First World Congress to boost worldwide profile of Scottish Literature

Issued: Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:24:00 BST

The inaugural World Congress of Scottish Literatures will open in Glasgow today (2 July 2014). The Congress will be opened by The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP, at the University of Glasgow at an event at 12:00.

The Congress is the largest academic event of its kind, running for four days and featuring nearly 200 speakers.

The Congress also marks the launch of the International Association for the Study of Scottish Literatures (IASSL), an international network of academics and experts of Scottish Literature. The launch of the IASSL will provide a massive boost to the profile of Scottish Literature around the world, transforming how the subject is researched and taught in universities around the world.

The IASSL is the first organisation of its kind dedicated to the global promotion of Scottish texts and authors in tertiary education. Members will oversee a number of programmes to expand national and international collaboration between universities, promote the study of Scottish texts and authors, and increase staff exchanges and collaborative research.

IASSL will help to ensure Scottish Literature’s status as a national literature is internationally recognized, bringing it in line with other national literatures such as English and American literature.

Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “This first ever World Congress of Scottish Literature is very significant. I’m grateful to the University of Glasgow for inviting me to be part of an exciting programme which highlights all that we have to treasure about our rich and diverse literary heritage.  It is fitting that so many distinguished international scholars join us to celebrate the Scottish authors who continue to leave their mark on world literature to this day.

“This celebration of our national literature is particularly fitting this year as the first pupils gain the new Scottish Studies qualification and Scottish texts become part of the Higher English course. Our literature is the living memory of our nation and reveals how our heritage is interwoven with other cultures and histories.

“The global passion for Scottish writers – from Scott, to Burns, Stevenson and countless others – has made a difference in the way our nation is viewed and valued, both by Scots and internationally, and has been vital to reaching this landmark event.”

The Congress includes three plenary lectures:

  • James Robertson: ‘Shall There Be a Scottish Literature?’ – 2 July, 13:00
  • Prof Ann Rigney: How Scott met the Mahatma: Reflections on World Literature – 3 July, 11:00
  • Prof Ted Cowan: ‘Patriotism, Public Opinion and the “People’s Chair” of Scottish History and Literature at Glasgow – 4 July, 14:00

Professor Murray Pittock, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow, said: “The launch of the IASSL represents a landmark in our attempts to extend the reach of Scottish Literature. We hope that by providing structure and support around the teaching and research of the subject both within Scotland and around the world we can help further promote its status as a national literature.

“It is particularly fitting that the University of Glasgow is hosting the inaugural World Congress of Scottish Literatures, given that we conduct more research into Scottish Studies than any other institution in the world, having attracted £10million pounds over the last five years.”

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “I’m delighted to welcome delegates travelling from around the globe to attend the first ever World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Glasgow.

“Glasgow has a rich and distinguished heritage of literary excellence including the Scottish Renaissance era, a pivotal historic period where the contributions from Glasgow writers have determined present-day academic curriculums for students across the world.     

“This conference kick-starts a significant month in the city as we welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to enjoy the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and an exciting cultural programme.”

The Congress has six partner universities from across the world, including University of California at Berkeley; University of Otago, New Zealand; Charles University Prague; Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz; University of Guelph, Canada and Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

As part of its celebrations around the Commonwealth Games and the launch of the World Congress of Scottish Literatures, the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow is also pleased to make available two studentships for any student from a Commonwealth country outwith the UK undertaking a taught postgraduate programme.

Media enquiries:

Nick Wade

Media Relations Office,

University of Glasgow

+44 (0)141-330-7126



Notes for editors:

 There will be a photocall at 12:00 at the University of Glasgow with Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor, Professor Anton Muscatelli, the Principal, and Murray Pittock, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts.

 The full conference programme is available online:

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