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Robert Burns Lives!
The Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow By Professor Gerard Carruthers

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Greater Atlanta, GA, USA

My cup runneth over! I have had the opportunity over the past few years to be a member of the Business Board of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow. It has been an exciting time of working with some of the finest men and women I have ever known. These professors, department heads, and holders of PhDs are among the “best and brightest” found on this or any other university campus. It is a joy to be associated with them and hold the banner for Robert Burns for one and all who wish to learn about the Bard. Save the article below as it will continue to guide you in the years to come relative to the magnificent Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow. (FRS: 3-23-16)

The Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow
By Professor Gerard Carruthers

Burns Stained Glass Window sent in by Dr. Guariento

Founded in 2007, the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow is home to a wide range of teaching and research. It involves seven full-time professors and lecturers in English and Scottish Literature, two full-time research assistants, three part-time research assistants and four postgraduate research students. This grouping represents the biggest concentration of Robert Burns specialism in the world. The three PhD one MPhil students all have prestigious funding grants and are at work on a range of projects including Burns in American Reception, Burns and Medicine, Burns and Eighteenth-century Language and the Career of Burns’s friend and contemporary Maria Riddell.

The flagship project of the Centre is the Oxford University Press Edition of the Works of Robert Burns published since 2014, which has been supported since 2011 by a £1 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Other Burns research projects include ‘Burns Choral’, ‘The Correspondence of James Currie’ (the poet’s first editor) and ‘The Global Burns Network’. The Centre is also a hub for ‘Edinburgh’s Enlightenment, 1689-1750’, ‘The John Galt Society’ (the Ayrshire novelist, a near-contemporary of Burns) and ‘Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760–1815’. Cumulatively, the projects with which it is associated have attracted around £2million in external research funding.

In January 2016, with Glasgow University colleagues in Scottish History, the Centre launched a three week introductory course on Burns (a MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course). This saw 7,500 people sign up and a longer, more advanced online-Burns course is now in preparation to go live in the autumn of 2016.

Each year in January, the Centre runs an annual conference and in 2016 this was held for the first time at a new location, The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which will be the venue from now on. The 2016 conference was a huge success and, for the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, was on the theme of ‘The Two Bards: Burns & Shakespeare’. The Centre collaborates with the Burns Birthplace museum with GU student internships at RBBM and also in the nationally recognised collections, conservation and research partnership, ‘Burns Scotland’. This brings together Scottish national institutions (including the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland) as well as many local authorities and a number of Burns clubs. The Centre provides the Chair and Secretary of the main Burns Scotland group and the Chair for its research sub-group.

The staff of the Centre frequently contribute to the media across the UK, Europe, North America, Australasia and elsewhere: TV, Radio, Broadsheets and Tabloids; and also offer advice to Scottish government, institutions at home and overseas as well as the rare book trade. Specialist expertise has also been offered to the Post Office, whisky distilleries, and a housing charity. Many books, articles and online resources have been written and produced by Centre Staff.

Centre staff have produced numerous books, articles and online resources and take a particular pride in having good and working relations with the worldwide Burns movement. Lectures have been delivered by our staff to the annual conferences of the World Burns Federation and the Robert Burns Association of North America, and Centre staff are in high demand every year to deliver ‘Immortal Memories’ and other extramural Burns activities.

One of the ways in which the Centre interfaces with its wide public is through its website and, for instance, its specially commissioned song performances on the site, ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’ have had thousands of downloads.

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