USC Logo Rare Books and Special Collections






Contemporaries, Contexts & Cultural Forms 

Thursday, April 2-Saturday, April 4, 2009
at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

burns cameo

To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (1759-1796), the University of South Carolina is hosting “Robert Burns: Contemporaries, Contexts & Cultural Forms,” a multi-disciplinary international conference to be held Thursday, April 2-Saturday, April 4, 2009.  We expect this to be the major event in North America for the Burns 250th Anniversary, and we hope it will prove a landmark in the development of Scottish literary studies in the United States.   The conference aims to bring together Burnsians and Burns scholars of different generations, from North America, Scotland, and elsewhere, to provide fresh perspectives on Burns’s work and that of his contemporaries, in the context of Enlightenment and Romantic literature and culture.     

Most events will be held in the University’s Thomas Cooper Library, home to the G. Ross Roy Collection of Robert Burns & Scottish Poetry, one of the world’s premiere Burns collections.  The library recently received a significant group of Burns and Burns-related manuscripts from Dr. & Mrs. Roy, which will be on public display during the conference.  Along with a full program of talks and panels, conference events will include an opening reception and exhibition on Thursday afternoon, a special panel on manuscripts and rare printed material in the Roy Collection, a Burns concert and discussion session with Jean Redpath, and a concluding conference dinner on Saturday evening, with the President of the Robert Burns World Federation, Bill Dawson. 

We invite paper proposals for sessions on Burns in relation to his contemporaries, and we hope also for papers on such characteristic cultural forms of Burns’s time as chapbooks, newspaper poetry, periodical essays, letters, poetical epistles, engraved music collections, etc.  Proposals for papers should include proposer's name, paper title, 1-2 page abstract, 2-3 line bio note, and contact information.  For presentation, papers should be kept to 20-25 minutes reading time.  Proposals should be sent by October 15, 2008, either by email to or by regular mail to: Patrick Scott & G. Ross Roy, Robert Burns Conference, Rare Books & Special Collections, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.  Because of difficulties with the university email system, if you do not get a timely response to an email, please follow-up with a hardcopy, fax or phone call.

The conference is on the University of South Carolina's flagship campus, in Columbia, the state capital.

Because of institutional and other support, we hope to keep the conference registration at $100 or less, including the opening reception, concert and conference dinner.  A block of rooms has been reserved at the recently-renovated Courtyard by Marriott, 630 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201, close by the library.  To get the conference rate, book before March 1, 2009, and say you are attending the Robert Burns Conference (  or call: 1-803-799-7800).  Columbia is at the intersection of I-20, I-77, and I-26, and Columbia Metropolitan Airport has direct flights from many major cities, as well as connections through Charlotte and Atlanta.  

Contact information: Patrick Scott, Rare Books, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.
Tel: (US) 803-777-1275.
Fax: (US) 803-777-4661 (marked Attn Dr. Scott)