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Research interests

Research interests

  •  History of Scottish Studies/Scottish Criticism
  • 18thC Scottish Literature
  • Literature, Politics & the Periodical Press in the 1790s
  • Robert Burns
  • Alexander Geddes
  • Walter Scott
  • James Bridie
  • Muriel Spark
  • Writing about Crime
  • Textual Editing & Book History


  • Principal Investigator, ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’ [major AHRC-funded project, 2011-16]
  • General Editor of the new multi-volume edition of the Works of Robert Burns (Oxford University Press)
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies
  • Convener of the Burns Scotland Partnership (the National Burns Collection)  
  • University of Glasgow representative on the Abbotsford Library Joint Advisory Committee
  • Editor, Scottish Literary Review (peer reviewed periodical of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies)
  • Member of the editorial boards of: The Drouth, Eighteenth-Century Poetry, The John Clare Journal, Romantic Textualities; Scottish Studies International, Studies in Scottish Literature; international editorial board member, International Review of Scottish Studies
  • Member advisory boards for: Edinburgh Edition of Robert Louis Stevenson, Edinburgh Edition of the Poetry of Walter Scott
  • Council Member for the Association for Scottish Literary Studies (member also of Publications Committee); Scottish Catholic Historical Association.

Current Research Projects

General Editor, The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns.

Robert Burns, Patronage and the People. Monograph in progress.

Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the 21st Century [a volume being co-edited by Don Martin and myself for publication in late 2016, in which I have written or co-written three chapters].

The International Companion to John Galt [currently being co-edited by Colin Kidd and myself for publication by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies in 2017].

'Literature & Union' [with Professor Colin Kidd, University of St Andrews] Carnegie-funded project featuring workshops, 2013-15, other events and a collection of essays, Literature & Union, Scottish Texts, British Contexts from the Reformation to the Referendum to be published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

'The People's Voice: Scottish Political Poetry, Song and the Franchise, 1832-1918'. [Co-I] with Dr Catriona Macdonald, History [PI] and Prof Kirstie Blair, Strathclyde [Co-I]: a series of workshops, forthcoming web resources, other publications & symposia from 2014, part-funded by the Chancellor's Fund & a major Carnegie Trust grant (running until 2018).

I am also working on an assortment of essays on Allan Ramsay, editing Robert Burns, Nineteenth-century Scottish fiction, the commemoration of ‘Peterloo’ (1819), crime writing & Muriel Spark.


I was lecturer in the Department of English Studies, University of Strathclyde (1995- 2000), and Research Fellow at the Centre for Walter Scott Studies, University of Aberdeen (1993-5). I am a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and of St Andrew's College of Education, Glasgow. My PhD thesis was on 'The Invention of Scottish Literature During the Long Eighteenth Century'.


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Selected publications

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I am currently supervising PhD dissertations on Robert Burns, Thomas Carlyle, R.B. Cunninghame Graham and literary forgery; and an MPhil thesis on Dougal Graham

I have successfully supervised PhD dissertations on: Scottish Enlightenment Rhetoric, Robert Fergusson, Robert Burns (2), James Orr, Samuel Thomson, Robert Tannahill, Muriel Spark, Seamus Heaney, Alasdair Gray and on the Modern Scottish Republic of Letters; MLitt dissertations on the language of sentiment and on Scottish Literature and Medicine; MPhil theses on Robert Burns, Blackwood's Magazine & Gothic Fiction, Muriel Spark, 'Bunkermen & Lasses o' Pairts: Contemporary Scottish Fiction' and 'Utopian and Dystopian Landscapes in Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature'.

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Additional Information

I was external examiner for the Postgraduate taught courses in English Literature (2011-12) and the MA course in English Studies, University of Aberdeen (2007-11) and the BA course in Cultural Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands (2001-6).

During the summer of 2002 I was W. Ormiston Roy Memorial Visiting Research Fellow at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA. During 2011 I was Visiting Professor in English Studies at the University of Wyoming and in 2012 Visiting Honorary Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

University roles

  • Member of College of Arts Appeals Panel
  • Member of Senate Student Conduct Panel
  • GU representative & Chair, Panel D, Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities, under the aegis of the AHRC [I am currently ‘bought out’ 20 per cent of my time for this role]

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