Major Outlander conference to be held at University of Glasgow in June 2020

06 December 2019
The University of Glasgow has today (17 March 2020) announced that the Outlander Conference Glasgow 2020 has been cancelled.

UPDATE 17 MARCH 2020. The University of Glasgow today announced:

We are sorry to announce that the Outlander Conference Glasgow 2020 is cancelled. This follows a decision made by the University of Glasgow regarding international conferences to be held at the University in the coming months in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although we are saddened by this news, we fully support the decision of the University to protect the health and safety of its academic community and of you, our conference guests. We apologise for the inconvenience this decision might cause to some.
While no firm decision to postpone the conference can be made at this stage, we, the committee, will do our best to seek solutions to see the Outlander Conference Glasgow take place in the future.

Any further updates will be shared on our website and sent via the present mailing list. 

The event has been given a seal of approval by the American author of the books which the series is based – Diana Gabaldon – who has also agreed to give a keynote speech at the four-day conference in June.

To complement the academic programme, the University is working with partners to plan a programme of events to take place throughout the four days, which will be open to the general public. 

A global success

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. 

This digital guide from the publishers of History Scotland celebrates the popular TV series and books, and tells the real story of the Jacobites and their fight for the crown. Download here.

“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.”

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

Academic involvement

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 (MacMillan) regales TV 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 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.