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Stuart Chair in Scottish Studies

Liam McIlvanney image

Contact details

Tel +64 3 479 4936
Office 101, First Floor
99 Albany Street

Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand

Liam McIlvanney is the inaugural Stuart Professor of Scottish Studies and Director of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies. He holds degrees from the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. His research interests focus on modern Scottish literature, particularly the work of Robert Burns and the literature of the Scottish diaspora. His monograph, Burns the Radical, won the Saltire First Book Award in 2002. He is co-editor, with Gerard Carruthers, of the Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature (2012), and has published on various aspects of eighteenth-century Scottish literature, Ulster-Scots poetry and contemporary Scottish fiction.

Professor McIlvanney is also a crime novelist. His first novel, All the Colours of the Town, was shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Fiction Award in 2010. His second novel, Where the Dead Men Go, won the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best New Zealand Crime Novel. His third novel, The Quaker, was a Times bestseller in the UK, won the 2018 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year, was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Award and also for the Crime Writers' Association Historical Dagger Award. His most recent novel, The Heretic, was shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award and longlisted for the Theakston’s Award. His next novel, The Good Father, will be published in 2025.

A patron of the Imprint Book Festival in his native East Ayrshire, Professor McIlvanney is an honorary member of Irvine Burns Club, and holds a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow and a Waitangi Day Literary Honour from the New Zealand Society of Authors. He serves on the advisory board of Studies in Scottish Literature and as an international advisor to the Scottish Historical Review Trust. His essays and reviews have appeared in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian and the Irish Times.

Research Supervision

Professor McIlvanney welcomes research proposals in the field of modern Scottish literature and culture. He particularly welcomes proposals in the following areas: the poetry and international reception of Robert Burns; Scottish diaspora writing; the Scottish novel; Scottish crime fiction. Professor McIlvanney also offers supervision, at both Masters and PhD level, in creative writing, with particular reference to crime fiction.

Postgraduate students


Rob McDonald (enrolled 2024, MA by Thesis in Creative Practice), ‘The “Bury Your Gays” Trope and Contemporary Queer Crime Fiction’

Max Parkes (enrolled 2024, Honours dissertation), ‘Landscape in Three Novels by Cormac McCarthy’

Dannea Nelson (enrolled 2023, PhD), ‘Domesticating the Serial Killer Novel: Val McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series’

Wendy Parkins (enrolled 2021, PhD in Creative Practice), ‘Writing An Idle Woman: Archive & Imagination in Neo-Victorian Biofiction’

Sara Brown (enrolled 2018, PhD), 'The impact of Scottish education policy on students attending National Centres of Excellence'


Sue Wootton, 'Life sentences: states of paralysis and articulating recovery in literary prose'

Majella Cullinane, 'The Colours of that Place: the fundamentals of setting in Colum McCann's short fiction'

Leila Crawford, 'Cultivating space and place: Seamus Heaney's landscape poetics'

Ailbhe McDaid, 'Neither here nor there, and therefore home': A Poetics of Migration in Contemporary Irish Poetry

Daniel Milosavljevic, Piobaireachd in New Zealand: Culture, Authenticity and Localisation

Sarah Paterson, "Dirt, And Spit, And Poetry": The Changing Shape Of Kathleen Jamie's Writing

Sharon Matthews, Recasting the Feminine: Archetypes and Archetypal Figures of the Female in Two Plays by James K. Baxter

Jared Lesser, Esprit de corps[e]: Joyce, Ulysses, and the Body

Lisa McGonigle, Post-Catholic Ireland in literature and popular culture

Selected publications

Liam McIlvanney, ‘The View from the Octagon: Robert Burns in New Zealand’, in The Oxford Handbook of Robert Burns, ed. by Gerard Carruthers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024), pp. 466-480

Liam McIlvanney, The Heretic (London: Harper, 2022) 518pp

Liam McIlvanney, The Quaker (London: HarperCollins, 2018) 387pp

Liam McIlvanney, 'Cancer of Empire: The Glasgow Novel Between the Wars', in British Literature in Transition, 1920-1940: Futility and Anarchy, ed. by Charles Ferrall and Dougal McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 242-58

Liam McIlvanney, 'Scottish Poetry in the South Seas: John Barr at the Edge of the Map', Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, 8.1 (2017), 5-31

Liam McIlvanney, '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

Liam McIlvanney and Graham Tulloch, 'Sciascia and Rankin: Detective Fiction in Sicilian and Scottish Modes', in Scotland and Sicily: Where Extremes Meet, ed. by Graham Tulloch, Karen Agutter and Lucian D'Arcangeli (Leicester: Troubador, 2014), pp. 20-31

Liam McIlvanney, '“They Gang in Stirks and Come Out Asses”: Creative Writing and Scottish Studies', Studies in Scottish Literature, 40.1 (2014), 7-14

Liam McIlvanney, Where the Dead Men Go (London: Faber, 2013) 344pp

Liam McIlvanney, '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

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

Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan, eds, The Good of the Novel (London: Faber, 2011) 225pp


McIlvanney, L. (2024). The view from the Octagon: Robert Burns in New Zealand. In G. Carruthers (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Robert Burns. (pp. 464-478). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198846246.001.0001 Chapter in Book - Research

McIlvanney, L. (2022). The heretic. HarperCollins, 528p. [Novel]. Creative Work

MacDonald, C., Wilkie, B., Wallace, V., McIlvanney, L., Stenhouse, J., & Goldie, D. (2019, December). Scotland’s colony? To what extent was Otago a Scottish colony? How does Otago complicate our understanding of Scotland’s involvement in empire? Panel discussion at the Scotland's Colony? Rethinking Otago's Caledonian Connections Symposium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

McDermid, V., McIlvanney, L., Tiernan, S. (October, 2019) Brexit and beyond: Boarders, backstops and Boris. MindJam. Yonder, Queenstown, New Zealand. [Public Discussion]. Other Research Output

McIlvanney, L. (2018). The quaker. London, UK: HarperCollins, 389p. [Novel]. Creative Work

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