Outlander triggered more interest in Scotland than ‘any other cultural artefact in recent years’

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The historical roots of the hit television series Outlander and its cultural impact on Scotland will be examined in the first major academic conference of its kind next year.

The University of Glasgow will host the Outlander Conference 2020 in June with the history, customs, politics, culture, clothes and music featured in the phenomenally successful television series which is based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon.

Professor Willy Maley said interest in Scotland "continues to grow as Outlander moves into its fifth season".

Professor Willy Maley said interest in Scotland "continues to grow as Outlander moves into its fifth season".

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Ms Gabaldon will deliver a keynote speech at the event, which is expected to attract interest from around the world.

Glasgow University said the city was likely to be taken over by 'Outlander fever' as the celebration of the show gets underway, with a programme of Outlander-themed events being devised to compliment the conference.

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Professor Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies (English Literature) at the University of Glasgow, 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.”

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The Outlander TV series features English nurse Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe) who falls 200 years through time to the eve of Culloden, where she meets the Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan, a recent University of Glasgow honorary graduate).

With Scotland and its history, the main focus, the series has led to a massive influx of tourists wanting to visit locations featured, including a number of sites in the city of Glasgow and the University of Glasgow, which doubled as Harvard in the third series.

The cultural impact of the show will also be examined at the show, as well as its legacy given the huge numbers of visitors it has attracted to Scotland and the swell in numbers of those visiting key sites linked to the show.

Several academics at the University, from a range of disciplines, have been directly involved in the production and have played key roles as researchers, advisors and even cast members.

This has included Celtic and Gaelic Lecturer Gillebride MacMillan who played Gwyllyn the Bard. In Season 1, Gwyllyn regales viewers with traditional Gaelic songs and tales. He also sang a song specially written by Outlander’s music composer Bear McCreary.

Mr MacMillan, who will take part in the University’s 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.

“I am looking forward to the conference next year which will bring all the many disciplines at the University of Glasgow together to look at Outlander from an educational and academic perspective. I am also looking forward to welcoming the author of the Outlander book series Diana Gabaldon to the University.”

Also taking part in the event will be charity the Clanranald Trust for Scotland, an educational organisation established in 1995. The members of the trust are dedicated to promoting increased awareness of Scottish Culture and Heritage through interactive education and entertainment. Members of the trust have appeared and acted as advisers on Outlander.