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Robert Burns Lives!
Studies in Scottish Literature

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

Studies in Scottish Literature has been around for a long time. It was first published during my second year of graduate school in Wake Forest, North Carolina - 1963. One of the great Ross Roy stories I cherish is his telling me that when he first discussed publishing SSL, someone told him he’d be lucky to publish one volume on Scottish literature.  Evidently the person talking with Ross knew little about Scotland’s history and her people since that was 50 years ago! Ross announced in 2008 that the journal would cease publication “after a comprehensive index had been compiled and published”. The index is undergoing proofing as I write this and, when published, will be another gift from Ross and Lucie Roy to all of us. Actually, it will be a testament of their “magnificent obsession” with Studies in Scottish Literature.

I’m reminded of how grateful I was when Bill Dawson published his Directory to The Articles and Features Published in The Burns Chronicle 1892 - 2005 and how much easier he made it for all of us to research the chronicle. I cannot tell you how much time has been saved when I refer to the chronicles and am able to find my subject in a matter of minutes rather than having to thumb through chronicle after chronicle. This is what the SSL index will do for the 36 volumes – much needed and, more importantly, greatly wanted!

I’m happy to say that the journal experienced a rebirth after many Scottish literature scholars protested its demise, and we’re happy that a new series of volumes has been agreed upon with the University of South Carolina thanks to the assistance of Tom McNally, Dean of Libraries. Two new editors are now on board - Patrick Scott and Tony Jarrells, and their goal is much more than to just keep SSL going a few more years. SSL is in for a new ride and will be offering much more than just the printed page. I am glad the decision was made to continue the old numbering sequence, and I now have in my library the first volume of the second series and what a beautiful book it is, using part of the cover image created by Alasdair Gray from SSL’s Volume 30 from 1998. I’m proud of what Patrick and Tony have produced in Volume 38.

I see bright days ahead for Studies in Scottish Literature under their leadership. Both Scott and Jarrells have a solid foundation to build on as they carry on the work of Ross and Lucie. It is fitting that this new volume has an article by Ross entitled “A Note from the Founding Editor” written just prior to his death. A second treat is an article by Ross and Patrick, ‘The Poet’s Welcome’: An Unrecorded Robert Burns Manuscript, on a newly discovered manuscript of Burns. What better way for this first volume of the new volume to start? Upon reviewing the book’s contents, I believe every reader will turn immediately to see what Ross and Patrick have written.

There is another outreach for the new SSL, one that is very exciting, and as Patrick and Tony reference in the Preface, “more radically, beginning with this volume, SSL is being published both in print and digital form, dramatically expanding access for students and researchers, and earlier volumes are also being made freely available”. (I understand from them that volumes 13-34 and 38 are currently online.)  Patrick also says that “new volumes will be added to the digital site as they are published, and we plan also to add the remaining earlier volumes”.  In the world of scholarly research it is exciting to have a web site offered free of charge to students, scholars and laymen. See for this wonderful gift. More on this, I’m sure, will be forthcoming in SSL.

I have not singled out any of the articles because I wanted this to be about the importance of SSL, its bold look to the future with a brief look at its past. It was necessary for me to see the overall picture of the old and the new. The look forward is one of strength, and if Volume 38 is any indication, it is quite clear the journal is headed in the right direction.

The contributor list to the new journal reads like a cast of all-star professors with names like Patrick Scott, Tony Jarrells, Murray Pittock, Gerard Carruthers, Leith Davis, Matthew Wickman, Willy Maley, Caroline McCracken-Flesher, R.D.S. Jack, Ruth Perry, Stephen Brown, Marvin McAllister, Gerald P. Mulderig, and of course, G. Ross Roy. The universities represented by these men and women are very impressive indeed - University of Glasgow, Simon Fraser University, Brigham Young University, University of Wyoming, University of Edinburg, MIT, Trent University, DePaul University, and the University of South Carolina. As the old saying goes, “It doesn’t get much better than this.”

Prepare yourself for several hours of interesting reading. And finally, I will gladly place this volume on the shelf with my other ones of SSL with many thanks to the University of South Carolina. I look forward to future volumes from Scott and Jarrells and have been told Volume 39 is planned for release this summer.

SSL can be purchased from or through for $16 plus shipping, the same price level as 1977. It is also available on AmazonUK and AmazonEurope in pounds or euros. (FRS: 4.1.13)

See also...

Scottish Vernacular Literature
A Succinct History by T. F. Henderson (1898) (pdf)

Return to Robert Burns Lives! Index Page


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