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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.     

Preliminary Program Information: 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 leading Burns collections.  The library recently received a significant additional group of Burns and Burns-related manuscripts from Dr. & Mrs. Roy, which will be on public display during the conference.  Conference events will include:
● an opening conference keynote lecture, by Prof. Edward J. Cowan (University of Glasgow; the W. Ormiston Roy Memorial Lecture);
● the exhibition opening, with remarks by Dr. Roy and an opening reception hosted by the Thomas Cooper Society, on Thursday afternoon;

publication of the first full catalogue of Burns materials in the Roy Collection, compiled by Elizabeth Sudduth, with over 80 illustrations (University of South Carolina Press);
● a full program on Friday and Saturday morning of speakers and panels on Burns topics, including talks by Prof. R. D. S. Jack (University of Edinburgh), Dr. Kenneth G. Simpson (University of Glasgow), Prof. Carol McGuirk (Florida Atlantic University), and others;
● special panels on Burns manuscripts and rare materials in the Roy Collection, and on collecting Burns;
● a pre-concert reception for registered conference participants early Friday evening;
● a Burns concert on Friday evening with legendary Burns singer Jean Redpath, and a question-and-answer session on Saturday morning with Jean Redpath about her experience performing and interpreting Burns's songs (preregistered conference participants will receive tickets with their registration packet); 
● a public program on Burns on Saturday afternoon at the South Carolina State Museum, with Prof. Jack and others, in connection with the SC Tartan Day celebration (to be confirmed); 
● a concluding conference dinner on Saturday evening, with the Immortal Memory proposed by the President of the Robert Burns World Federation, Bill Dawson. 

Call for Papers: 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 as soon as possible, and no latter than November 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.

Location, Registration, Hotel: The conference is on the University of South Carolina's flagship campus, in Columbia, the state capital.  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. We plan to will open preregistration in January 2009; 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); be sure to specify the Courtyard Downtown, as other Marriott hotels are at a distance).  Other nearby hotels include the Inn at USC (Pendleton St and Pickens), Claussen's Inn (Greene St near Five Points), and the Clarion Town House (Gervais St at Pickens).   For more information on these alternative hotels, click here.

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)