Rachel Stamford

News Editor

Academics at the University of Glasgow will host a four-day conference in June on the popular US television series Outlander, attended by the books' author.

Outlander follows English nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) who travels 200 years back in time and falls in love with Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). The show has led to a massive influx of tourism in Scotland, including to the University of Glasgow. 

Academics at the University are interested in engaging with cultural industry professionals to further examine the show's major themes including Scottish culture and heritage; Gaelic culture; Jacobitism in the 18th century; international relations; politics and warfare; time travel; feminism; media production, consumption and representation; screen policies and screen tourism.

The Outlander Conference Glasgow 2020, hosted by the University of Glasgow, will include academic panels with workshops for both academic researchers and the general public. The University is also working with partners to plan a programme of events during the conference, including a keynote speech by Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.

University of Glasgow professor of Renaissance Studies, Willy Maley, 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.”

Several University of Glasgow academics across multiple disciplines have been involved with the production, research, advising and even casting throughout the series. Celtic and Gaelic lecturer Gillebride MacMillan played Gwyllyn the Bard, and sang traditional Gaelic songs in season one.

MacMillan, who will attend the 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."

Clanranald Trust for Scotland, an educational charity dedicated to promoting increased awareness of Scottish culture and heritage, will also be in attendance. Members of the trust have both advised and were casted in the series.

Last year Heughan received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow's Dumfries campus in recognition of his "artistic success and his charitable work."

The conference will be held from 2 to 6 June 2020. Ticket sales will be posted on the official website. Academic researchers interested in contributing to the conference can download the Call for Papers until  31 January 2020.

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