The Re-Emergence of Celtic Studies (and this blog)

The first day of spring (at least in the modern Gregorian calendar as we know it) seems like as good a day as any to start this up again. I have to admit, as much as I like keeping this blog, the writing-up year of a PhD is not a great time for starting new projects, and I already have so many! I think aiming for a post a week, and the CFP round-up when there are things to post for it, is a reasonable goal for now? Of course, WordPress has changed the interface around since the last time I was at this, but I think I’ve now defeated it and found the ‘No really I will do my own coding just let me type in the HTML as I want it’ section.

Anyway, I’m just back from the Inaugural Meeting of the Association of Celtic Students of Britain and Ireland. (Despite the name, students of Celtic Studies from around Europe and pretty much anywhere are all welcome to be part of it. If you are one such, and not already involved, go find it on Facebook and join in.) This is a new organisation that stemmed from the University of Edinburgh‘s efforts to save their school of Scottish Studies, the holdings of which were under attack–as are, frankly, most Celtic departments these days.The objective is to get Celtic Studies students together, further academic dialogue, and provide a network for supporting the field.

The conference went well despite some technical difficulties–a power outage knocked out all the electricity in the postcode EH1 just before 10 in the morning, at which point a few brave presenters who didn’t need to use PowerPoint read their papers in the dark while one of the staff members hunted for a new building. This meant enough of a delay that Q&A was cut out entirely, so everyone gave their 15-minute presentation and then hurried on to the next one. The papers encompassed a wide variety, from ecofeminism in the Táin Bó Cúailnge to a discussion on the evolution of Manx surnames. The Edinburgh crew–Christopher, Chrissie and Déirdre as the steering committee, as well as the rest of their members–were excellent hosts, and put together an excellent programme on a shoestring budget.

The keynote speaker was Dr John MacInnes, whose speech covered his experiences in the study of folklore over the decades and was captivating. I could absolutely have listened to him tell stories all afternoon (or at least until the rugby kickoff).

At the afternoon AGM, the venue was voted on for next year’s conference (which will be here at Prifysgol Aberystwyth) and the new committee elected from delegates from there: Jacob Ellis is the new President, with James January-McCann and Kirstie DeKrey as new Secretary and Treasurer respectively (all from the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies). Next year’s conference will be tied in with a Celtic Festival, funded by grants from the Welsh Assembly and the Coleg Cymraeg Genedlaethol, planned for next summer. I won’t be a postgrad anymore by the conference, of course, but fully intend on going along to support them.

Despite the power outage and the ‘welcome to Scotland in springtime’ blizzard, all our delegates had a great time. My only regret is that my flatmate and I decided against bringing home a set of bagpipes with which to torment the loud neighbours.

(It was proper snow! This was out the train window as we were leaving.)


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