In Person


Friday 10 May 10:00 – 14:00 free

Burns & The Environment: Developing a Collaborative Agenda

Advanced Research Centre (ARC), University of Glasgow
11 Chapel Lane
Glasgow G11 6EW

This cross-disciplinary roundtable, sponsored by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies and The Dear Green Bothy at the University of Glasgow, is dedicated to Robert Burns and the environment. Addressing current and future directions in Burns studies in relation to ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, it will also consider the poet’s relevance to 21st century concerns around sustainable land use, cultural heritage, and the climate crisis. 

Despite being partly pioneered within Romantic Studies, there has been comparatively little ecocritical focus on Robert Burns, despite a recent upturn in environmentalist approaches to Scottish Romanticism in works by e.g. Eric Gidal (Ossianic Unconformities) and Susan Oliver (Walter Scott and the Greening of Scotland). This critical gap is all the more surprising when one considers how closely Burns was linked to the natural world as both farmer and poet, how these concerns frequently overlapped, and how his poems and songs were frequently influenced by agricultural work at Tarbolton and Mossgiel farms in Ayrshire, or at Ellisland farm in Dumfries. 

As well as discussing the role of environmental factors like climate change and non-human animals in Burns’s poetry, the workshop will also discuss his own shaping influence on the natural world as an ‘improving farmer’, and in relation to landscape aesthetics as registered in his Borders and Highland Tours. Burns played an important role in shaping subsequent representations of Scottish land and natural environment, not least in the works of travel writers and poets. 

The workshop will be divided into two sections. A morning session, dedicated to ‘Robert Burns and the Environment’, will feature short talks from literary scholars and historians. The later session will focus on ‘Burns, Sustainable Cultural Heritage & Agriculture’, featuring talks by representatives of cultural heritage organisations, sustainable land-use theorists and practitioners, and environmental activists/performers. A closing session will explore the synergies between these two complementary perspectives on Robert Burns and the Environment.