Scottish Shores is a research project emphasising Scottish coasts and littoral environments, which, like others around the globe, are fleeting spaces very vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and prominent in literary and artistic representation (Gothic and otherwise). Yet Scotland’s shores are marginal in critical discussions of Scottish Gothic literature as well as in debates about anthropogenic climate change. Our conversations will explore how the Gothic is a vital, productive thinking tool that can help us accept a damaged world and the actions necessary for living in it, and use Scotland as a launch point for thinking about shores globally. Ultimately, we hope understanding amongst scholars and public audiences of the importance of the Gothic’s role in representing coastal zones in a time of ecological crisis compounded by the politics surrounding tackling the effects of climate change. 

Scottish Shores is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The project is led by Dr Emily Alder and Dr Giulia Champion. Contact us at and find us on Twitter @Scottish_Shores.

Check out a blogpost by Professor Timothy C. Baker contributing to this research project here.

The project’s research questions are:

  • What, if any, are the defining characteristics of a Gothic shore in literary and cultural representation?
  • What is unique about Gothic representations of Scottish coasts? What are the similarities and differences between Scottish shores and those of other UK and global shores, and what approaches have been taken to researching them?
  • What does attention to Gothic shores do for understanding Scottish literature? What does it complicate, enrich, or disrupt about national identity and mythmaking, Scotland’s place in the UK and on the Atlantic fringe, or understanding the local significance and vulnerability of specific shores and communities amid the threats of climate change?
  • How can the Gothic as a mode of cultural production register the impact of anthropogenic climate change on Scottish shores and littoral communities? How does it, along with the Arts more broadly, help translate this impact?
  • Can the Environmental and Blue Humanities fields and methodologies be informed by and themselves inform Gothic scholarship? Where do these fields, that may seem different, overlap or yield the ways they actually are importantly connected?
  • Can we reassess the Gothic as both an analytical approach and representative mode to probe its positive, forward-looking, productive qualities, disturbing as they might be?

Scottish Shores investigates these questions through a series of three workshops, and ends with a public engagement event in early 2023.

Workshop I took place on 23 May 2022, see more here.

Workshop II took place on 17 September 2022, see more here.

Our Virtual Symposium “Casting off” took place on 6-7 December 2022, see more about the event here. Recordings for registered delegates are available here.

Check out our Public Engagement event entitled “Scottish Shores: Folktales of the Coast”, an evening of tales of spooky shores with Orkney storyteller Tom Muir, which took place on 6 March 2023, on this page of our website, here.