james mcgonigal
Poet  •  Critic

Contact  James McGonigal

Every stage of editing offers its own particular pleasure—defining the scope of a volume, contacting possible contributors, ordering and refining the contents, deciding on cover and layout, and even the final proof-reading. The company of co-editors is also affirming, and seldom frustrating. Editing offered me a change of pace from workaday writing, to which it often ran parallel or at a tangent. It helped me to explore areas of academic interest, or to respond to trends or gaps in Scottish cultural life.

British Modernism

I contributed to two books edited by Cedric Barfoot at the University of Leiden. He ran several critical series for Editions Rodopi, based in Amsterdam, and suggested that I might bring together critics and poets who shared my interest in British modernist poetry. Two books followed:

(1995) Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound. Alexander, M. and J. McGonigal (eds). Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi.

Contributors included: Michael Alexander, William Cookson, Robert Crawford, Donald Davie, Peter Davidson, Robert Davis, Douglas Dunn, Roy Fisher, W. N. Herbert, James McGonigal, Edwin Morgan, Peter Russell, Charles Tomlinson.


(2000) The Star You Steer By: Basil Bunting and British Modernism. McGonigal, J. and R. Price (eds). Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi.

Contributors included: David Annwn, Richard Caddel, Roy Fisher, Victoria Forde, Harry Gilonis, Ian Gregson, Philip Hobsbaum, Parvin Loloi, James McGonigal, Richard Price, Glynn Pursglove, Harriet Tarlo, Gael Turnbull, Jonathan Williams, William Wootten.


Scottish and Irish Literature

With ancestral roots in Moray and Banffshire, Tyrone and Donegal, I am interested in how Scottish and Irish cultures intersect in literature. I have been a member of Council of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and edited their annual New Scottish Writing for several years:

(1994) A Sort of Hot Scotland: New Writing Scotland 12. Kennedy, A.L. and J. McGonigal (eds). Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

(1995) Last Things First: New Writing Scotland 13. Kennedy, A.L. and J. McGonigal (eds). Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

(1996) Full Strength Angels: New Writing Scotland 14. Jamie, K. and J. McGonigal (eds). Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

The Association for Scottish Literary Studies is one of the few academic publishers in Scotland to have Scottish literary critical and textual work as a key focus. The lack of Scottish publishing outlets for new academic work on Scotland’s literary and linguistic culture does not reflect well on the country. Yet my experience of producing critical work for Rodopi showed that academic publication could be managed, so long as profit was not a motive.

So I worked with John Corbett of Glasgow University and Sarah Dunnigan of Edinburgh University to set up SCROLL (Scottish Cultural Review of Language & Literature). Over the years we have been assisted by younger academics as production editors. Two of them later joined the editorial team: Rhona Brown and Ronnie Young, both of Glasgow University. Retiring from full-time university work in 2009, I became an associate editor.

Since our first volume in 2004, we have published a further 26 by established and younger academics from Scotland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and the United States, with others in progress. I co-edited one of these:

(2006) Ethically Speaking: Voice and Values in Modern Scottish Writing. McGonigal J. and K. Stirling (eds). Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

In 2014 Rodopi merged with Brill, the Dutch academic publisher, bringing an even wider range to Brill’s highly-regarded work in the humanities, social science and law.

You can view the SCROLL titles at its website.

Other edited work on Scottish and Irish literature has included:

(2002) My Mum’s a Punk: New Scottish Writing for Schools. Breslin, T., J. McGonigal and H. Whyte (eds). Dalkeith: Scottish Children’s Press.

(2000) Scottish Religious Poetry: From Columba to the Present Day. Crawford, R., M. Bateman and J. McGonigal (eds). Edinburgh: St Andrew Press.

(2000) Across the Water: Irishness in Modern Scottish Writing. McGonigal, J., D. O'Rourke and H. Whyte (eds). Glendaruell: Argyll Publishing.