University of Glasgow 

Editing and curating Robert Burns for the 21st century 

World-leading interdisciplinary research into the life and work of poet Robert Burns providing fresh insight and informing decisions on authenticity, provenance, acquisitions and exhibitions, and offering a template for studies on the impact of cultural figures in the wider economy.  

The Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CRBS) is the world’s leading centre for the study of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns (1759-96), his contexts and associated literatures. Establishing itself as a cross-disciplinary area of research excellence which has attracted major financial and intellectual investment, CRBS has brought together the largest concentration of Burns experts in the world and their work has impact on a global scale.

CRBS’s textual scholarship has revolutionised understanding of Burns’s creative processes by examining for the first time all surviving manuscript and early-print witnesses across the entire canon of his prose, song, correspondence and poetry, illuminating this research for a worldwide audience via a suite of specially commissioned performances and digital resources. Innovative approaches to the relationship between literature and material culture have led to a new model for the creation of cultural memory, recently furthered using Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Interdisciplinary research drawing on new technical methodologies for the authentication of historical manuscripts has underpinned expert advice to organisations with Burns holdings, informing decisions on authenticity, provenance, acquisitions and exhibitions. Furthermore, CRBS’s work to establish and increase the cultural and economic value of Burns – through research and promotion of Burns Night and via the ‘Robert Burns in the Scottish Economy’ report – has illuminated Burns’s under-exploited economic potential, provided a template for future studies of the impact of cultural figures in the wider economy, and advocated recommendations which have begun to be implemented on an international scale.

CRBS’s excellent research, innovative approaches to learning and teaching, extensive and diverse knowledge exchange activities and partnerships with Culture and Heritage institutions have revolutionised scholarly and popular understanding of Burns’s life and works, increasing the cultural and economic value of Burns not only in Scotland but internationally.