It is a global phenomenon – a tale of love across the centuries that has brought the scenery of Scotland and Jacobite history to a new worldwide audience.

It is rumoured that former Prime Minister David Cameron asked Sony to delay the TV premiere of Outlander in August 2014 until after the independence referendum vote on September 18 because he was concerned it might fuel a groundswell of support for the yes vote.

Over six seasons and nine novels the time-travelling adventure series with its roots in Scottish history has turned its cast into superstars, made its author into a heroine, created a global legion of fans and put Scotland on the map for a world readership and TV audience.

It is also one of the first mainstream TV shows to feature Scottish Gaelic, encouraging international fans to learn the language.

Academics say the expected launch of Season 7 of the TV series this summer offers a timely opportunity to reflect on Outlander and its cultural impact through literature and television.

The University of Glasgow is to host a major conference, featuring around 90 speakers, which will explore the history, politics, culture, languages, clothes and music featured in the series as well as dedicated fan events.

The International Outlander Conference has been years in the planning and will take place from July 18-22.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series was inspired by Scotland and in turn has helped put Scotland on the map

Author Dr Diana Gabaldon, who will be a keynote speaker, said: "I'm honoured (and very excited) that this conference is taking place under the sponsorship of the University of Glasgow.

The Herald: Diana Gabaldon's enthusiasm for her own creations is infectious

"A tremendous amount of work and organisation has gone into it, and I'm so looking forward to being a part of it."

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Gabaldon’s blockbuster historical fantasy series about Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe on TV), an Englishwoman from the 1940s who travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland and falls for outlaw Jamie Fraser (played by Glasgow honorary graduate Sam Heughan), has sold 50 million copies around the world.

Since the first novel was published in 1991, Outlander has become one of the world’s most popular fiction series, and since 2014 a long-running popular television series has added legions of new fans and boosted its status as an international cultural sensation.

The Herald:

The University of Glasgow has a unique place in Outlander – it doubles as Harvard in the TV series, and several academics from a range of disciplines have been directly involved in the production as researchers, advisors and even cast members.

READ MORE: Outlander to end with series eight as focus shifts to prequel 

Academics say the Outlander novels have been scrupulously researched by their author while there is a vast range of expertise and consultation involved in the making of the series.

There is an equally diverse array of potential areas for future exploration that will help build Outlander Studies as an interdisciplinary field at the University of Glasgow. 

Studies have already focused on a range of topics including literary and screen tourism, race, sexuality, slavery, war, medicine, witchcraft, transnationalism and the Scottish diaspora, as well as fans and fandom.

The author has revealed that she based leading man Jamie on Patrick Troughton's companion Jamie McCrimmon from a 1969 Highland themed story War Games.

Professor Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies (English Literature), at the University’s School of Critical Studies, who has just finished the 9th, penultimate novel, said: “It's probably the most important depiction of Scotland in literature since Walter Scott.

"It's a totally pioneering piece of work.

"She [Diana Gabaldon] came up with a female doctor before Doctor Who did. For me personally, it just wraps up so many things together.

"It's reminiscent of Highlander, although her original inspiration was Doctor Who.

"The novels were out from 1991 and the series appeared in 2014 so there was a very large, faithful following for the books long before the adaptation appeared.

"I've just finished watching The English (The six-part BBC western drama) which has many parallels with Outlander without a doubt.

"There are rumours that the original release date for the TV series was delayed because of the independence referendum.

"The view is that David Cameron met someone from Sony when he was over in the States.

"I don't take a particular view on that but obviously like Braveheart, in 1995, Outlander came along and got enormous international interest in Scotland."

He said the inclusion of Gaelic in the books and TV series was "hugely important" for the language. The University of Glasgow provided both Gaelic and French-speaking advisors for the series.

He said: "She starts with Scots and then moves into Gaelic and has done a tremendous amount of research and I think it's been a really pivotal platform.

"The novels themselves feature the teaching of Gaelic, terms and are untranslated into the text. It's absolutely hard-wired into the novels."

READ MORE: Watch: Outlander star Sam Heughan's impromptu singalong with Glasgow graduates

Celtic & Gaelic Lecturer Gillebrìde MacMillan/Gillebrìde Mac 'IlleMhaoil played Gwyllyn the Bard in Season 1 where he enthralled TV viewers with traditional Gaelic songs and tales.

MacMillan, a Senior Lecturer in Gaelic/ Àrd-òraidiche ann an Gàidhlig at the University of Glasgow’s School of Humanities/ Sgoil nan Daonnachdan, said:

“Huge opportunities have opened up for me since I was first cast as Gwyllyn the Bard in Outlander.

"I just love that Gaelic language, songs and culture have been given a worldwide audience through Outlander."

Keynote speakers also include; Professor Murray Pittock, Dr Katherine Byrne, and Professor Sir Geoff Palmer.

Professor Pittock, University of Glasgow Pro Vice-Principal, will speak about Culloden drawing on his ground-breaking book on the battle, a crucial starting point for Outlander; Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, who is a pioneering human rights activist, will speak on the debates around Scotland and slavery; and Dr Byrne, of Ulster University whose expertise is in Television Studies, hones in on key themes depicted in the series, including medicine and sexual violence.

Cultural events will include an exhibition of Jacobite Medals, Outlander tours, a ‘Night at the Museum’ event, and even a ceilidh.

Tickets for International Outlander Conference at the University of Glasgow from 18-22 July are now on sale to the public and available via Eventbrite.

Tickets are available on a first come first served basis at

Learn more about the Outlander Conference via