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Robert Burns Lives!
The Professor G. Ross Roy Medal 2013 Winner for Excellence in Research in Scottish Literature

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

The G. Ross Roy Medal for 2013 will be awarded on November 14th and this year’s recipient is Dr. Michael Morris of the University of Glasgow.

Thanks to Graeme Clark and the Saltire Society for this picture

Supervised by Professor Nigel Leask of the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow, Michael earned his PhD earlier this year for an outstanding interdisciplinary thesis entitled ‘Atlantic Archipelagos: A Cultural History of Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, c.1740-1833’. On the strength of his thesis, Michael has been offered a publishing contract with Routledge and was awarded the prestigious 2013 G. Ross Roy prize for the Best PhD in Scottish Literature, open to postgraduates from all universities in Scotland. Michael’s PhD proposes that the Caribbean, with its tragic history of slavery and exploitation, represents a ‘forgotten past’ for post-devolution Scotland, as well as recovering the thread of Scottishness in the ‘cross-cultural weaving loom’ of Caribbean identity. In examining a wide range of Scottish literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the contemporary works like James Robertson’s modern classic Joseph Knight, Morris poses some searching questions for contemporary Scottish identity, without ever resorting to a facile ‘rhetoric of blame’. Morris’s forthcoming monograph will be published to coincide with the referendum on Scottish Independence in 2014 and will doubtless make a positive contribution to the broader discussion of that important event, to the extent that it excavates some of the deeper underlying issues at stake.

After a stellar undergraduate career at the University of Glasgow (joint honours in English and French), Michael went on to take a Masters degree in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies in 2007 and was awarded a 1st class with distinction. On the M.Litt course, study of the literature of the Anglophone colonial and postcolonial world was complimented by courses on the Iberian and French empires, taught by Professor Bill Marshall (now at the University of Stirling) and others, to provide a truly global and cross-disciplinary perspective, embracing theory, history, literature and language. Morris’s training at both Masters and Doctoral levels in the methodologies of Transnational Atlantic Studies (with a strongly Scottish focus) are complimented by his expertise and knowledge of Francophone Caribbean literature and culture. He reads and speaks fluent French, and was awarded a four-month postgraduate scholarship by Glasgow University to study at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, of which he made excellent use. 

He has recently been appointed to a prestigious research fellowship at Edinburgh University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and this is enabling him to develop the thesis into a monograph, in the congenial intellectual environment of IASH.  He is actively forging links with the STAR project on Scottish Trans-Atlantic Relations, as well as Edinburgh’s Scottish Diaspora Centre. For more info on Michael Morris, see:

University of Glasgow Page and his Institute for Advanced Studies Page

Picture provided by Professor Patrick Scott, University of South Carolina

The Roy medal was established in 2010 with the cooperation of nine Scottish universities and was funded by the Scottish Arts Council. The medal is struck in bronze. The main movers were Professor Douglas Gifford of UCSL, for Creative Scotland, the late Dr. Gavin Wallace and Professor Gerard Carruthers FRSE, UCSL.

Michael Morris is the fourth recipient of the Roy honor. It is awarded annually to the best postgraduate thesis in Scottish Literature and was judged by the Universities Committee for the Teaching of Scottish Literature (UCSL). This year’s prize has now gone to Glasgow for the first time after previously going to:

2010, University of Aberdeen, Dr. Ainsley McIntosh for A Critical Edition of Walter Scott’s Marmion (see Robert Burns Lives! 98). Professor Roy presented the medal in person.

2011, University of Aberdeen, Dr. Sally Newsome for her dissertation on Scott's novels, Seductive and Monstrous Fictions: Discourses of the Orient in Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels.

2012, University of Edinburgh, Dr. Corey Gibson for his dissertation Endless Flyting: The Formulation of Hamish Henderson's Cultural Politics, about the poet, folklore scholar and folk-singer Hamish Henderson (1919-2002), incidentally also a good friend of Ross Roy.

Dr Michael Morris
This link provides a list of his work

There is a growing prestige with the award as reflected by the fact that for the second year the medal’s presentation has been incorporated into the prestigious Saltire Society (book) Awards ceremony at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

I have been informed that there is a substantial amount of material on Robert Burns in the Morris thesis and look forward to it being published in book form. Also, I appreciate the assistance of Professor Nigel Leask, Professor Gerard Carruthers, Dr. Rhona Brown, all  from the University of Glasgow, and Professor Patrick Scott of the University of South Carolina, for their contributions to this piece. Without them, there would have been no article!

(FRS: 11.14.13)

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