LiamProfessor Liam McIlvanney

MA(Hons) (Glasgow),
DPhil (Oxon)
Stuart Chair in Scottish Studies

Phone 64 3 479 4936
Office 101
First Floor
99 Albany Street
Mail English Department
University of Otago
PO Box 56
New Zealand


Scottish literature and culture since 1707, including: Robert Burns; Scottish vernacular poetry; the Glasgow Novel; Ulster-Scots poetry; contemporary Scottish writing; Irish-Scottish literary connections; literature of the Scottish Diaspora; Scottish crime fiction.

Professor McIlvanney is Director of the University’s Scottish Studies Programme.


ENGL 241 Irish-Scots Gothic and the Gothic as Genre

ENGL 260 Tartan Noir: Scottish Crime Fiction

ENGL 341 Irish-Scots Gothic and the Gothic as Genre

ENGL 350 Contemporary Irish and Scottish Poetry

ENGL 472 Imagining Scotland


Research Supervision

I am happy to supervise in any of the areas listed above. Prospective postgraduate students should visit the Postgraduate Pages on the Scottish Studies website.

Current Research

I recently co-edited (with Ray Ryan) a collection of essays on The Good of the Novel (Faber, 2011), co-edited (with Gerard Carruthers) The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature (CUP, 2012), and co-edited (with Dougal McNeill) a special ‘Baxter and Burns’ number of the Journal of New Zealand Literature (2012). I am currently completing two articles on Scottish poetry in colonial New Zealand. My second novel, Where the Dead Men Go, was published by Faber in 2013 and won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best NZ Crime Novel in 2014.



Where the Dead Men Go (London: Faber, 2013)

Where the Dead Men Go


The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature, ed. by Gerard Carruthers and Liam McIlvanney (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature

The Good of the Novel, ed. by Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan (London: Faber, 2011)

Good Novel

All the Colours of the Town (London: Faber, 2009).


Ireland and Scotland: Culture and Society, 1700-2000, ed. by Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005)

Burns the Radical: Poetry and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2002)

Book Chapters

'The Visionary Voyages of Robert Burns', in Jacobitism, Enlightenment and Empire, 1680-1820, ed. by Allan I. Macinnes and Douglas J. Hamilton (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014), pp. 173-91

‘The Glasgow Novel’, in The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature, ed. by Gerard Carruthers and Liam McIlvanney (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 217-32

‘Across the Narrow Sea: The Language, Literature and Politics of Ulster Scots’, in Ireland and Scotland: Culture and Society, 1700-2000, ed. by Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005), pp. 171-98

Introduction to Growing Up in the West: Edwin Muir, Poor Tom; J. F. Hendry, Fernie Brae: A Scottish Childhood; Gordon M. Williams, From Scenes Like These; Tom Gallacher, Apprentice (Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 2003), vii-xxi

‘The Politics of Narrative in the Post-war Scottish Novel’, in On Modern British Fiction, ed. by Zachary Leader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 181-208

‘“Sacred Freedom”: Presbyterian Radicalism and the Politics of Robert Burns’, in Love and Liberty: Robert Burns, A Bicentenary Celebration, ed. by Kenneth Simpson (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1997), pp. 168-82

Journal Articles

‘Poems Like Hand Grenades: Baxter, Burns and Bawdry’, Journal of New Zealand Literature, 30 (2012), 29-51

‘‘Editorial’, Special Robert Burns Number, International Journal of Scottish Literature, 6 (Spring/Summer 2010)

Hugh Blair, Robert Burns and the Invention of Scottish Literature’, Eighteenth-Century Life, 29.2 (2005)

‘The Scottish Renaissance and the Irish Invasion: Literary Attitudes to Irishness in Inter-war Scotland’, Scottish Studies Review, 2.1 (Spring 2001), 77-89

‘Robert Burns and the Ulster-Scots Literary Revival of the 1790s’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 4.2 (Winter 1999 / Spring 2000), 125-43

‘“Why shouldna poor folk mowe”: Bakhtinian Folk Humour in Burns’s Bawdry’, Scottish Literary Journal, 23 (1996), 43-53

‘Robert Burns and the Calvinist Radical Tradition’, History Workshop Journal, 40 (1995), 133-49


‘A lonely Orpheus’; review of Geoffrey Miles, John Davidson and Paul Millar, The Snake-Haired Muse: James K. Baxter and Classical Myth, New Zealand Books, 97, Autumn 2012

Review of Gerard Carruthers, Scottish Literature, Scottish Literary Review, 3.2, Autumn/Winter 2011

‘The Coldest Place on Earth’; review of Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn, London Review of Books, 25 June 2009

Review of Irvine Welsh, If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work, The Guardian, 21 July 2007

‘That Time’; review of Magda Szabó, The Door, London Review of Books, 15 December 2005

‘About Myself’; Review of Karl Miller, Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg, London Review of Books, 18 November 2004

‘Give or Take a Dead Scotsman’; review of James Kelman, You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free, London Review of Books, 22 July 2004

‘Navigational Aids’; Review of Jonathan Raban, Waxwings, London Review of Books, 6 November 2003

‘Mohocks’; review of David Finkelstein, The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era, London Review of Books, 5 June 2003

‘Damn Their Celtic Twilight: Eric Linklater and a broader vision of Scottishness’; lead article, Times Literary Supplement, 11 August 2000

‘Divided we stand – Scotlands for ever’; review of Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel, Times Literary Supplement, 21 April 2000

‘A good place for art’; review of George Friel, A Glasgow Trilogy, Times Literary Supplement, 22 October 1999

‘With eyes wide open’; review of Lindsay Paterson, ed., A Diverse Assembly: The Debate on a Scottish Parliament, Times Literary Supplement, 5 March 1999

‘War in Scotch Street’; review of Maurice Leitch, The Smoke King, Times Literary Supplement, 13 March 1998

‘The fricative vigour of the demotic’; review of Duncan McLean, ed., Ahead of Its Time: A Clocktower Press Anthology, Times Literary Supplement, 15 August 1997

‘Aphorisms of emptiness’; review of Glen Duncan, Hope, Times Literary Supplement, 4 July 1997

‘Bakhtin and RLS’; review of Alan Sandison, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Appearance of Modernism, and J. R. Hammond, A Robert Louis Stevenson Chronology, Times Literary Supplement, 20 June 1997

Review of M. John Harrison, Signs of Life, Times Literary Supplement, 30 May 1997

‘More of Morvern’; review of Alan Warner, These Demented Lands, Times Literary Supplement, 4 April 1997

‘In the steps of Bible John’; review of Ian Rankin, Black and Blue, Times Literary Supplement, 28 February 1997

‘New Caledonian’; review of Harry Ritchie, ed., New Scottish Writing, Times Literary Supplement, 20 December 1996

‘A cityful of lives’; review of Robert McLiam Wilson, Eureka Street, Times Literary Supplement, 23 August 1996

‘Memories of Giacomo’; review of Carl MacDougall, The Casanova Papers, Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 1996

‘The Voices of Eros’; review of Susie Maguire and Marion Sinclair, eds, Scottish Love Stories, Times Literary Supplement, 1 March 1996

Recent Presentations

'The "Global Turn" in Burns Studies', Global Romanticism (2nd annual Romantic Studies Association of Australasia conference), University of Sydney, 5 July 2013.

'Scottish Poetry in the South Seas', George Watson Memorial Lecture, On the Edge: Transitions, Transgressions and Transformations in Irish and Scottish Studies (Joint Canadian Association for Irish Studies/Research Institute for Irish and Scottish Studies conference), Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, 19 June 2013.

‘“On Life’s rough ocean luckless starr’d”: The Visionary Voyages of Robert Burns’, Romantic Voyagers – Voyaging Romantics, Victoria University Wellington, 30 September 2012.

‘Internal Borders in Scott and Buchan’, Walter Scott: Sherriff and Outlaw (Ninth International Scott Conference), University of Wyoming, 7 July 2011.

'Imagining Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora', Inaugural Professorial Lecture, University of Otago, 13 October 2010

‘The Curious Physical: Sense and Sensation in Late Victorian Scottish Literature’, The Victorian Sensorium (The Australasian Victorian Studies Association Conference), University of Otago, 5 February 2009

‘Burns the Radical’, Guest lecture, Queen’s University Belfast, 25 January 2007

'How, Where (and Why) to Begin', AHRC Irish-Scottish Poetry Symposium, Queen’s University Belfast, 24 November 2006

‘Robert Burns and the French Revolution’, Robert Burns Conference, École Normale Supérieure, Lyon, 26 November 2004

‘Across the Narrow Sea: The Language, Literature and Politics of Ulster Scots’, The Smithsonian Institution, Great Schools Programme, Washington DC, 19 March 2004