About

Michael Newton: Scottish Gaelic scholar and writer, digital artisan, programmer, dance enthusiast, minoritized language activist, new father.

Brú Na Bóinne

Born in El Centro, California. My first career was in computer programming; worked for some 6 years at FTL Games, where I was on the team that made the popular computer game Dungeon Master.

Changed careers into Celtic Studies by moving to Glasgow, Scotland, taking Gaelic courses, then doing a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University. Graduated 1998.

Written several books and numerous articles on Scottish Gaelic Studies. See here for a full CV and partial set of publications. Spent 5.5 years in Nova Scotia teaching Celtic Studies at St Francis Xavier University 2008-13. Became a Canadian citizen in 2014.

Currently working in Digital Humanities as Technical Lead in Digital Innovation Lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

15 thoughts on “About

    • If you wish to offer an actual critique about the historical or cultural evidence I use, or my methodology, I am happy to engage in dialog, gu h-àraid ma théid agad air sin a dhèanamh anns a’ Ghàidhlig fhéin.

      The place of a person’s birth does not give them automatic authority to analyse the history or culture of that place, or invalidate their ability to do so for other places. If that was the case, everyone would be born an expert on the culture and history of their own countries, and wouldn’t be able to become able to examine or appreciate that of other places.

      It would also mean that all Scottish scholars of, say, French literature, Russian history, American economics, German art, etc, would have to cease and desist their activity.

      If that’s your philosophy, Awa ‘n bile yir head ya stumur.

    • Actually, yes, I have seen them. The speculation that people formed human knotwork (as depicted in stone monuments and manuscripts) is an interesting one, and may be correct. However, given that ring and chain dances are nearly universal, I would find it hard to believe that they weren’t in use in early medieval Gaeldom.

      • Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest that ring and chain dances weren’t present in medieval Ireland. It is reasonable to assume that they were.

      • There are connections between these forms and ideas, of course. Conceptually, the “knot” dances of (let’s call them) guilds and the ring dances of communities embody the inter-connectedness and interdependence of all members involved. After all, with the contortions involved in those human knots, each member is vulnerable without the stability and bonds afforded by the others.

        In terms of form too, as anyone who has done Balkan dancing knows, one of the most common group holds for ring dances is the “basket hold” which forms human interlace. See for example: http://katleyplanetbg.blogspot.com/2011/07/bulgarian-dances-and-their-greek.html

  1. Men working in the same trade on the same site may have had daily opportunities to dance together and many young men would have been fitter, lighter and more flexible than I ever was. I need to see the Royal School of Ballet’s version of my dance reconstruction to get a better appreciation of the possibilities. I will be in London in June and will meet my contact, Simon Rice. He cann’t release video without the school’s permission but he can show me it on his tablet.

  2. Delighted to find your blog! I’m just about to start Immersion Gaelic with Finlay McLeoid. I’ve also applied to do a four year course in Scottish Cultural Studies& Gaelic at UHI. I’m nearly 60 and only wish I’d embarked on this journey sooner.

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