James Barrowman

The Featured Researcher for July 2022 was James Barrowman.

Working Title: Counterfooting the Conjuring of a Ghaist: James Wedderburn’s Lost Plays

University of Dundee, School of Humanities


James Wedderburn was a sixteenth century playwright from Dundee. He produced a comedy on Dionysius the Tyrant and a tragedy on the beheading of John the Baptist before ‘counterfooting the conjuring of a ghaist’ in mockery of the king’s confessor Walter Laing and being forced to flee to France. The plays leave little trace and biographical details are relatively scarce, but writings from other Wedderburn brothers do survive, The Gude and Godlie Ballatis and The Complaynt of Scotland. Through reading these texts and other relevant contemporaneous sources, one can begin to think through the problem of the Wedderburn plays: their transnational influences,  the subjects they tackled, the targets of their satirical ire, the means by which the conjuring took place, the language, the form, the genre, the list goes on. As well as approaching their absence as a rhetorical exercise and a lens through which to read later Dundonian writers, I have completed a playscript. We had our first readthrough a couple of months ago. I am now making final edits and hoping to begin casting for performance. If you are interested in being involved with the project please get in touch for further information via email.

World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Prague

I recently travelled to Prague and presented a paper giving an overview of my project as part of a panel on ‘The Scottish Middle Ages and Representation’ at the 3rd World Congress of Scottish Literatures. It was a great conference and just what I was needing to get a fresh wave of excitement about my studies as the start of my final year inches closer. I met many lovely people and the papers were consistently excellent. I’m pictured below on the steps of the Faculty of Arts at Charles University, wearing a ‘Duende, Praga’ t-shirt that I purchased from the bar where we had some social drinks on the first night. With a name taken from  flamenco dancing and with Lorca’s ‘Theory and Play of the Duende’ on display, it was the perfect venue to kick it all off. As well as being an anagram of Dundee, Duende was the title of a Dundee themed special issue of Bill Herbert and Richard Price’s Gairfish, one of the first places I read about the missing plays.


Connect with James

Email: jbarrowman@dundee.ac.uk

Twitter: @duendejeams