Annual SWINC Public Lecture: Border Trouble: ‘World Literature’ and the Case of Scottish Balladry

Date(s) - 16/03/2011
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Lecture Theatre 1, Appleton Tower


A lecture with music

Professor Maureen N. McLane
New York University

Supported by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

What is a ballad? What is a song? What is romanticism? What is world literature? And what does the case of Scottish balladry have to say to any of these questions? Ever since the eighteenth-century ballad revival, scholars and songsters have argued about what makes a ballad a ballad, and what makes a Scottish ballad Scottish. Such questions have taken new directions with the emergence of ‘world literature.’ Yet all too often discussions of world literature neglect to explore just how such literatures get produced by mobilizing oral traditions. Offering poetic and musical examples, Professor Maureen McLane will explore the use and abuse of Scottish balladry and song from the eighteenth century until now.

The event is free but please book a place by email:

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Maureen McLane Photo taken by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Maureen McLane Photo taken by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Maureen McLane is Associate Professor of English at New York University. She was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Chicago, from which she received her PhD in 1997.  She is the author of Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge UP, 2008) and Romanticism and the Human Sciences (CUP, 2000, 2006).  She also co-edited The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry (2008).  Her research and teaching focus on British literature and culture, 1750-30, and more broadly on the intersection of poetry, “literature,” and modernity: special areas of interest include romanticism, modernism, balladry (British and American), mediality, 20th- and 21st-century poetries in English, the human sciences, historiography, and the case of Scotland.  A poet and critic, she is the author of Same Life: poems (FSG, 2008) and World Enough: poems (FSG, forthcoming June 2010).  A contributing editor at Boston Review, her articles on poetry, fiction, teaching, and sexuality have appeared widely, in (e.g.) The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Review, The Washington Post, American Poet, and on the Poetry Foundation website.  In 2003 she won the National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing; she served on the Board of Directors of the NBCC, 2007-2010.  Before coming to NYU, she taught at Harvard, the University of Chicago, MIT, and the East Harlem Poetry Project.  She thinks print is not dead, nor poetry, nor the human–though regarding what the latter two might be, she remains agnostic.