Saints and Sinners: The Double Life of Edinburgh: A Six-Part Course with Dr. Jenny Litster

Saints and Sinners: The Double Life of Edinburgh: A Six-Part Course with Dr. Jenny Litster


Regular price $210.00 Save $-210.00
/

Loading...
Only -9 items in stock!
No events are scheduled at this time. Want to be notified when it’s back? Leave your email address and we’ll notify you.
Want to book this event privately? Send us an inquiry.
Something went wrong while submitting your request, please try again later.
Your request has been sent, you'll be notified of future dates.

Scotland is an exceptional small country: exceptional in its rugged grandeur, in the richness of its history and culture, in the quality of its whiskey and the pride of its inhabitants – “Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re aw deid!” Edinburgh, shadowed by a castle on a crag and an extinct volcano, is Scotland’s seat of government and law, a center of learning and literature, its beauty a draw to visitors from around the world.

But Edinburgh, as Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “leads a double life”. The New Town’s neoclassical architecture gave rise to the name “the Athens of the North”, the dirt and smoke from its Old Town chimneys earned it the sobriquet “Auld Reekie”. In six lectures, this course will journey through Edinburgh’s highs and lows as we explore the capital’s contradictions: martyrs and murderers, artists and anatomists, preachers, and potentates, grand-dames, and grave-robbers. This course is designed for anyone with an interest in Scotland, its history, its culture, and its people – whether you can trace your ancestors back to the Highland clans, plan to visit Scotland in the future, or just want to explore the narrow streets and dark tales that crisscross its capital.

Lecture 1: From settlement to disunion

Edinburgh was first inhabited in the Mesolithic Age; Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements scar the Castle Rock. In 2020, the city is home to around half a million people, the Scottish government sits in a new parliament building at the foot of the Royal Mile, and its Old and New Towns are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This first lecture will establish the timelines of Edinburgh’s past and its people against the backdrop of Scottish and English history and beyond.

Lecture 2: Mary Queen of Scots got her head chopped off

In 1125 King David I of Scotland flitted from Dunfermline to Edinburgh, setting up the royal court on Castle Hill where he built a chapel to his mother that can still be visited today. In the 1600s Edinburgh Castle was all but abandoned by the Scottish Kings, as were the “Honours of Scotland”, the nation’s crown jewels. This lecture will look at shifting power and allegiance in this turbulent history, as played out in the streets of Edinburgh, where Scots fought the English, Stewarts were pitted against Douglases, and the Church came in conflict with the Crown.

Lecture 3: The Rise, and Rise, of the City

Compacted and hemmed in by defensive walls and swamps, carved onto a crest of hard volcanic rock, the buildings of Edinburgh’s Old Town are said to have been the world’s first skyscrapers, rising up to twelve stories high. All life took place within these city walls, each tenement a melting pot of rich and poor, mercantile and idle, lawful and lawless. This lecture will chart the growth of the medieval city along its High Street of churches, prisons, and tollbooths, through the narrow alleyways, the closes, that stretch north, and south. A tale of trade and riot, palaces and plagues, festivities, and fire.

Lecture 4: Edinburgh in the Age of Enlightenment

It was said of Edinburgh in the eighteenth century, that one could stand at the city’s market cross and in “a few minutes take fifty men of genius by the hand”. Scotland in the 1700s led the intellectual world – in moral philosophy (David Hume), economics (Adam Smith), sociology, geology, engineering, medicine. This lecture will look at how Edinburgh shaped the Scottish Enlightenment and how the city transformed from an overcrowded, crumbling slum to the acme of Georgian grandeur in its wake.

Lecture 5: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!"

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is set in London, but Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of the struggle between good and evil is a quintessentially Edinburgh tale. Stevenson’s work was greatly influenced by Deacon William Brodie, famous in Edinburgh for being “gentleman by day, burglar by night”. In this lecture, we will look at literary Edinburgh and trace its stories to the shifting cultural identity of its people. From Sir Walter Scott and his Romantic Highland adventures, through Hogg and Burns, Stevenson and Spark, to Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin, discover Edinburgh through the writers who made Edinburgh the first UNESCO City of Literature.

Lecture 6: Haste Ye Back

Edinburgh is the second most visited place in the United Kingdom (after London); every August (except 2020) the population of the city doubles as culture vultures arrive for the Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Fringe events, and the Military Tattoo. The final lecture in this series will bring us full circle to the Edinburgh of today. How did the city develop in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? And what does its future, so tied to tourism, now hold?

Born and raised in the Scottish Borders, Jenny moved to Edinburgh in the late 1980s to study History and English Literature. She later completed a Ph.D. on the Scottish context of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery at the University of Edinburgh, where she also taught American History. Jenny worked in adult education research and policy at the Institute of Education, London for over a decade, living in Edinburgh and traveling regularly to Europe. Her main interests lie in Scottish literature, culture, and folklore and in children’s books. She has two daughters.

How does it work?

This is a six-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in Scottish history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $210 for 6 lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis. 

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
P
P.O.
Jenny Lister's session titles!
P
P.O.
Dr. Lister leads us through "Embur!"

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
P
P.O.
Jenny Lister's session titles!
P
P.O.
Dr. Lister leads us through "Embur!"