Universities in Mainz and Edinburgh cooperate in literature project on Sir Walter Scott

Funding of the German-Scottish research initiative on "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border" to the tune of EUR 500,000


The German Consulate General in Edinburgh has welcomed the inception of a joint German-Scottish research project concerning the ballads published by Scottish poet and writer Sir Walter Scott in his work "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border." The project, which is supervised by PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), is receiving over EUR 500,000 support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and Britain's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Its aim is to produce the first historical-critical edition of Scott's "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border." Sir Walter Scott first published the book with about 100 poems and songs in 1802/1803.

The Minstrelsy ballads are tales of love and war, family loyalty and betrayal, and they have become embedded in the cultural consciousness of Scotland, making them a part of Scottish identity. Scott's book also made an important contribution to Romanticism in Europe, particularly in Denmark and Germany. "We in Germany not only see Scott as the great Scottish author of historcal novels but also as the collector and publisher of Scotland's history and tales preserved in oral tradition," explains Rieuwerts. "It is just easy to understand that the Grimm brothers saw him as a spiritual brother and a friend." Rieuwerts is a lecturer in the British Studies division at the JGU Department of English and Linguistics at Mainz University. It was on her initiative that the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe was founded in May 2011 with the purpose to promote the study of Scottish literature and culture in Europe.

The German-Scottish Minstrelsy project was launched in April 2011. Two research groups are participating in the project, one from the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies of the University of Edinburgh and the other from the Department of English and Linguistics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Financial support is being provided for a period of three years. The German General Consulate is also giving support to the German-Scottish project, which will emphasize the common European heritage and significance of Scotland in both cultures. The project will not merely emphasize the bilateral relationship between Scotland and Germany but also Sir Walter Scott's importance to world literature.