Professor Leith Davis

Digital Scholarship Visiting Research Fellow
Professor Leith Davis

Professor Leith Davis

Digital Scholarship Visiting Research Fellow, May-August 2021

Biography

Leith Davis (@LeithDavis) is a professor in the Department of English and Director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of Acts of Union: Scotland and the Negotiation of the British Nation (Stanford UP, 1998) and Music, Postcolonialism and Gender: The Construction of Irish National Identity, 1725-1875 (Notre Dame UP, 2005), as well as co-editor of Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge UP, 2004), Robert Burns and Transatlantic Culture (Ashgate, 2012) and The International Companion to Scottish Literature in the Long Eighteenth Century (forthcoming, ASLS); her digital humanities projects include Reconstructing Early Circus and Scottish Voices from the West. Her new book, Mediating Cultural Memory in Britain and Ireland: From the 1688 Revolution to the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion (forthcoming, Cambridge UP), examines media change and cultural memory in the British archipelago from 1688-1745.

Project: Networking Jacobites: Robert Forbes’ ‘Lyon in Mourning’ Manuscript

In September, 1745, Episcopalian minister Robert Forbes was arrested and imprisoned while on his way to join Charles Edward Stuart’s Jacobite army. Upon his release in May, 1746, he began to compile ‘for the Instruction of future Ages’ what would become a 10-volume manuscript which he called ‘The Lyon in Mourning.’ ‘The Lyon in Mourning,’ held in the National Library of Scotland (Adv.MS.32.6.16-26), consists of eye-witness interviews, letters, poems, songs and speeches concerning those who had been involved in the events of the Rising.

This project combines archival research with twenty-first-century digital humanities tools in order to shed new light on ‘They Lyon in Mourning’ as a complex site of cultural memory and an act of data-collection and networking in its own time. I draw on recent insights into eighteenth-century media culture to situate Forbes’s manuscript within a mediascape in which print was taking a dominant role in relation to more traditional forms of media, and I employ Cultural Memory Studies to consider the ways in which Forbes’s manuscript worked to inscribe entangled Jacobite memories, some of which also circulated in alternative mediations. In addition, I utilize digital humanities tools in order to visualize and analyze social network and geospatial data about Forbes and his informants. The project also involves the creation of a network of contemporary scholars who will bring different disciplinary perspectives to bear on the manuscript in order to comment on its continuing importance as a site of national memory. In addition, working with the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab @DHIL and a team of students, I utilize digital humanities tools in order to visualize and analyze social network and geospatial data about Forbes and his informants.