by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
It is a pleasure to pass along an announcement
that will thrill the heart of every Burnsian around the world. Our thanks go
to Gerry Carruthers and Eleanor Cowie of the University of Glasgow’s Centre
for Robert Burns Studies for making this information available to our
Robert Burns Lives! web site.
Burns is once again being recognized by the
Scottish Government in an exciting and tangible way. On a recent trip to
Scotland I was fortunate to spend a day with Ken Simpson at the new Robert
Burns Museum in Alloway, a wonderful tribute provided in part by monies from
the government. The leadership is finally putting forth funds to secure
Burns a place in modern history whereas in the past such tributes, much
smaller in nature than either of these two programs, was left to various
clubs, federations, or individuals to secure capital to honor the poet.
While the worldwide status of Burns has slowed
in recent years, there is no reason not to assume Burns will now be able to
take his place among the best poets and writers in the world because of
these two actions - one in mortar and stone, the other in books and
scholarship. This global recognition is long overdue for Scotland’s Bard,
and we say, “Move over Wordsworth and Keats, your Scottish cousin is
knocking at the door”. Dr. Gerry Carruthers and his team of literary experts
will see that the door is opened wide for him. I am acquainted with most of
the people involved and therefore know this sum of money could not be in
better hands to see the project through.
I can’t recall this much excitement about Burns.
There is wide anticipation for these funds to be put to work as soon as
possible by this band of scholars so we, the people, can hold in our hands
and our hearts the fruits of their labors. The results of the project will
make Burns better understood and more acceptable to those who until now have
turned away from him. For the first time we will have something besides old
Scot words seldom understood or pronounced correctly to reach out globally
to one and all – particularly the young men and women who will become
Burnsians. The future of Burns has never been brighter! (FRS: 2.24.11)
A Million Reasons Robert Burns Will
The University of Glasgow has received £1million
from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to produce the first
complete scholarly edition of the works of Robert Burns, it was announced
today. (Sunday, Feb 20th)
The AHRC award, granted to the University’s
Centre for Robert Burns Studies, will see the publication of six volumes
over the next eight years including
The Oxford Handbook to Robert Burns
and The Collected Prose of Robert Burns,
with another six to follow in the next decade.
The project, entitled Editing
Robert Burns for the 21st
Century, will involve a team
of five literary scholars at Glasgow led by Dr Gerry Carruthers, a leading
international Burns expert.
The team comprises Regius and Bradley Professors of English Literature Nigel
Leask and Murray Pittock, Professor Jeremy Smith, and Burns song scholar and
senior lecturer Dr Kirsteen McCue. The University’s Centre for Robert Burns
Studies is the only one of its kind in the world.
The ARHC award signifies a change in attitude towards Burns among the
scholarly community. According to academics, Burns Studies is now “a growing
area of study after years of neglect”.
Carruthers, who will edit The
Oxford Handbook to Robert Burns,
a collection of 35 critical and scholarly essays arising in part from the
findings of the edition, said: “The AHRC funding along with the OUP contract
marks a seismic shift in Burns Studies. We now have the platform to assert
Burns’s status as a major Romantic-period artist alongside the likes of
William Wordsworth and John Keats.”
The award follows
the Oxford University Press contract secured by the University in 2009 to
produce the work.
The Glasgow-OUP edition will feature the Bard’s prose works, his letters,
poems, songs and other miscellaneous writing.
online exhibition space will also be created as part of the project, where
members of the public and researchers can discuss various aspects of the
research as well as share newly discovered materials.
Two new editions of Burns’ prose works and his songs for James Johnson’s
entitled The Scots Musical
Museum and George Thomson’s
Original Scottish Airs
will be published.
Leading this work will be Dr McCue and Prof Pittock, Head of the College of
McCue said: “Presenting Burns's songs as they appeared in the Scots Musical
Museum and then in Thomson's Original Scottish Airs is unique in that our
edition will bring together Burns's lyrics and full original musical sources
for the first time.
“This contextualisation is crucial to our understanding, not just of Burns's
lyrical prowess but his major work as a collector and amender of traditional
Alongside these editions, newly commissioned performances will be made
produced and uploaded online to support the edition aurally.
Prof Leask will develop the Prose edition,
The Collected Prose of Robert Burns.
It is hoped that the first volume will be ready for publishing in Autumn
“This volume gathers together Burns’s Commonplace Books, tour journals,
prefaces, public correspondences and other short prose works for the first
time in a fully edited collection. They offer a crucial insight into his
meteoric poetic development as well as illuminating his social and cultural
context in 18th
century Scotland,” said Prof Leask.
added: “The Commonplace Books are a collection of three manuscript volumes
which contain notes and observations from his reading and early drafts of
his poems and songs. They are basically the laboratory from where his poetry
emerged. They show his creative process at work.”
Part of the AHRC money will fund two Post Doc researchers as well as support
two, three year PhD students.
The award will support a number of public events hosted by the Centre for
Robert Burns Studies over the next five years.
These are banners depicting stained glass
windows at the university.
For more information on the Centre for Robert
Burns Studies please see:
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
supports research that furthers public understanding of human culture and
creativity. For more information please see: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk
For more media information please contact
Eleanor Cowie, Media Relations Officer at the University of Glasgow, on 0141
330 3683 or