox and try
to explain why it came about.”
Professor Devine will also touch on the fact that in recent years, Scotland’s sense of identity has become much stronger and that Scots now feel more “Scottish” than “British”, due in part to a much enhanced interest in Scotland’s history, culture and heritage.
“The coming of the new Parliament took place against a background of increasing national confidence and a flourishing of Scottish music, art, writing and film-making,” he said.
“Some commentators argue that this strengthening of identity could have dramatic political consequences for the future as a resurgent Scottish nation demands even greater control over its own destiny than that presently on offer through the devolution settlement.”
Prof Devine’s lecture will be the first in the six-part series, which includes lectures by some of Scotland’s most distinguished thinkers, who will share their views on Scotland’s future. They are: Edinburgh University Vice Chancellor Sir Stewart Sutherland; the Very Rev Gilleasbuig Macmillan, Minister of St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh; The Rt Hon Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General of Scotland; Sir Ian Wood, Chairman of Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Arts Council chairman Magnus Linklater.
The lecture will take place on Tuesday, February 1, at 7pm in King’s Conference Centre. It will be followed by a wine reception. Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained from the Public Relations Office on (01224) 272014, or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email email@example.com.