3 Jul 2016

Scottish Studies Newsletter

Scottish Studies Newsletter
... simply Scottish Literary Studies.
One of the most comprehensive and little-known sources of material on the Scottish literary world is available in the form of the Scottish Studies Newsletter from the Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat in Mainz.

More than just a round-up of what's being published, the Scottish Studies Newsletter attempts to bring together as many elements of Scottish culture as it can, and discuss how they are brought to bear upon and within literature.

The Newsletter's editors are dedicated and not only collect and archive relevant newspaper articles, but keep  up to speed with publishing news and in particular, new media.

There are also in each issue lists of newly published material and book reviews, and although the Newsletter aims to be  comprehensive, it is restricted by what information it can gather itself.

This means that it is probably down to Scotland's grassroots and other free presses to let the SSN know what they are doing - based in Mainz as they are, the Newsletter can barely be expected to keep up with each development.
Despite this, I think  it is these  small publishing enterprises which are of interest to the Scottish Studies Newsletter, which  has made a continued study of the independence movement in recent years, a subject still at the present time absent from some of our local academic departments. In this instance, it would seem that the distance is a benefit rather than a hindrance, as the SSN has proved more thorough than just about anybody in capturing how the debate has affected literature.

As well as the printed version of the Scottish Studies Newsletter there is a  version which you are encouraged to download. A project this ambitious definitely merits the support of anyone interested in Scottish letters, and in one respect it is up to writers, readers and publishers in Scotland to keep them posted of anything new and exciting. 

While there is an emphasis on the academic and related literary theses in the SSN, this is preferable to reading about the latest initiatives from Scotland's literary bureacrats who are pleasantly absent from this publication. Another advantage of being in a foreign country, I expect, is that you don't need to share the 'literary ecosystem' with any of these individuals, who don't write, don't publish and who have still somehow formed what looks to themselves at least like their own establishment, to which not everyone is admitted.

Seen from the outside, things are always different. When  the  Scottish Studies Department at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat in Mainz considers Scottish writing, they see that which makes cultural impact and it appears thar this is always the work itself. It might seem like an obvious point, but it is production and not policy which produceth culture - so we see no mention of any of Scotland's literary bodies and organisations in here.

That leaves the Scottish Studies Newsletter as a relatively safe space in which to discuss the political issues of the day, with a comprehensive draft of links, lists and articles with which to do so. The worth of this publication in fact is that it looks at the realities of Scottish literary production, and celebrates these. This regular collection is therefore in and of itself the discussion about Scottish writing we may be looking for - and bbeamed in from abroad as it is, it stands free from any notion of literary or cultural policy.