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Robert Burns Lives!
Book Review of Scottish and Irish Romanticism By Murray Pittock


Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
Email: jurascot@earthlink.net

Despite her busy schedule, Dr. Rhona Brown was kind enough to accept my invitation to write about the newly established G. Ross Roy Medal which was presented for the first time this month to Dr. Ainsley McIntosh of the University of Aberdeen. It is always a joy to have Dr. Brown appear in the pages of Robert Burns Lives!, and those interested can find her previous article on Professor Roy at http://www.electricscotland.com/familytree/frank/burns.htm, Chapter 61.

Dr. Brown is Lecturer in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow where she teaches Scottish literature from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Her monograph, Robert Fergusson and the Scottish Periodical Press, will be published by Ashgate in 2011. She is currently researching the Scottish magazines and periodicals of the pre-Blackwood's era and continues to publish on eighteenth-century literature. Welcome back, Dr. Brown! (FRS: 9.30.10)

Presentation of the G. Ross Roy Medal for Excellence in Postgraduate Study in Scottish Literature
University of Glasgow, 9 September 2010


Dr. Roy and Dr. Ainsley McIntosh

In the summer of 2009, Professor G. Ross Roy was named as an honorary graduate of the University of Glasgow for his esteemed role in Scottish literary studies, and particularly for his vast and valuable contribution to Robert Burns Studies. In September 2010, the already cordial and enduring relationship between Professor Roy and Scottish universities was further cemented, with the presentation of the G. Ross Roy Medal for Excellence in Postgraduate Study in Scottish Literature, to Dr. Ainsley McIntosh of the University of Aberdeen.

Professor Roy is an apt inspiration for this award. After graduating from the Universities of Concordia and Montreal, Strasbourg and Paris, and after serving as a Canadian Air Force navigator, he taught and researched at institutions in Quebec, Montreal and Texas before settling at the University of South Carolina in 1965. His activities at South Carolina demonstrate his scholarly generosity as well as his encouragement of new research – and, indeed, of new researchers – in Scottish literature. Inspired by his grandfather’s enthusiasm for Burns, Professor Roy began amassing an important collection of Burnsiana and Scottish poetry in Columbia’s Thomas Cooper Library. As well as revising J. De Lancey Ferguson’s collection of Burns’s letters in exemplary fashion, he also founded, with his wife, Lucie, Studies in Scottish Literature, a journal at the top of its field. As well as these major contributions, Professor Roy and Lucie established the Ormiston Roy Fellowship – inaugurated in memory of Professor Roy’s influential grandfather in 1990 – which allows international scholars, both new and established, to visit and explore the valuable resources held at Columbia. As a result of this tireless activity in support of Scottish literature, Professor Roy has been honoured by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, by the Eighteenth Century Scottish Studies Society and, most recently, was one of the first Honorary Fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

The possibility of a prize to honour Professor Roy and to award outstanding postgraduate research was first mooted by Professor Emeritus Douglas Gifford, former Head of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. His idea received key support from Dr. Gerard Carruthers, current Head of Scottish Literature, whose work enabled the Medal to come into being. The Medal received important backing from the Universities Committee for the Teaching of Scottish Literature – a group which comprises members and representatives from each Higher Education institution in Scotland engaged in the teaching of Scottish literature – and from Dr. Gavin Wallace, in one of his final acts as Head of Literature in the Scottish Arts Council. Unfortunately, Dr. Carruthers and Dr. Wallace were unable to attend the event, but their important contributions were recognised by the speakers.

Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, and Professor Nigel Leask, Head of the School of Critical Studies, began proceedings by welcoming guests, before Professor Rory Watson, representative of the Universities Committee for the Teaching of Scottish Literature, paid tribute to those involved in bringing the G. Ross Roy Medal to fruition. Highlighting the Committee’s aim – ‘to promote, defend and encourage’ the study of Scottish literature at university level – Professor Watson emphasised that Professor Roy was a suitable inspiration for the award. Dr. Robert Irvine of the University of Edinburgh, a member of the judging panel for the G. Ross Roy Medal, followed with a tribute to the finalists demonstrating the outstanding quality and exceptional range of the doctoral work under consideration.


Presentation of Medal

Finally, guests were introduced to the winner of the G. Ross Roy Medal: Dr. Ainsley McIntosh, whose doctoral thesis, ‘A Critical Edition of Walter Scott’s Marmion’ was praised for its scrupulous, standard-setting textual editing. According to Dr. Irvine, Dr. McIntosh’s research could – and indeed, should – provide a template for future editions of Scott’s poetry. Happily, Dr. McIntosh’s aptitude has been recognised at the University of Aberdeen, where she has begun work as a Research Assistant on a major project, funded by the Carnegie Trust and led by Dr. Alison Lumsden, to produce a new edition of Scott’s poetry; Dr. McIntosh’s Marmion will be one of the first texts to appear.

In his presentation speech, Professor Roy shared his happiness that the discipline of Scottish literary studies is now well established in the United Kingdom while constantly gaining prestige in the United States of America. The G. Ross Roy Medal will ensure that this trend continues to develop. However, with its rewarding of outstanding postgraduate work, it will play an important role not only in Scottish literary studies of the present, but also of the future.

Rhona Brown
Scottish Literature, School of Critical Studies
University of Glasgow


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