MAKING IMAGINED THINGS: The 2nd International Alasdair Gray Conference, Across Space & Form – An Introduction

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WHAT IS MAKING IMAGINED THINGS: THE CONFERENCE?

This is going to be a two-day, interdisciplinary conference held in Glasgow in the summer of 2021, on June 10th and 11th. The theme is ‘Across Space & Form’, with the intention being that we put together an interrogation of Gray’s various works that explores Gray’s literary and visual archives, both independently of each other but also in conversation with each other. Full details will be available soon, along with a series of suggested topics for papers. We want to work with writers, academics, artists, curators, fans, critics, those influenced by Gray and/or his contemporaries, to make a genuinely dynamic, enjoyable interrogation of Gray’s various creations. As well as critical responses, a future Call for Papers will also invite creative responses to Gray’s work, as well as hybrid, creative-critical responses. As well as the main academic conference, there will be a public event of cross-arts creative responses to Gray’s works, on the same weekend as the conference. Details to follow.

We want this project to be meaningfully, genuinely diverse, so we are particularly interested in hearing from those who can make the conference more so. That means fully representing women, people of colour, international friends across nations, cultures, languages and traditions, as well as involving the LGBTQ+ communities. The more diverse we are, the better the conference will be. 

Cowcaddens in the Fifties, by Alasdair Gray, 1964

WHO IS THE ORGANIZING COMMITTEE?

Convener:
Dr. Rodge Glass, Reader in Creative Writing, Edge Hill University
Co-Organizers:
Sorcha Dallas, Alasdair Gray’s Art Agent
Prof. Marie-Odile Hedon, Professeur de Litterature Britannique Contemporaine, Aix-Marsielle Universite, France
Prof. Camille Manfredi, Professeur de Littérature Ecossaise University of Nantes, France
Petra Pugar, Doctoral Researcher, University of Zagreb, Croatia (Research Network Co-Ordinator)

Prof. Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow

As well as those named above, we already have commitments from various academics in Switzerland, Italy, England and Scotland, as well as declared interest from writers and artists on both sides of the Atlantic. If you or your institution would like to be involved, please get in touch with me direct at glassr@edgehill.ac.uk for the latest. The Twitter account for the project is @ImaginedMaking, my own personal Twitter account is @rodgeglass.

MAKING IMAGINED THINGS: Committee Members

Clockwise from Top Left: Sorcha Dallas (AG’s art agent), Prof. Marie-Odile Hedon (University of Aix-Marseille), Petra Pugar (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Prof. Camille Manfredi (University of Nantes), Prof. Alan Riach (University of Glasgow)

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO DO WITH ALASDAIR GRAY, RODGE?

Alasdair is important to me. As a student, Gray was my tutor while I was working on what eventually became my first novel, No Fireworks (Faber, 2005). Then I became his secretary, working with him on multiple projects over several years. This was my education as a writer. I saw at first hand how Gray worked, something I then documented in Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography (Bloomsbury, 2008), an unorthodox book which was part-traditional walk through the life and works, part-multi-portrait of the artist as an old man. This was unashamedly subjective, but interrogative too. The book won a Somerset Maugham Award for Non-Fiction in 2009, after which I returned mostly to writing fiction, though I’ve continued to publish chapters and articles on Gray since. In 2012 I attended the 1st International Alasdair Gray Conference at the University of Brest, France, organized by Camille Manfredi. A book followed, Alasdair Gray: Ink for Worlds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and several of us involved in that book discussed pursuing a follow-up conference one day. Five years later, here we are. In the interim, things have changed. The conference could have happened anywhere, but given how visible Gray’s work is in the landscape of the city he has spent his life documenting, it makes sense to host this conference in Glasgow. So let’s make it happen.

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HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

There are numerous ways you can get involved if you’re interested. We are looking for –

  • Potential academic partners
  • Funding from external bodies
  • Individuals, organizations or institutions who can help ensure the conference and associated activities are genuinely diverse
  • Individuals interested in helping to organize and run the conference
  • Individuals who can spread the word about the conference and associated events through their own networks, either professional or personal
  • Individuals who are interested in getting involved, either as writers, artists, filmmakers or musicians, in the creative evening planned on the weekend of the conference
  • Individuals, organizations, galleries or institutions who are interested in exhibiting Alasdair’s work around the time of the conference
  • Individuals, organizations, galleries or institutions interested in holding events, workshops or one-off events between now and 2021 that could be linked to the conference

If you feel you can contribute in any way, shape or form, please get in touch. Meanwhile, we are also setting up a new International Alasdair Gray Research Network, a critical hub for all things Gray, which you can find out more about here.

So far, we have official partners in the Universities of Aix-Marseille, Nantes, and Edge Hill University.

WHAT IS MAKING IMAGINED THINGS – THE BOOK?

This is a book which I planned to edit jointly with Sorcha Dallas, Alasdair Gray’s art agent, who is now part of the organizing committee for this conference. Intended to be a series of critical, creative and personal responses to Gray’s visual practice, with individuals responding to particular portraits, landscapes, murals, illustrations and sketches, we were partway through putting this together when the publisher it was contracted to, Freight Books, went under in 2017. As part of the conference plans, I would like to resurrect this book idea, with the intention of sourcing work produced for the conference as potential material for a future volume of critical, creative and personal responses.

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Thanks for reading. This page will be updated when the project has developed further. Meanwhile, you know how to get in touch. 

Thanks

Rodge, July 2019

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