A Burns’ Night Supper: Celebrating Scotland’s National Bard with Dr. Jenny Litster - Context Travel

A Burns’ Night Supper: Celebrating Scotland’s National Bard with Dr. Jenny Litster


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The birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns on January 25th is a day of national–and now global–celebration. Whether a poetry lover, a Scot in exile, or a Sassenach, join literary historian, Dr. Jenny Litster, in Edinburgh for a special Burns’ Night Conversation.

Born into a poor, itinerant farming family in 1759, “Rabbie” Burns had a modest education. He worked as a laborer, a clerk, and an exciseman while writing poetry. His initial goal was to save up money to leave Scotland for Jamaica, but the success of his Kilmarnock volume in 1786 changed his plans and the direction of his life. Burns made his way to Enlightenment Edinburgh, where he was lionized (and sentimentalized) as the “heaven-taught plowman.” His poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, were published to great acclaim. In this seminar, we will begin by looking at the life of the man behind the verse.

Burns’ poetic output was diverse: lyrics for traditional folk airs such as Auld Lang Syne; poignant love songs, Ae Fond Kiss, A Red, Red Rose; biting social and religious satires To a Louse, Holy Willie’s Prayer; political anthems of equality and democracy A Man’s a Man for a’ That; and his masterpiece, Tam O’Shanter, a narrative about a drunk man, a short shirt (“cutty sark”) and a mare’s tail. This seminar will look more closely at the works that established Burns’ literary reputation as a pioneer Romantic poet, a radical thinker, and a nationalist.

Robert Burns died at the age of 37 in 1796. The final part of this seminar will look at Burns’ legacy and how his “immortal memory” shapes a part of Scottish national identity, perhaps especially for those who left Scotland for new lives abroad. We’ll look at the growth of Burns’ Societies and Burns’ status as a cultural icon. Finally, we’ll gather together to hold our own Burns’ Night Supper (or at least to learn the correct way to address a haggis!)

Led by an expert on Scottish history, Jenny Litster, this interactive seminar will explore Scottish National poet, Robert Burns. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the life of this great poet and his importance in contemporary Scottish culture.

Born and raised in the Scottish Borders, Jenny moved to Edinburgh in the late 1980s to study History and English Literature. She later completed a Ph.D. on the Scottish context of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery at the University of Edinburgh, where she also taught American History. Jenny worked in adult education research and policy at the Institute of Education, London for over a decade, living in Edinburgh and traveling regularly to Europe. Her main interests lie in Scottish literature, culture, and folklore and in children’s books. 

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

    Customer Reviews

    Based on 2 reviews
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    S.M.
    Burns Night

    Dr.Litster dos a great job of talking about Scottish traditions. I familiarized myself with Burns works before this seminar and what Dr. Lister talked about complements the poems I had read. This is my second seminar with her and if she did others, I would attend.

    I loved hearing Burns poems set to music, like Comin' through the Rye. I

    K
    K.S.
    Rollicking seminar

    This Conversation was great fun! Dr Litster always presents her seminars with a wealthy of knowledge, but this one was particularly fine. I eagerly look forward to seeing more from her on her return.

    Customer Reviews

    Based on 2 reviews
    100%
    (2)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    S
    S.M.
    Burns Night

    Dr.Litster dos a great job of talking about Scottish traditions. I familiarized myself with Burns works before this seminar and what Dr. Lister talked about complements the poems I had read. This is my second seminar with her and if she did others, I would attend.

    I loved hearing Burns poems set to music, like Comin' through the Rye. I

    K
    K.S.
    Rollicking seminar

    This Conversation was great fun! Dr Litster always presents her seminars with a wealthy of knowledge, but this one was particularly fine. I eagerly look forward to seeing more from her on her return.