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Name: Thomas Black

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title: Celtic Britain: Writing National Identities from 1640-1725


Thesis Description:

My thesis explores the construction and experience of cultural and national identities in an Irish-Scottish context from 1640-1725. I engage with literature in Classical Gaelic, Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Latin, and various forms of English. This polyglot approach is reflective of the material realities of the period, and allows the research to explore the experience of identity on the terms of those who were writing. The period is one of great constitutional and cultural change and key political, religious, and culture factors played a major part in shaping individuals' and communities' experience and sense of identity. A key strand of this research is the manifold connections and divergences between Irish and Scottish Gaels in this period and embedding that within analyses of the developments in the Kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland themselves. Alongside this there is analysis of the cultural and ethnic integration (or otherwise) in the respective kingdoms. The research is structured to provide parallel readings of literature produced around key historical moments for the Archipelago and advances the case for reading Ireland and Scotland in tandem on a myriad of issues such as culture, religion, Britishness, empire, postcoloniality. This is embedded in the structure of the work which comprises two chapters on Scottish and Irish experiences of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, two chapters on the Williamite-Jacobite wars of 1688-91, and a final chapter on 1700-1715 which surveys Irish and Scottish responses to Union, Jacobitism, and new cultural movements in the United Kingdom. This research is timely as it seeks to uncover multi-stranded and contested formulations of British identities, and comes at a time when ideas of “Britishness” and “British values” are being socially and politically questioned.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Adam Rounce, Dr Nicola Royan, University of Nottingham; Dr Sebastian Mitchell, University of Birmingham.


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

year 2018

  • Presented at the  "12th Forum for Research on Languages of Scotland and Ulster".  University of Glasgow.


year: 2017

Other Research Interests:

  • Postcolonial literature
  • Kingship and republicanism in early modern Britain
  • 20th century Irish literature
  • Romance literature
  • Literatures of utopia
  • Reception of classical literature
  • Neo-Latin poetry
  • Jacobitism
  • Pastoral literature


University email address:


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