An auld acquaintance not to be forgot

Published: 19 July 2007

The University of Glasgow will launch a major new research centre on the work of Robert Burns on 21 July 2007

To mark the anniversary of the death of Scotland’s greatest poet, the University of Glasgow will launch a major new research centre on 21 July 2007 dedicated to the work of Robert Burns.

Directed by Dr Gerard Carruthers from the University of Glasgow’s Department of Scottish Literature, the Centre for Robert Burns Studies will be the hub of critical research offering new insights into the work of Burns.

One of the main projects taking place at the centre is the AHRC Global Burns Network which will analyse the impact of Burns outside of Scotland. The research, which will culminate in a major conference in 2009, will address questions such as: why has Burns been marginalized by Anglo-American criticism? How was Burns read and understood in other cultures, such as France, Russia or China? What contribution did Burns make to an understanding of Scottishness in cultures across the world? and how is Burns celebrated internationally today? A Global Burns website will be hosted with links to the Centre and major conferences will take place in Edinburgh and Prague in 2009.

Future projects at the Centre include the completion of a new ten volume edition of the works of Robert Burns, with particular emphasis on his songs, and an online edition of the letters of James Currie, Burns’ first editor. A series of public lectures is also planned to encourage continued active debate on Burns and his cultural and scholarly contributions. Other events include a major conference in 2008 and a three-day event in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Burns’ birth.

The Centre will include some of the most respected scholars of Robert Burns including Professor G. Ross Roy of the University of South Carolina who is considered the leading figure amongst Burns scholars.

Director, Dr Carruthers said: “No writer has wider appeal, both popular and scholarly than Burns. One of the greatest poets and also one of the finest song-writers produced by Scotland, or for that matter Britain, Burns is someone who matters in so many ways. Along with the sheer creative art that he expresses, he is a writer who is a crucial intellectual figure of the Enlightenment age, and a Romantic writer whose depiction of Scotland and of the wider world speaks of a new age of global concerns. 

“The politics, theology, economics, history and many other interests that inform his work all point to the revolutions of the world and of the human mind that accompany the late eighteenth century and which underpin to a large degree life in the twenty first century.

“As well as his work, the world has remained fascinated with Burns in other ways which makes him a huge cultural icon, a phenomenon in itself that is worthy of long and deep investigation, and the new Centre will make a contribution to its understanding.” 

The opening of the centre will be marked by a lecture from Dr Fiona Stafford of Somerville College, University of Oxford, titled ‘A Centre in the Breast: Robert Burns and Happiness’. The lecture will take place in the Burns Room at the Mitchell Library on 21 July. If you wish to attend the lecture please email

Notes to editors
For more information contact Kate Richardson at the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email

About the Global Burns Network
The Global Burns Network is funded by  the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council with support from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies and Charles University, Prague. It is directed by Professor Murray Pittock, and involves colleagues at Glasgow, Manchester and Prague universities.

First published: 19 July 2007

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