HARC Seminar Series 2023-24
The Strangeness of Angels: more than just a plot device in the Acts of the Apostles and its interpretation?
- 15 September 2023
- Prof Mark Elliot
The Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book in the New Testament is not short of other-worldly phenomena. From the Ascension of Jesus through the clouds in the first chapter, to the event of Pentecost in the second, to the appearing of the heavenly Jesus to Saul who would become St Paul in the ninth, to the apostle Peter’s receiving a vision of ‘unclean’ animals in the eleventh – the book is replete with the ‘supernatural’. This paper shall consider the 12th chapter where is narrated Peter’s being delivered from prison by means of an angel.
Prof Mark Elliott
Mark W. Elliott, FRSE, was schooled in Glasgow. For university he went to read Law at Oxford, then he studied Divinity at Aberdeen and gained his PhD in Patristics at Cambridge University. He then taught at the universities of Nottingham, Liverpool Hope and St Andrews (from 2003-18) then Glasgow University (2019-22), and now at the University of the Highland and Islands (Highland Theological College) where he is Professor Biblical and Historical Theology His recent projects include History of Scottish Theology (co-edited with David Fergusson, published by Oxford University Press, 2019) and Providence: Biblical and Theological with Baker (2020), and Psalms 42-72 (ITC: Bloomsbury, 2023). He was co-chair of the History of Interpretation Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature (2015-21) and editor of the Mohr Siebeck Series, History of Biblical Exegesis.
Tolkien’s Green Knight
- 28 September 2023
- Dr Ian Blyth
The Green Knight’s chapel and Tom Bombadil’s Old Forest are both distinctly ‘strange’ spaces, and they reflect back their respective historical presents in familiar/unfamiliar ways.
Dr Ian Blyth
Dr Ian Blyth is a lecturer in Literature and Philosophy at UHI Inverness, and the programme leader for Literature at UHI. His research interests include mediaeval Arthurian literature (c. 600 - 1400), the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, James Macpherson’s Ossianic translations in the 1760s, environmental philosophy, and the representation of nature in science fiction, fantasy, and myth from the early classical period to the present day.
Stranger or neighbour? Just how 'other' were 'Viking' burials in Scotland?
- 19 October 2023
- Dr Shane MacLeod
This paper will provide an overview of Viking burial sites in Scotland, highlighting the diversity in burial forms, locations and contents. Some of the burials provide hints of the different funerary rituals employed. Advances in scientific techniques have demonstrated that the individuals in these burials came not only from Scandinavia, but also from other parts of Britain and Ireland, making 'Viking' communities a melting pot of different cultures, including that of local populations.
Dr Shane MacLeod
Dr Shane McLeod is originally from Australia, where he completed his PhD on The Beginning of Scandinavian Settlement in England: the Viking ‘Great Army’ and early settlers, c. 865-900 (published by Brepols in 2014) in 2011 at The University of Western Australia. He was an Impact Research Fellow at the University of Stirling 2013-2015 working on the landscapes of Viking burial sites in Scotland. He started at the Institute for Northern Studies in 2022.
Marked Graves and Unmoored Ghosts: Remembrance and Forgetting in Inverness
- 2 November 2023
- Dr Paul Shanks
This seminar will focus on built up and ruined space in Inverness and the ways that certain sites (abandoned, ruined, reconstructed) can provoke uncanny conjunctions in personal and collective memory. Discussion will focus initially on Culloden Battlefield, a ‘site of memory’ (according to Pierre Nora’s definition) that is celebrated and supported as part of Scotland’s National Heritage Industry. The seminar will draw upon the concept of ‘hauntology’, as coined by Jacques Derrida, Nicolas Abraham’s ‘notes on the phantom’, and Mark Fisher’s discussion of the ‘eerie’.
Dr Paul Shanks
Dr Paul Shanks is a lecturer in Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at Inverness UHI. He has previous experience with helping facilitate several community-based creative writing initiatives in Inverness (including HUG Action for Mental Health, Highlife Highland, and Glints of Gold/ NHS Highland). He was chair of Highland LIT from 2017-20. As a practising researcher, he has published work on twentieth century and contemporary Irish, Scottish and European literature. His current research and creative practice is focused on cultural, historical and personal memory in Inverness and the wider Highlands.
A Lens Between Worlds: masks, bodies, and animals in Early European Prehistory
- 16 November 2023
- Dr Ben Elliot
Conventional understandings of the capacities and affordances of masks have dominated discussions of the roles they play within past societies. Yet this Western gaze often struggles to account for the diverse forms of human, animal and therianthropic forms represented within the corpus of parietal and mobiliary art of the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. The ambiguity of these forms often coalesces around depictions of the head, and are complemented by traditions of head and facial adornment within the early human burial record. This paper will explore the potential of anthropological approaches to masks and mask wearing for reframing our understanding of the mutability of bodies within Europe’s earliest societies, and the radical implications these hold for the configuration of the worlds within these societies were situated.
A new societal perspective on minority language protection
- 25 January 2024
- Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin
Coherent language protection and promotion initiatives are of vital relevance to minority-language survival. Whilst economic, geographic, demographic, and socio-political factors are crucial to successful language protection and promotion at a macro level, positive factors influencing the primary aspects of language vitality, i.e., acquisition, socialisation, ethnolinguistic identity, and praxis, are crucial at a micro level.
This paper aims to present a new conceptual framework by which we can interpret the various social elements contributing to minority-language social dynamics. Four phases of socialisation (primary, secondary, civic reinforcement, and processes of collective coherence) are indicated in the social dynamic, and the influence and interaction of key groups of social participants (identified as minority; majoritarian; tangential and neo-cultures) on the outplay of the dynamic in society are demonstrated. The analysis underlying this new conceptualisation examines: a) the implications of minority-language promotion with insufficient language protection, and b) the influence of the minority-language policy and planning framework on the social dynamics of the minority group. It is contended in the paper that minority language protection is more likely to be successful when it adequately aligns and addresses the core aspects of the actual reality of minority social dynamics.
Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin
Conchúr Ó Giollagáin is the Gaelic Research Professor in the University of the Highlands and Islands and the director of the UHI Language Sciences Institute, which hosts CIALL - the Collaborative Interdisciplinary and Applied Linguistic Links project. CIALL continues the legacy of the Scottish inter-university research project Soillse, while firming up community links and international partnerships. In 2022 Conchúr was appointed as a Visiting Professor at Ulster University.
Conchúr is a prominent scholar in language planning and minority language culture and sociology. He has written extensively on issues concerning the sustainability of minority cultures, especially the Gaeltacht communities in Ireland.
‘The Strangeness of Angels: more than just a plot device in the Acts of the Apostles and its interpretation?’ - Mark Elliott
Tolkien’s Green Knight - Ian Blyth
‘Stranger or neighbour? Just how 'other' were 'Viking' burials in Scotland?’ - Shane MacLeod
A Lens Between Worlds: masks, bodies, and animals in Early European Prehistory - Ben Elliot
‘A new societal perspective on minority language protection’ - Conchúr Ó Giollagáin