Course: Reclaiming the Roots: Indigenous Scottish Highland Culture and Tradition

Intermediary Level: For people keen to understand the indigenous culture and traditions of the Scottish Highlands from its own point of view. It is assumed that participants will be familiar with a basic framework of Scottish history as presented in the Introduction course. Knowledge of the Gaelic language will be beneficial but is not required.

Registration now closed (Current class runs Thursdays 25th March – 29th April 2021, 8PM – 9:30PM EST).

Deepen your understanding of and commitment to Scottish Highland heritage during the era of the “clan system,” including indigenous Gaelic understandings of human ecology and relationship to land. The course will engage with materials that implicitly and explicitly articulate the norms of Gaelic social structures, perceptions of landscape, and belief systems that relate to the human-land-preternatural symbiosis.

This is not a Gaelic language class, but we will necessarily encounter and engage with Gaelic terms and texts, usually in English translation.

This course will invite you to compare and contrast the values, beliefs and practices of anglo-modernity with these traditions and the implications of these differences.

Details about how the courses are designed and how they work are on this webpage.

What We’ll Do

Stone Sculpture of medieval West Highland warrior.
  • Understand native Gaelic notions of identity and the divisions between Highlands and Lowlands in Scotland.
  • Examine the social structure and norms of the Highland “clan system”: social roles, the exercise of power and obligations, gender roles, feasting, and notions of the common good.
  • Explore the function and authority of Gaelic literary tradition in the cultural and social order, genre categories, the social registers of literature, and the role of oral literature in Highland folk life.
  • Recognize the range of “supernatural” beings in indigenous Gaelic belief systems and how cosmology (of which landscape and place are inherent aspects) is reflected in language and serves the interests of human and environmental needs.
  • Appreciate how landscape and a sense of belonging inform Gaelic identity, are reflected in naming practices, play important roles in Gaelic literature, and relate to the lore of certain species of “supernatural” beings.
  • Have online discussions in a private FaceBook group (you will be accepted as a member if you try joining after you have paid for the course).

Course Texts

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