Editing Robert Burns for the Twenty First Century.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Critical Studies

Abstract

Robert Burns is Scotland's most iconic poet and a 'world-historical' figure whose poetry has been translated in numerous languages. However, current editions of his work (e.g. Kinsley 1968) are, because of new discoveries and new approaches to textual criticism, seriously outdated. The new OUP Edition of the Works of Robert Burns, the focus of the current application, will be the most authoritative yet produced, allowing a comprehensive reappraisal of the writer's achievement.
The edition will include newly-discovered material: more than three dozen letters; around 150 manuscripts relating to the poet; a number of new print discoveries, particularly from contemporary newspapers and periodicals; and more than 160 letters written to him which the OUP edition will publish for the first time. There are currently no accurate or appropriately annotated editions of major, under-researched texts: Burns's two 'Tour Journals' (of the borders and of the highlands) and his two 'Commonplace books'. New manuscript or printed copy versions of Burns's poems mean that at least two dozen require major textual reassessment, and there are other texts whose misattribution to Burns has been demonstrated by recent discoveries in the periodical press of the 1790s.
The complete body of poetry requires new annotation in the light of our greater understanding of Burns's time, e.g. our increased knowledge of the politics of individuals that Burns was writing about and for, and our better understanding of eighteenth-century pastoral (enhanced by recent critical trends) allows us to re-read Burns's poems from 'agrarian' or 'environmental' standpoints. The first linked PhD studentship will engage with these latter approaches, and will feed into the edition. New research on eighteenth-century varieties of Scots and contemporary Scottish Standard English makes it possible to supply Burns's poetry and songs with a much more authoritative and comprehensive linguistic apparatus than has been possible hitherto. The OUP edition will seek to extend the investigation of Burns's usage of Scots even further, and the second linked PhD studentship on Burns's handling of Scots and English will be an integral part of the project.
The specific focus of the first five years of the project, and the focus of this application, is towards producing three volumes: (1) the first-ever edition of Burns's collected prose (excluding letters) including among its major items, the Tour and Commonplace journals, as well as pieces of occasional journalism and excise documents by Burns in his capacity as a 'gauger' or taxman (where these throw important light on his biography); and (2 & 3) two volumes of Burns's songs. Full musical settings (not hitherto available in modern editions) will be provided by going back to the original song-editing projects contributed to by Burns in the 1780s and '90s. This re-setting will be accompanied by much new research into Burns's musical sources including possible variant melodies and fiddle tunes that he chose or adapted.
Our editorial practice is radically innovatory, making use of Web 2.0 techniques to create a community of editors and readers surrounding the printed volumes. An online Burns Portal will offer access to a variety of Web 2.0 services, such as blog, wiki, Facebook and Twitter services which will enable readers to engage with and comment on the intellectual underpinnings of the edition. Online images of the manuscript materials will be presented, together with explanations of the editorial process, with discussion of the transcription process, the variants and explanations of the editorial decisions taken. In the case of the songs, musical performances will be made available via i-Tunes and YouTube. There will also be blog and wiki presentations of relevant aspects of material culture (including book history), and of literary and general history.

Planned Impact

As well as providing major academic benefits, the volumes of the Oxford University Press edition of the Works of Burns will address the interests of a large international community of 'amateur' and 'leisure' interest. Setting aside William Shakespeare, Burns is unique among British writers in his 'outreach' appeal. The Burns Federation comprises some 380 plus Burns Clubs world-wide in all the inhabited continents of the world, with a total membership of more than 40,000 and a readership for its journal, the Burns Chronicle, of some 4,000 individual subscribers. This constituency abroad represents not only ancestral or expatriate Scots, but many others who are simply interested in the poetry, prose and songs of Burns (Burns has been translated into at least 35 different languages). One estimate has it that annually there are c.900,000 'Burns Suppers' worldwide, and the writer's value to the Scottish economy over the past decade has been calculated at around £160 million per annum, comprising both significant 'tourism' and 'home spending' revenue. In short, Robert Burns is an 'industry', with very considerable economic as well as cultural impact.

Several Burns discussion websites and many Burns Club websites are busy hubs of discussion on many different aspects of the life and works. For the past four years, the PI has been organiser of a one-day Burns conference at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow and (in 2009) a three-day Burns conference at the University of Glasgow. In total, these five conferences have attracted 943 paying participants (75% being 'non-academics'). The Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland (both with hugely significant Burns and Scottish Poetry collections) have extended special access rights to the new edition. The PI represents the University of Glasgow on the Distributed National Burns Collection, comprising national and local authority institutions with artifact as well as literary holdings in Burns. He is also Consultant on the BBC Scotland online project which is recording Burns's entire oeuvre read by major actors. The touring Burns exhibition (2009), 'Zig Zag', on which the PI acted as academic consultant, emerged from this grouping. Several members of the editorial team also acted as advisers on the recent refurbishment of the Burns Birthplace Museum (NTS), and Murray Pittock's recent 'Beyond Text' grant award from the AHRC will ensure that such 'memorialisation' concerns articulate with the work of the edition for Burns's very wide audience. Murray Pittock's new work follows on from his highly successful AHRC-funded 'Global Burns' (2006-2009) Network that has done much to re-focus serious attention on Burns's European reputation and the writer's critical history generally.

The Burns Federation has already expressed strong support for the new Glasgow OUP edition, and it is clear that the process of the edition will be keenly followed by many enthusiasts. There is no doubt that the proposed virtual exhibition space, the CDs, podcasts and workshops proposed as part of the project would attract great attention beyond the academic community. In several recent speeches both the First Minister and the Culture Minister of the Scottish Government have referred very warmly to the new edition as a key twenty-first century portal for Scotland's greatest international cultural icon. Plans are in place for a display area for the edition in the Holyrood Parliament. The General Editor and other members of the editorial team have appeared on numerous occasions on television programmes for BBC1, BBC2, BBC (Scotland), Scottish Television and on Radio 2, Radio 4, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Ulster to discuss various aspects of Burns, on documentaries, news and popular entertainment programmes, and BBC Scotland is discussing with the PI marking the edition's start with a programme fo
 
Title Song & Prose Recordings 
Description Musical performances of texts being edited in the project, by Bill Adair, Kirsten Easdale & Gregor Lowry, Davidona Pittock & Sheena Welington. Prose recordings related to 'Editing Robert Burns for the First Century' (specifically the OUP printed output, edited by Nigel Leask) 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact 11,446 downloads (global figure) of this material. 
URL http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/song-and-music/
 
Description Published in first four volumes of the Oxford University Press edition of Robert Burns are the most accurate and fully edited versions of Robert Burns' songs for two editors (James Johnson & George Thomson) and his commonplace books, tour journals and other miscellaneous prose.
Exploitation Route Much more reliable texts by Burns, authoritatively edited will in turn allow much more informed critical scholarship about Robert Burns.
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/
 
Description Findings have helped inform new permanent exhibition at Dumfries (Museum) Robert Burns Centre, PI (Advisor) drawing on research of CIs. Findings have been utilised in my contributions as a Trustee (Board Member) at Ellisland Museum (home of Robert Burns, 1788-91) to development of research agenda at the museum. Findings have been utilised in my role on management/steering group for Dumfries & Galloway Council for their report: 'Burns Tourism in Nithsdale'.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description 'Burns Scotland' (National Burns Collection of Scotland) requested a small collaboration: 'Burns Scotland Lecture' now run annually under aegis of project.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Through the annual 'Burns Scotland Lecture', we have provided additional publicity for members of the 'Burns Scotland' (National Burns Scotland) partnership. BS partners tell us that we have become a hub for Robert Burns information that they are glad to be linked to, and several of the partners have experienced modest increased footfall to their galleries and museums as a result of the lecture.
 
Description Formal advice for booklet of Robert Burns's work to be used as a gift by the First Minister of Scotland
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description AHRC International Placement Scheme
Amount £7,800 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/L000946/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2013 
End 05/2014
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation Dumfries and Galloway Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation East Ayrshire Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation Glasgow Life
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation National Library of Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation National Museums Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation National Trust for Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 'Burns Scotland': the nationally recognized Robert Burns Collection in partnership 
Organisation Scottish Writers Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I chair the plenary group of Burns Scotland, and two other colleagues are, respectively, Secretary to the plenary group and chair of the research sub-group of Burns Scotland (one of two sub-groups). We are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at our University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are collaborating with partners in constructing a Burns paper database, and in writing research and recognition applications. Also collaborating on the annual 'Burns Scotland' lecture at the University of Glasgow Burns conference.
Impact Burns Scotland Lecture at University of Glasgow Conference (2012-17); I have been Convenor of the BS partnership since 2013.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Musical Performances with Students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 
Organisation Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Planning, producing and recording of period songs.
Collaborator Contribution Planning, producing and recording of period songs.
Impact Recroding which will appear on our website, spring 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Centre for Robert Burns Studies Annual Day Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The CRBS annual conference since 2012 has included a plenary lecture related to 'Editing Robert Burns for the 21st century' & the OUP edition of Burns. Total audience (for three most recent conferences, c.400).

Question time discussion of the way the project works and our editing techniques. People also volunteering information that has fed into first major project output, the volume edited by Nigel Leask for OUP, and also information towards the editing of Burns's Songs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
URL http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/events/
 
Description Presentation to Toronto Rugby Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to Toronto Rugby Club (including many Burnsians) about Burns and the AHRC research my team has been carrying out.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Project Multi-Media Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our website downloads of song and prose recording materials (11,446) are indicative of the large international use of and interest in 'Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century'; website visits amount to 24,728 in total between July 2012 and November 2014.

Many inquiries about books, manuscripts, songs and other material of interest to our project edition have resulted via the influence of the website. Currently we have around two dozen new Robert Burns items that have been made known to the project as a result of this interface.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/
 
Description Project Symposium on Burns's Prose 2012, on Burns's Song 2014, on Burns & Textual Editing 2014 (again). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We had over 100 participants for our three workshops (total) comprising other academics, the large lay Burns constituency including archivists, curators, local historians and 'amateur' Burns scholars. There was much discussion of editorial methods, the proffering of some new information from our audience, and general affirmation that our methods of 'Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century' were to be commended. Our audiences were also very complimentary about our transparency (Burns Studies/Culture can be very tendentious).

The Editor of the Burns Chronicle (organ of the World Burns Federation) requested that we offer him brief reports on the project in future.
From all three workshops have arisen invitations to the members of the project team to speak to Burns Clubs & at other institutions (including the Burns Birthplace Museum & the National Library of Scotland).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2014
URL http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/events/
 
Description Recordings - by the performers, Bill Adair, Tam Dean Burn, Kirsten Easdale & Gregor Lowry, Donny, O'Rourke, Davidona Pittock, Sheena Wellington 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 11,446 downloads to early November 2014:
http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/song-and-music/
http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/prose-recordings/

Much discussion of these recordings among our audiences at symposia and our annual Burn s conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/song-and-music/
 
Description Talk to the Guild of Robert Burns Speakers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to the Guild of Robert Burns Speakers about the work of my team in its AHRC research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016