PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts

Mainz becomes Centre for Scottish Studies in Europe

Society for Scottish Studies in Europe founded - First society for the promotion of Scottish Studies in Europe

In the future, a new society will deal with the promotion of studies on Scotland in Europe: the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe. It was founded at the end of May on the initiative of PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts from the Department of English and Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and aims to support the academic study of Scottish literature and culture. “We want to promote interest in Scottish culture and literature, the history and languages of the country, its art and music, and Scottish society in general with all the means at our disposal,” said Rieuwerts, who was elected the society's first president at its founding on 28 May 2011 at Schönburg in Oberwesel. Mainz will thus become the European centre for the academic study of literary and cultural topics relating to Scotland.

Rieuwerts believes the time is more than ripe for the establishment of an independent Scottish Society in mainland Europe, following the restoration of Scotland's parliament 12 years ago, which has since been concerned with domestic Scottish affairs. “Scotland is becoming more self-reliant in its pursuit of political and cultural independence and we see the development as an appropriate occasion to promote the study of Scottish culture and literature, whether in or out of school, university or non-university settings.” Rieuwerts plans to publish an annual journal, organise conferences and, most importantly, cooperate with other bodies concerned with Scotland. Requests for cooperation have already come from all over Europe, including from the German Consulate General in Edinburgh and from French and Italian associations.

After Sigrid Rieuwerts, together with her colleague from Constance, Silvia Mergenthal, chaired a separate section on Scotland at the German “Anglistentag” last year, she has now initiated the founding of the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe. The foundation took place in the context of a conference on the Scottish Sir Author Walter Scott and Scotland, which took place from 26 to 29 May in Oberwesel with domestic and foreign speakers and guests.

The conference also marked the beginning of a larger research project on Sir Walter Scott and the Scottish ballads he collected, “The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border”, which is jointly funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the British Arts and Humanities Research Council with over 500,000 euros. Rieuwerts is leading the 3-year project both in Mainz and at the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Fellow in the Celtic and Scottish Department and has her own office for her team just a few metres from Scott's childhood home. This results in many new opportunities for cooperation between the two universities, from which students also benefit, among others (internships, lecturer exchanges).

The Society for Scottish Studies in Europe, based in Bad Kreuznach, is chaired by Dr Christoph Heyl (University of Frankfurt) as Vice-President and Dr Shona Allan (University of Cologne) as Treasurer. The Advisory Board consists of Dr Stuart Kelly, Literary Editor of “Scotland on Sunday” and author of the bestseller “Scott-land: The Man who Invented a Nation” (2010), Dr Valentina Bold (University of Glasgow), Dr Gauti Kristmannsson (University of Reykjavik) and Dr Kirsten Sandrock (University of Göttingen). Sandrock will organise the next meeting of the Scotland Society with her colleagues. Their theme will be “Crime Scotland”.