University of Edinburgh 13-14 July 2017,

with an associated event at Little Sparta, 15 July

This two-day symposium will explore new critical and interdisciplinary perspectives on the Scottish poet, artist and avant-gardener Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006). As Finlay’s reputation worldwide continues to grow a decade after his death, we wish to ask searching questions about the boundaries of his practice, its philosophical, political and cultural dimensions, and its legacies and affinities across a range of media, disciplines and geographical boundaries. A number of attendees will also have the chance to visit Finlay’s poet’s garden at Little Sparta in the Pentland Hills for an event in its new workshop space.


Susan Stewart, Princeton University
Stephen Bann, University of Bristol
Drew Milne, University of Cambridge

Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Finlay and late modernism(s)
  • Little Sparta and ecology
  • Finlay and poetics, including objectivist/concrete/visual/new-media poetics
  • Finlay and visual/conceptual art
  • Finlay in context: encompassing movements/milieus/cultures; associated figures
  • Finlay and the political, including Finlay as revolutionary/counter-revolutionary, Finlay and the French Revolution, Finlay and the Third Reich
  • “Flytings” and “Battles” as aspects of avant-garde practice
  • Finlay as collaborator/Finlay’s collaborators
  • Finlay and European romanticism
  • Finlay and the (nuclear) sublime
  • Neo-classical and pre-Socratic re-armaments
  • Finlay and (inter)nationalism
  • Finlay and Northern Renaissances
  • Wild Hawthorn Press and small-press publishing as creative practice
  • Finlay and landscape architecture/garden design
  • Ongoing and contemporary creative responses to Finlay’s work

250-word abstracts for twenty-minute papers and 500-word abstracts for full panels/round-tables will be accepted by the organisers Greg Thomas and Alex Thomson at until 10th March 2017. However, participants are asked to respond with expressions of interest as soon as possible. For up-to-date event and attendance fee details visit our website.

This event is supported by the British Academy.

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