Leading academics to examine the purpose of literary study in the modern University

On 2 December 2006, Professor Nigel Leask and Professor Alan Riach of the School of English and Scottish Language and Literature will give their inaugural lectures as new Chairs in the University of Glasgow.

Professor Leask is the eighth occupant of the Regius Chair of English Language and Literature, founded in 1862, and Professor Riach holds the only Chair of Scottish Literature in the world, founded in 1995. Both professors will present their understanding of the importance of literary study in today's culture.

Professor Nigel Leask was appointed to Glasgow's Regius Chair in September 2004, having formerly held the post of Reader in Romantic Literature at the University of Cambridge. His lecture, "Crossing the Shadow Line: Burns, Scottish Romanticism and the English Literary Canon", will cast a fresh light on the study of English literature in a post-devolutionary Scottish University, in the light of his own experience and research. Focussing on the charismatic figure of Robert Burns, he'll discuss the role of Scottish romantic poetry and criticism on the development of 19th-century British literature, and its influence upon the emergence of English as a university subject.

Professor Leask said: "Part of the continuing importance of literary study in the modern university depends upon an accurate understanding of its history and purpose, and a strong sense of where it's going in relation to the broader culture which shapes both university teachers and their students."

Chair of Scottish Literature, Professor Alan Riach's lecture is entitled 'Once Upon a Time in the West of Scotland: Edwin Morgan, Modernity and Myth'. This lecture will examine the concept of 'modernity' in Scottish literature, drawing on the poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Morgan. Professor Riach will question whether an analysis of Scottish literature in an objective manner is appropriate in relation to issues such as national identity and literary quality in an historical context.

Professor Riach said: "The literature petition that went to the Scottish parliament some months ago is part of a larger story about how we've undervalued our own culture in Scotland and about how things can be changed. It's part of our responsibility ヨ and pleasure ヨ to understand modern Scottish poetry in that context here in the universities. I hope the lecture will let some of that sense of fun come across ヨ it's essential to the values of both creativity and scholarship."

The lectures will be held from 2pm-5.30pm in the Sir Charles Wilson Theatre 1, University Avenue, Gilmorehill, University of Glasgow. A reception will then be held from 5.30-8pm in the Research Club, 2 University Gardens.

Kate Richardson (K.Richardson@admin.gla.ac.uk)

If you would like to attend the lectures, or for more information, please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email K.Richardson@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 28 November 2006