The International Association for the Study of Scottish Literatures (IASSL) was launched at the conference committee of the first World Congress of Scottish Literatures, held in Glasgow in 2014. to promote the teaching and study of Scottish literatures in tertiary education worldwide. It represents the culmination of decades of growth in the study of Scotland and literatures, from the first publication of Studies in Scottish Literature more than fifty years ago, through the creation of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS) in the 1970s, the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society (ECSSS) in the 1980s, the Scottish Literature discussion group at the Modern Language Association in 2000, and the Society for Scottish Studies in Europe. As Scottish Studies has grown, so too there has been an expansion in national and global collaborations between universities, in terms of teaching, staff exchange and research projects. As a global association, IASSL firmly aligns Scottish literature’s future with this well-established international agenda.
What should the aims of such an Association be, and how should they be conducted? First, it is vital to stress that there is no intention that the Association will seek to duplicate or set the agenda for colleagues in existing societies: it will extend and expand the reach of Scottish literature, not limit or restrict it. The partnership of the Congress with ASLS (publisher of Scottish Literary Review), ECSSS, International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL), the Robert Burns World Federation, Scottish Historical Review, Studies in Scottish Literature and major universities in Canada, the Czech Republic, New Zealand and the USA emphasizes the need to grow Scottish Studies through collaboration, engagement and exchange.
In providing a framework for the planning and support of future World Congresses, IASSL will help to ensure that Scottish Literature’s status as a national literature is internationally recognized and promoted as widely as possible. IASSL will also provide a hub for raising concerns about international issues related to the study and teaching of Scottish literature, and will give a particular priority to themes: examples include international research projects, promoting the possibilities of exchange or joint MA or PhD programmes in Scottish literature and providing a web-based forum for those studying Scottish literature outwith a Scottish context to reflect on their experience. IASSL exemplifies a core tradition of intellectual enquiry and practice which is both Scottish and international: that of the Enlightenment application of reason to knowledge in the context of material improvement.
IASSL is registered as a Scottish charity, SC044410, for the purposes of the advancement of education, the arts, heritage and culture. Subscriptions from UK taxpayers can be gift aided to Scottish charities, providing a 28% uplift in income to IASSL. The Scottish registration of the charity does not imply that the office holders of the Association would all be based in Scotland, and indeed the Constitution which our Advisory Board have agreed prevents this from being possible; the Constitution has also been approved by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).