Dr Catriona MacDonald (University of Glasgow), Professor Kirstie Blair (University of Strathclyde), Professor Gerard Carruthers (University of Glasgow) and Dr Michael Shaw (University of Glasgow) were awarded a Collaborative Research Grant in the 2014-15 round for the research project "The People’s Voice: Scottish political poetry, song, and the franchise, 1832-1918". As part of the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliment running from the 19th -21st of October the researchers are hosting a debate called The People's Voice on Friday the 20th at 3pm.
This project seeks to disinter a wide range of poetry and song in Scotland, responding to moments of agitation for reform and extension of the franchise. It examines the neglected impact that local verse culture had on Scottish politics, including songs performed in the streets, in public houses, meetings, marches, at dinners and other events. It interrogates the relationship between ‘song’ and ‘poetry’ and investigates the allegiances of political verse, exploring its relationship to regional, national, party and international identities, and the intersections of class, gender, religious and political identity that it fostered.
To enable in-depth research into key moments, the project focuses on four periods associated with the extension of the franchise: 1830-2, 1866-8, 1884-6 and 1913-18. The extensive project online data base and anthology will be launched in February 2018 to mark the extension of the vote to women.
Catriona Macdonald noted that ‘It’s important that Scottish history begins to put front and centre modes of political expression that don’t meet the conventional wisdom of the past. In recent years we have come to appreciate how the culture of politics – as much as manifestos and platform speeches – are creative as well as reflective of a political mood. Equally, this project speaks to a growing awareness in Scottish literary studies that the nineteenth century has to be reclaimed. In the past work from this period was dismissed as derivative, sentimental, poor quality. This projects shows that the popular literary culture of the Victorian and Edwardian years ought to be considered afresh.’
You can join the debate by booking tickets through the Festival of Politics website.