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24 October 2021

Association for Scottish Literary Studies


ASLS is based in the University of Glasgow and promotes the study, teaching and writing of Scotland's literatures and languages, past and present.

We publish scholarly journals and literary criticism; new editions of classic works of Scottish literature; companions and study guides; and - with the support of Creative Scotland - New Writing Scotland, an annual anthology of the best new short fiction and poetry in Scotland today, in English, Gaelic and Scots. We also publish the free ezine The Bottle Imp.

Each year, ASLS holds annual conferences on Scottish writers in such diverse locations as Glasgow, Kirkwall, Edinburgh and Skye. We also hold annual conferences on Scottish literature and languages in the classroom. These schools conferences are suitable for CPD (Continuous Professional Development), and attract teachers from across Scotland.

Along with other Scottish literary organisations, and with the support of the Scottish Government, ASLS campaigns for a greater appreciation, at home and abroad, of Scotland's literary culture.

Established: 1970

Publications (yearly average): 8

Types of books published: Classic works of Scottish literature which merit a fresh presentation to a modern audience; anthologies of new Scottish writing in English, Gaelic and Scots; collections of essays and monographs on the literature and languages of Scotland; comprehensive study guides to Scottish writers. ASLS membership is open to all. In 2020, a subscription of £60.00 (individuals) or £90.00 (corporate) buys: one Annual Volume; the latest edition of New Writing Scotland; Scottish Literary Review (2 issues); Scottish Language (1 issue). Special packages for schools and students are also available.

Submission details: Submissions are invited to New Writing Scotland. Please see the ASLS website for detailed submission instructions.


People: Duncan Jones (Director)

Address: Dept of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow, 7 University Gardens, Glasgow G12 8QH

Tel/Fax: 0141 330 5309





Twitter: @scotlit

Distributor: BookSource, 50 Cambuslang Road, Cambuslang, Glasgow G32 8NB; Tel: 0845 370 0067; Fax: 0845 370 0068



The Association for Scottish Literary Studies - ASLS - reached its fiftieth year in 2020 and we had been planning to celebrate the event. Sadly we were not able to - but we did hold a (virtual) celebratory conference on Saturday 5 September 2021, where we looked back at how far we have come, took stock of where we are now, and looked forward to future opportunities and challenges. Professor Rory Watson gave us an overview of the Association's history; Dr Maureen Farrell and Professor Kirsteen McCue looked at our role in education, in schools and universities; Professors Michelle Macleod and Robert McColl Millar surveyed our work in Gaelic and Scots; Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, summarised the huge changes in publishing and the book trade over the past fifty years; and the poet and novelist James Robertson gave us a writer's perspective of ASLS's work and the state of Scottish literature in general.

ASLS's publishing programme began in 1971, with our first Annual Volume - an edition of James Hogg's The Three Perils of Man, edited by Douglas Gifford. We've maintained the Annual Volume series ever since, with only occasional slippage (the fiftieth volume, Dràma na Gàidhlig: Ceud Bliadhna Air an Àrd-Ùrlar / A Century of Gaelic Drama, edited by Michelle Macleod, was published earlier this year), and it makes an impressive collection, covering fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama, from the medieval to the modern, written in English, Gaelic, Latin, and Scots.

The publication portfolio was expanded to include scholarly journals, supporting a growing international interest in the study of Scotland's unique and multilingual literary culture. In 1983, with support from the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland), ASLS brought out New Writing Scotland, edited by James Aitchison and Alexander Scott - a collection of new poetry and short fiction. 1984 saw the appearance of New Writing Scotland 2, and another series was born. Over the years New Writing Scotland has helped to introduce readers to a startling number of major Scottish talents (space does not permit a listing here, but - to drop just a couple of names - that second volume saw the first publication in book form of both Ian Rankin and Ali Smith; oh, and Iain Banks was in number one). The series is still supported by Creative Scotland, and continues to this day: submissions are currently being received for what will be our fortieth edition, due out in summer 2022.

Another ASLS series that began in the 1980s was our Scotnotes study guides. Our Education Committee, made up in large part of teachers of English, knew from direct experience that there was a dearth of material to support pupils and teachers who wanted to study works by Scottish writers. The first Scotnote, on Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song, appeared in 1986. In August this year we published the forty-second Scotnote, on Rona Munro's play Bold Girls. Each volume is edited by, and often written by, people with direct classroom experience, and the texts covered run the gamut from the fifteenth century Makars to contemporary works. In many respects, Scotnotes are our most influential publications, giving help and reassurance for more than thirty years to wavering pupils - and teachers! - who want to study Scotland's literature.

The work of the Association continues. Our Schools Conferences offer CPD to teachers in drama, language, and literature; our Annual Conferences develop links with writers and academics around the world. Our free ezine, The Bottle Imp, publishes articles and book reviews, and for fifteen years we ran an annual exhibition at the MLA Convention, the largest academic literary and linguistic conference in the USA, promoting Scottish literature - ancient and modern, classic and contemporary - as a subject area worthy of study, with its own cultures, traditions, and interconnections. It's been a long road, and sometimes it's been hard going - but at every step we've had the support of readers, writers, teachers, academics; freelancers, printers, distributors, booksellers; publishers, organisations, festivals, and funders. Thank you to you all; quite literally, we could not do it - we would not be here - without you. Here's health to all. Here's to the next fifty - and counting.


Retrieving and Renewing

Edwin Morgan


a poem for ASLS


Forget your literature? - forget your soul.

If you want to see your country hale and whole

Turn back the pages of fourteen hundred years.

Surely not? Oh yes, did you expect woad and spears?

In Altus Prosator the bristly blustery land

Bursts in buzz and fouth within a grand

Music of metrical thought. Breathes there the man

With soul so dead-? Probably! But a scan

Would show his fault was ignorance:

Don't follow him. Cosmic circumstance

Hides in nearest, most ordinary things.

Find Scotland - find inalienable springs.