Event: PhD researcher to talk about Scotland’s Esperanto literary history

The next meeting of our youth wing ‘Movado Junulara Skota’ will be held on Friday 30th April at 7.30pm on Zoom. Unlike most of our other events, this event will be in English.

Link: https://zoom.us/j/93456143196?pwd=RUJTRDN4Sm00cmVGMk9vMk5venY5UT09

The password is the name of our international language.

James Barrowman, a PhD researcher based at the University of Dundee, has agreed to give a talk about two intriguing 20th century Esperanto authors from Scotland entitled ‘Searchlights Probing the Evening Clouds: A.D. Foote and Albert Goodheir’. Here are some further details provided from James:

The Dundee-based poet Arthur Dawson Foote published two English poems in a 1976 edition of Eco-logos: ‘The Volapükists’ and ‘The Esperantists’. According to their preface, each poem is meant to describe a different kind of ‘millennial faith, one succeeding and one not’. By depicting both Esperanto and Volapük in precise religious terminology, Foote emphasises the scriptural origins of universal languages and their relationship with shifting contemporary attitudes towards organised religion. In doing so, Foote forges a connection with another notable proponent of Esperanto in Scotland, the former Church of Scotland minister Albert Goodheir. Upon closer inspection there are a number of comparisons to be made in regards to the lives of Foote and Goodheir, as well as their use of Esperanto.

Both writers utilise spiritual language while remaining openly conflicted over their faith, with Goodheir leaving the church as a ‘shepherd who has lost his flock’. Both writers were active and outspoken in regards to mental health, Goodheir as a worker in a psychiatric hospital and Foote as a sufferer of mental health problems who was repeatedly institutionalised. Considering Goodheir’s experiences in the Dutch Resistance, it could be said that both writers developed an interest in Esperanto as an unburdened language of expression for their trauma. Finally, both Foote and Goodheir operated in environments where their identities were unusual and complex – Foote as an Oxford-educated Englishman in a Scots-speaking Dundee defined largely by its industry and Irish immigration, Goodheir as a Dutchman operating within the Church of Scotland on the Gaelic-speaking island of Tiree before settling down in Coatbridge, another town notorious for heavy industry and Irish settlement. It is worth noting that within the Scottish literary scene Dundee, North Lanarkshire and the Inner Hebrides are already marginalised areas, so Goodheir and Foote were only further alienated from the mainstream by their exile status and use of Esperanto.

I will undertake a comparison of Arthur Foote and Albert Goodheir, investigating their approach to Esperanto literature and their place in the wider Scottish literary scene. In doing so, I will utilise Foote’s archival material held at my host university in Dundee.