University of Glasgow to host major Outlander conference in 2020

LtoR: Charlie Allan and Scott McMaster of The Clanranald Trust for Scotland help

LtoR: Charlie Allan and Scott McMaster of The Clanranald Trust for Scotland helped to launch the Outlander Conference 2020 announcement at the University of Glasgow

It has been a worldwide TV phenomenon - a tale of love and historical time travel which has brought the landscape and scenery of Scotland to a new worldwide audience.

Now academics at the University of Glasgow will host a major conference next year to look at the history, customs, politics, culture, clothes and music featured in the Outlander TV series.

And the event has been given a seal of approval by the American author of the books which the series is based - Diana Gabaldon - who has also agreed to give a keynote speech at the four-day conference in June 2020.

To complement the academic programme, the University is working with partners to plan a programme of events to take place throughout the four days, events that will be open to the general public. It promises to be an exciting, vibrant and highly popular conference which will see Glasgow being taken over by Outlander fever.

Coming soon: Outlander Conference Glasgow!

UofG will host the first major international academic conference of its kind in June 2020. Author of the novels @Writer_DG will headline the programme celebrating all aspects of the #Outlander phenomenon.


- University of Glasgow (@UofGlasgow) December 6, 2019

Professor Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies (English Literature) at the University of Glasgow, said: "The globally successful Outlander series has triggered more interest in Scotland and its history than any other cultural artefact in recent years. Interest continues to grow as Outlander moves into its fifth season.

"While hundreds of fan-based gatherings and interest groups around the world promote and encourage Outlander fandom, and thousands of media articles ponder its reach and appeal, there has not yet been an event which takes an academic approach to the series and brings together the multiple areas of expertise involved in its creation.

"The University of Glasgow plans to do just this: hosting a major international Outlander conference in 2020 will offer the chance to debate, discuss and dissect the elements that make up this remarkable phenomenon."

The Outlander TV series features English nurse Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe) who falls two hundred years through time to the eve of Culloden, where she meets the Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan, recent University of Glasgow honorary graduate).

With Scotland and its history, the main focus, the series has led to a massive influx of tourists wanting to visit locations featured, including a number of sites in the city of Glasgow and the University of Glasgow, which doubled as Harvard in the third series.

Several academics at the University, from a range of disciplines, have been directly involved in the production and have played key roles as researchers, advisors and even cast members.

This has included Celtic and Gaelic Lecturer Gillebride MacMillan who played Gwyllyn the Bard. In Season 1, Gwyllyn (MacMillan) regales TV viewers with traditional Gaelic songs and tales. He also sang a song specially written by Outlander’s music composer Bear McCreary.

Mr MacMillan, who will take part in the University’s Outlander conference, said: "It has been an amazing journey since I was first cast as Gwyllyn the Bard in Outlander. It has opened huge opportunities for me, and I just love that through Outlander I have been able to bring new songs and the Gaelic language to a whole new and worldwide audience.

"I am looking forward to the conference next year which will bring all the many disciplines at the University of Glasgow together to look at Outlander from an educational and academic perspective. I am also looking forward to welcoming the author of the Outlander book series Diana Gabaldon to the University."

Also taking part in the event will be charity the Clanranald Trust for Scotland, an educational organisation established in 1995. The members of the trust are dedicated to promoting increased awareness of Scottish Culture and Heritage through interactive education and entertainment. Members of the trust have appeared and acted as advisers on Outlander.

The Outlander Conference will take place at the University of Glasgow from 2 to 6 June 2020. More details on the Outlander Conference here - www.outlanderconfere­

Among the topics to be discussed at the conference will be:

  • Scotland and the world
  • Scottish culture: Celtic identity, clans, Gaelic language, translation
  • Everyday life: costume/fashion, textiles
  • Folklore: storytelling through song and poetry
  • Medicine: herbalism, surgery, nursing
  • Politics: Franco-Scottish relations, Jacobitism, union, independence, nationalism, monarchyWarfare: battlefield archaeology, Culloden, weaponry, military history
  • Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, melodrama, adaptation
  • Women’s studies, feminism, sexuality
  • Media consumption: streaming, television, screen policies
  • Cultural impact and legacy of the series

Related Links

  • Profesor Willy Maley - research profile
  • Gillebride MacMillan - research profile
  • Outlander Conference website
  • Clanranald Trust for Scotland - website

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