The First Scottish Enlightenment: Contract Signed!

It’s a real pleasure to write that as of last week I’ve signed a contract with Oxford University Press for The First Scottish Enlightenment: Rebels, Priests, and History, with a manuscript due-date of spring 2018.  Going into the second book project I felt as if I understood the process much better than when I was working on The Antiquary, but that hasn’t stopped the thrill of signing the contract from being just as intense!

I’ve written about The First Scottish Enlightenment elsewhere, but to recap: I’ll be arguing for a Scottish Early Enlightenment which principally consisted of historical and antiquarian scholarship and which was centered on the Episcopalian and Catholic communities of the north-east.  It is – I hope – a slightly controversial thesis, but also one that desperately needs to be made if we’re to understand early modern Scottish culture on its own terms.  I’ll be looking at a variety of printed and archival sources – notebooks, letters, pamphlets, scholarly folios, not to mention a certain number of paintings, coins, charters, genealogical trees, and similar art historical delights – and will be focusing (if you can call it that) on thirty-seven academics, printers, priests, soldiers, opera singers, landed gentlemen, poets, bureaucrats, and physicians active between about 1680 and 1750.  Most have never been the subject of academic study before now, but a few names are at least familiar in specialist circles: James Fraser (1634-1709), Alexander Gordon (c.1692-1754), Thomas Innes (1662-1744), Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (1636/38-1691), and Thomas Ruddiman (1674-1757), to name a few.

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A detail from the flourishing family tree of the Earls of Wigtown, one of the visual sources I’ll be discussing in the new book.

Now all I have to do is actually finish writing the book, somewhere in between teaching, admin, doctoral supervision, and life outside of academia.  When I was writing The Antiquary I found it tremendously encouraging to read the blogs of other scholars working on their books, not having moments of inspiration high in the ivory tower, but plugging away methodically and thoughtfully in between the other obligations of an academic career.  Over the next year and a bit I’m hoping to provide some encouragement (or at least amusement) in turn by writing a running commentary on the book and how it’s progressing.  For a start I can say that I haven’t worked on it at all since Christmas – too many other deadlines have been pressing – but that will hopefully change fairly soon.

Stay tuned . . . .

Copyright © 2017 Kelsey Jackson Williams

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