Professor Cairns Craig

Professor Cairns Craig
Professor Cairns Craig
Professor Cairns Craig


The Glucksman Chair of Irish & Scottish Studies

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 273681
Office Address
HMF3 Humanity Manse Office Hours: Thursday 12pm - 1pm
School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History


Cairns Craig is Glucksman Professor of Irish and Scottish Studies, and is Director both of the second phase of the AHRC-funded Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies (2006-10). He rejoined the University of Aberdeen in 2005, having been a lecturer in the 1970s, after a long career in the University of Edinburgh, where he was Head of the English Literature Department 1997-2003, during the period when it achieved 5* rating in the Research Assessment Exercise. He was also Director for the Centre for the History of Ideas in Scotland.

He has published widely on Scottish and modernist literature, including Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry (1982), Out of History : Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture (1996), The Modern Scottish Novel (1999). His most recent books are Associationism and the Literary Imagination: From the Phantasmal Chaos (2007) and Intending Scotland: Explorations in Scottish Culture since the Enlightenment (2009). He has also written an introduction to Iain Banks’s Complicity (2002).

He was general editor of the four volume History of Scottish Literature (1987-89) and general editor of the determinations series published by Edinburgh University Press from 1987 – 1997, which included titles such as Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull’s The Eclipse of Scottish Culture (1987), Alexander Broadie’s The Tradition of Scottish Philosophy, Christopher Harvie’s Cultural Weapons: Scotland and Survival in a New Europe, as well as Forward!: Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988, edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian S. Wood; The Manufacture of Scottish History, edited by Ian Donnachie and Christopher Whatley; and Scotland’s Claim of Right, edited by Owen Dudley Edwards. He was also an editor of the Canongate Classics series, in which he published (with Randall Stevenson) An Anthology of Twentieth Century Scottish Drama.

He was on the editorial board of the influential arts magazine Cencrastus, from its founding in 1981 till 1987; he was an associate editor of Radical Scotland from 1988, and was the publisher of Edinburgh Review from 2001–05. Through Edinburgh Review he was responsible for publications such as Angela McSeveney’s Imprint, George Davie’s Ferrier and the Blackout of the Scottish Enlightenment, and Peter Manson’s Adjunct: An Undigest.

He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 2001, of the British Academy since 2005 and was awarded an OBE for services to Literature and Education in 2007.

External Memberships

AHRC peer review panellist, British Academy grants officer.


Research Overview

Irish-Scottish cultural relations from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries (MacPherson to Yeats in poetry, Sterne to Kelman in the novel, Hutcheson to MacIntyre in philosophy)

The ‘lyrical epic’ in modern poetry (Yeats to Muldoon)

Late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Scottish thought (William Thomson, Peter Guthrie Tait, James Clerk Maxwell, John Ferguson McLennan, William Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer, Patrick Geddes, Edward Caird, Andrew Seth, John Laird, Norman Kemp Smith)

Contemporary Scottish writing (especially Iain Banks, A.L. Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Alan Warner)

Scottish women writers of the inter-war period (Nan Shepherd, Catherine Carswell, Naomi Mitchison, Willa Muir).

Graduate students interested in working in any of these areas, or in connected areas, should contact him by email at


Current Research

I am currently working on a book on Muriel Spark, a history of the Scottish novel since the eighteenth century, and a biography of the Scottish sociologist Robert Morrison  MacIver, who taught sociology in the University of Aberdeen before the First World War and who held professorships at the University of Toronto and at Columbia, New York. My work on MacIver is part of a project on 'Intellectual Migrants' run by the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, and which is exploring the role of Scottish and Irish university graduates in the development of educational institutions in North America and in Australasia.


Page 1 of 5 Results 1 to 10 of 42

  • 525 Years in the Pursuit of Truth Podcast: The Influence of Prof. Herbert J.C. Grierson, 1866-1960

    Bow, C. (ed.), Craig, C.
    Non-textual Forms: Digital or Visual Products
  • Muriel Spark, Existentialism and The Art of Death

    Craig, C.
    Edinburgh University Press. 232 pages
    Books and Reports: Books
  • The Wealth of the Nation: Scotland, Culture and Indpendence

    Craig, R. C.
    Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. 306 pages
    Books and Reports: Books
  • Botanic Gardens and the Aesthetics of Artifice

    Craig, C.
    Journal of Scottish Thought, vol. 9, pp. 95-109
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • James Robertson: In the Margins of History

    Craig, R. C.
    The Contemporary British Novel Since 2000. Acheson, J. (ed.). Edinburgh University Press, pp. 163-173, 10 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • The Art of Uncertainty: Forms of Omniscience in the Novels of Robin Jenkins

    Craig, R. C.
    The Fiction of Robin Jenkins: Some Kind of Grace. Brill Rodopi, pp. 67-89, 22 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • Edwin Morgan's Poetry from Scotland

    Craig, C.
    The International Companion to Edwin Morgan. Riach, A. (ed.). Association of Scottish Literary Studies, pp. 59-86, 28 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • Alexander Bain, Associationism and Scottish Philosophy

    Craig, C.
    Scottish Philosophy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Graham, G. (ed.). Oxford University Press, pp. 95-118, 24 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • Herbert Grierson and the Making of Modern Poetry

    Craig, R. C.
    Vita Mea: The Autobiography of Herbert Grierson. Craig, C. (ed.). Aberdeen University Press, pp. vi-lxxxvii, 82 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • The modern scottish novel

    Craig, C.
    A Companion to British Literature. De Maria Jr., R., Chang, H., Zacher, S. (eds.). Wiley, pp. 404-423, 20 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications

Non-textual Forms