Robert Burns and Medicine - Exploring links between physical illness, mental disorder and creativity.

Published: 19 May 2014

This symposium will explore connections between the life and works of Robert Burns’s life and medicine. It brings together a prestigious line-up of speakers, including Prof Sir Kenneth Calman, Prof Gerard Carruthers, Prof David Purdie, Prof Jane MacNaughton and Dr Daniel Smith.

29th May 2014

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 232-242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RJ

The intention of the day is to establish research trajectories in two main areas: a historico-cultural view of ‘Burns and the Medical Profession’; and an analysis of the contemporary significance of the relationship between mental disorder and creativity informed by ‘Burns and Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)’. There has never previously been a conference on ‘Burns and Medicine’. It is a very timely topic given recent advances in the fields of Medical Humanities and in Burns scholarship (the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow is home to the new Oxford University Press edition of the Works of Robert Burns, awarded £1.1 million by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2011).

The goal will be to stimulate debate and identify areas for future research.  The cost for the day is £20.

Further information can be found here.

08.30 - 09.00

Registration, Tea & Coffee


09.30 - 09.45

Welcome and Introduction



Chair: Professor Gerard Carruthers, University of Glasgow


09.45 - 10.30

Medical knowledge in Burns’ day, with reference to the poet’s work

Sir Ken Calman University of Glasgow


10.30 - 10.50

Refreshment break


10.50 - 11.35

Medical theories concerning Burns’ fatal illness

Professor David Purdie

University of Edinburgh


11.20 - 12.05

A medical humanities take on Burns and medicine

Professor Jane Macnaughton University of Durham


12.05 - 13.00



13.00 - 13.45

Burns’ editors and commentators from the medical profession

Professor Gerard Carruthers

University of Glasgow


13.45 - 14.30

 Bipolar disorder, intelligence and creativity

Dr Daniel Smith

University of Glasgow


14.30 - 14.50

Refreshment break


14.50 - 15.30

Panel Discussion





15.30 - 15.45

Closing remarks



First published: 19 May 2014