The Bottle Imp is published twice-yearly, with a supplement issue published in March. If you would like to know as soon as each new edition is available, you can add your email address to our mailing list.
Scottish Island Writing, Part 1: the Hebrides
'Scottish Sociability: The Literature of Clubs and Societies' (Supplement 4, March)
Papers presented by members of the Scottish Literature Discussion Group at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in January 2017
Not of the Race of Adam: Scottish Fairies,
Fairies — the Little People, the People of Peace; the Sigrave;th; the Tuatha dé Danaan — are an interstitial race. They lurk around the edges, on the borderlands and in the margins, and out the corner of your eye … Scotland is blessed with more peripheries (and peri-fairies) than most other nations, so it's no surprise to find their tracks scattered across this country's stories, and laced into its history.
Century Notes: Naomi Mitchison Special Issue
How does one do justice to a writer who lived for over a hundred years? Who witnessed almost every single day of the entire twentieth century, with over eighty books and an uncounted number of articles and essays to her credit? Who, over and above her own literary achievements, helped shepherd into print titles as various — and influential — as J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and James Watson's The Double Helix? One could begin, perhaps, by remembering not to forget her.
'The Scottish Fetish: Beyond the Kilt' (Supplement 3, April)
The Bottle Imp supplement is a Spring publication dedicated to papers presented by members of the Scottish Literature Discussion Group at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention. The session topic for 2016 was 'The Scottish Fetish: Beyond the Kilt'.
Watching Us, Watching You: Scottish Spies and Thrillers
This issue, The Bottle Imp gets political. We've got our ear to the ground, but you never know who's listening …
The Lie of the Land: Ecology and Scottish Writing
Scotland is the land of the Scots. To what extent are the Scots the people of the land which bears them? Landscape settles into language, hills and lochs and stones are built up into stories. Moods shift like wind on water: clouds scud, sun gleams, snow falls, ice cracks. Environment informs us, infuses us: quite literally, from our bones on up, it is the making of us. In this issue, we go for a stravaig into Scotland — Caledonia stern and wild, that fairyland of poesy, deer on high hills, shipyard, kailyard, fernie brae and all — in search of its natural heart.
'Scottish Literature: Into the Great Unknowns' (Supplement 2, March)
The Bottle Imp supplement is a Spring publication dedicated to papers presented by members of the Scottish Literature Discussion Group at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention. The session topic for 2015 was 'Scottish Literature: Into the Great Unknowns'.
Unwept, Unhonoured, and Unsung: Sir Walter Scott Special Issue
It has become fashionable, of late, to point out that the novels of Sir Walter Scott are scarcely read, now; to remark that few would willingly pick up Waverley, let alone give shelf-space to Peveril of the Peak (it killed Prince Albert and it can do the same for you). But — controversial, I know — might there be a tad more to Scott than everything we already know about him, having never read him? He did more-or-less invent the historical novel, after all. And his stuff was popular. I mean, wildly popular, from Siberia to Alaska and back round again the other way. […]
Their Knife in Your Glands: Medicine and Scottish Literature
The Scots have a peculiar relationship with medicine. On the one hand, we have pioneered many of the most important developments in medical science: world-shaking highlights include, but are by no means limited to, the clinical trial; the general anaesthetic; the hypodermic syringe; penicillin; beta-blockers; ultrasound scanners; full-body MRI; the Glasgow coma scale; and apoptosis. On the other, we might consider the deep-fried Mars bar; alcoholism; and the phrase "just an ordinary sword". It is remarkable that so much effort has been expended in the fight against sickness and untimely death by a nation whose people sometimes seem to pursue those ends with such wanton abandon. Scotland's medical schools blossomed in the Enlightenment, and Scottish doctors and surgeons came to dominate the field. It's not surprising, then, that there should be such an overlap in Scotland between leeches and letters.[...]
'Independent Thinking: Scotland's Inscription of Separation'
The Bottle Imp supplement is a new Spring publication dedicated to papers presented by members of the Scottish Literature Discussion Group at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention. The session topic for 2013 was 'Scottish Studies After Cultural Studies', and the topic for 2014 was 'Independent Thinking: Scotland's Inscription of Separation'.
I'll tak' it to avizandum: Scottish Crime and Criminal Justice
Scotland's Law and Scotland's Literature cohabit within the larger realm of Scottish Letters, and there is an extensive overlap from the one to the other—Scott, Galt, Stevenson, Buchan, to name but a few, all at least took training in the law, before turning out their more literal fictions (there are perhaps fewer who make the trip the other way). [...]
As Others See Us
The Scots are oddities, there's no denying it: the most reliably peculiar inhabitants of the British Isles, blessed with a plethora of shibboleths, a host of identity tags from kilts and cabers, haggises and havers, to Whisky Macs and heart attacks and MC1R on chromosome 16. The blood is strong, and it's all over the place. This issue is a tale of viewpoints, privileged and otherwise: join us as we dash past the funfair mirrors of other peoples' opinions, to seek out where Scotticism meets Exoticism.
The Only Art is to Omit: Robert Louis Stevenson Special Issue (Issue 12, November)
Stevenson — widely celebrated in his lifetime, and in the years following his untimely, early death — suffered an artistic eclipse in the aftermath of the First World War. Perhaps, like Sir Walter Scott, he was too associated with that prelapsarian Victorian age, too much a favourite of the old men; perhaps as well he failed to fit within the modern structures of literary criticism being raised in clean concrete on the ruins of the nineteenth century. A minor writer, a purveyor of sea-stories, of boys' adventures; not fit for adult consideration, among the bakelite and aspidistras of last century's avant-garde But times have changed, and are changing still. The odd half-baked opinion aside, Stevenson is now receiving the recognition his life and work deserves. Strongly, proudly Scottish, and at the same time international, a world writer and writer of the world, Stevenson is an artist whom few can equal. …
The Outward Urge: Scottish Travel Writing
Are we Scots more naturally adventurous, then? Going a-roving and a-reiving have been Scottish specialities, celebrated in poetry, prose and song, since the days of Dál Riata. We have breenged, wambled and jouked across the globe, for god, king, and country, fun and profit, romance, revenge, science and spite. High roads and low roads, we've taken them all, and got in there early, too, most times. The first bootprints on the moon belonged to an Armstrong: no surprise to those who know the folk of Liddesdale. In this issue, The Bottle Imp sniffs out the trail of some of our nation's greatest wanderers.
Tartan Nation: Ethnicity and Scotland
Tartan makes a good blanket term to drape across Scotland, this country which it has colonised for its own. Our warps and wefts cut over and under each other, threads running down through history and across geography: green and gold, black and white, red white and blue; woven by time and far from finished yet. Bloodlines mix and mingle, peoples shuttle in and shuttle out; diasporas loom large. In this issue, The Bottle Imp takes on issues of ethnicity and notions of nationality, and looks to tease out some home truths, and waulk the line between fact and fancy.
This issue, The Bottle Imp inflates its lungs, throws back its head, opens its mouth and belts one out – or rather, several, as we wax lyrical about Scotland's songs. Music, song and literature have always intertwined, of course, and nowhere more so than here. Perhaps it's the bardic tradition, or the close-grained friction between the oral and the written cultures – Scottish writers and musicians have been crossing over each other for a very long time …
Beam Me Up, Sir Walter! Scottish Science Fiction
This issue The Bottle Imp seeks out strange new worlds and scans new event horizons as we boldly go in search of Scotland's speculative fictions. Who knows what we will find? Parallel worlds and multiple antisyzygies; terrifying futures and the poetry of space: it's a big universe, after all …
Tell Us a Story … Scottish Children's Writing
For this issue, The Bottle Imp pokes its nose into the world of children's literature – that strange country where every work is in translation. Scotland's books are no strangers to controversy in this field, from accusations of racism directed at Helen Bannerman's Little Black Sambo to accusations of Satanism aimed at J K Rowling's Harry Potter books. There are other forms of censors, too: we shall find one peculiar to this corner of the world, planted not in a pulpit but instead behind the eyes, lodged within the heads of Scotland's children.
The Uncanny Scot: Scottish Gothic
Readers of a nervous disposition, turn away! This issue of The Bottle Imp pursues the spectre of the Gothic. Naught but ruined towers, blasted heaths, and cold wastes lie within. Scotland takes the Gothic to heart, and it is engrained in our literature. Hardly a single Scottish writer is wholly free from its cold fingers. Stevenson was so wrapped up in it he couldn't keep it out, even from his Boys Adventure stories; think of Treasure Island's Israel Hands, or the strange, disturbing 'Tale of Tod Lapraik' which lurks between the pages of Catriona, waiting to pounce on the unwary reader …
Consciously created, maintained in the teeth of North Britishness, preserved in poetry and song, in literature and sporting rivalries, the Scottish national identity is a curious beast. It is a mixture, an amalgam, formed of lumps and lights and broken pieces, spiced and dressed and crammed around inside itself, running around the bens and glens. In this, fifth issue of The Bottle Imp, we open up the creature for a thorough investigation, warm-reekin, rich …
Scottish Writing as History
Thomas Carlyle called history "the true epic poem and universal divine scripture". Henry Ford called it "mostly bunk". Between these two philosophies hang the histories of literature, and the literatures of history. Scotland is steeped in one, and drenched in the other; the perfect place for The Bottle Imp to probe the debateable borderlands between the fictional, the factual and the actual.
Believe it or not: Scottish Writing and Religion
This issue, The Bottle Imp braves thunderbolts and assaults the very jaws of Hell itself, as we roll an eye towards Religion. Perhaps here we'll find at least one root of our distinction: undoubtedly this one runs deep indeed, and often crooked! But we'll pull on it and see what might spring up?
Westward Ho! Scottish Adventurers
In this, our second issue, we range far and wide, crossing oceans and exploring literary polities both real and imaginary. Clyde-built, The Bottle Imp sails forth once more into the seething waters of the world-wide web: we hope you have a pleasant voyage!
Welcome to the first edition of The Bottle Imp, the Scottish Studies ezine of the Scottish Writing Exhibition. Why The Bottle Imp? The name, of course, is stolen from one of Stevenson's short stories. As a symbol of Scotland's ability to see beyond itself, to go outside its borders – whether for honour, or for glory, or for riches, or even just for the climate – it seemed appropriate. We hope that we, too, might contain something surprising!