Allan Ramsay Special Number: Scottish Literary Review
It is a pleasure to introduce the first ever journal special number devoted to Allan Ramsay (1684–1758), poet, playwright and founder of modern Scots language writing. A distinguished author in his own right, Ramsay was also arguably the most remarkable cultural entrepreneur in the literary canon: founder of the first subscription library in the British Isles, pioneer of innovation in drama and art education, inventor of the characterisation of Scots as Doric and able user of synthetic Scots.
The essays that follow were the product of a Royal Society of Edinburgh network award on 'Allan Ramsay and Edinburgh in the First Age of Enlightenment' (bit.ly/edinburgh-enlightenment) awarded from 2015 to 2017 to myself as Principal Investigator with an international and interdisciplinary team. Do try out the map! That award in its turn led to plans for two further major developments, a biography of innovation in Edinburgh 1660–1750, from Edinburgh University Press (Murray Pittock, 'Smart City') and a full textual edition of Allan Ramsay to replace the never entirely satisfactory and now very much outdated Scottish Text Society version). This too is under contract with Edinburgh University Press, and both these projects are now supported by a 2018–2023 AHRC major award of £1 million for 'The Edinburgh Ramsay Project'. [End Page v]
This issue begins with Steve Newman's discussion of the symbolism of 'Hodden-Gray' in Ramsay and its resonance throughout his work and the poetic position he adopts. Newman's approach is very much in conversation with Ronnie Young's article on Ramsay's Proverbs, which also points up how the poet created his own 'imagined community' of simplicity and authenticity in identifying his readership.
The extent of research which still requires to be done on Ramsay is clearly visible in the following articles. David McGuinness and Aaron MacGregor's piece on 'Ramsay's Musical Sources' begins the long task of exploring in detail the musical archaeology and context of Ramsay's songs and their associated collections (e.g. Stewart's 1725 volume), while Pauline Mackay's exploration of Ramsay's bawdry and Rhona Brown's examination of the periodical press reception indicate only two of many areas in which work on Ramsay could be significantly expanded. Craig Lamont explores Ramsay's place in cultural memory; Sandro Jung examines one aspect the visual reception of Ramsay, while Stuart Gillespie's sharply observed note shows us that there is new work by Ramsay in the process of discovery and identiication. [End Page vi]
MURRAY PITTOCK is Bradley Professor of English Literature and Pro Vice-Principal at the University of Glasgow. He is the founder of the Scottish Studies Global research theme at the University and founding convenor of the International Association for the Study of Scottish Literatures. He is Principal Investigator and General Editor of the AHRC Edinburgh Ramsay Project and PI of the EPSRC-AHRC Scottish Heritage Partnership Immersive Technologies project. Recent publications include Culloden (2016) and The Scots Musical Museum (2 vols, 2018). Smart City: Routing Edinburgh's Enlightenment is his next book, due out from Edinburgh University Press.