Mainz becomes the European center of Scottish Studies

Foundation of the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe to promote and foster the interest in Scottish culture, history and literature


The "Society for Scottish Studies in Europe" has recently been established to focus on the support of Scottish Studies in Europe. It was founded at the end of May 2011 on the initiative of Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts of the Department of English and Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) with the aim of promoting an academic focus on Scottish literature and culture. "We want to generate and foster the interest in Scottish culture and literature, the history and the languages of the country, its art and music, and the Scottish society as a whole – with all the means at our disposal," Rieuwerts stated at the foundation ceremony held on 28 May 2011 in Schönburg castle in Oberwesel, where she was appointed first president of the Society. Mainz has thus become the European center of academic interest in the literary and cultural issues relating to all aspects of Scotland.

Rieuwerts considers it was high time for a dedicated Scottish Society to be founded on mainland Europe, taking into account that Scotland formed its own parliament again twelve years ago, which has been dealing with internal Scottish issues ever since. "Scotland is becoming increasingly autonomous as it works towards political and cultural independence, and we see this development as reason enough to promote interest in Scottish culture and literature, both inside and outside schools as well as inside and outside the academic community." Rieuwerts plans to publish an annual report, to organize meetings and, in particular, to engage in cooperation with other institutions with a focus on Scotland. Inquiries regarding cooperation have already been received from all over Europe; among these were requests originating from the German Consulate General in Edinburgh as well as from French and Italian associations.

After Sigrid Rieuwerts and her Constance colleague Silvia Mergenthal led a delegation specializing in Scotland at last year's "Deutscher Anglistentag," the convention of university professors of English in German speaking countries, Rieuwerts has now taken the next logical step and founded the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe. The foundation ceremony was held during a conference on Sir Walter Scott and Scotland in Oberwesel, attended by national and international speakers and guests.

This conference also marked the initiation of a major research project on Sir Walter Scott and the Scottish ballads collected by him - "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border". The project is being funded jointly by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the British Arts and Humanities Research Council to the tune of more than €500,000. Rieuwerts will be heading the three-year project both in Mainz and at the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Fellow in the Celtic and Scottish Department and where her team's office is just a few meters from Scott's childhood home. All this opens up a whole host of additional cooperation possibilities between the two universities, which will also benefit students in the form of internships and lecturer exchange.