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Updated 03/22/2017


Alistair Fergus Ewan
William Donaldson

William Donaldson (above) is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen (M.A., Ph.D.) and worked for twenty five years with Britain’s Open University before coming to M.I.T. as a visiting lecturer in 2010.  He has written on the political song culture of the Scottish Jacobites, tracing the creation of the semi-mythical figure “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.  He pioneered the use of newspaper sources to study the popular culture of Victorian Scotland and in particular its use of vernacular Scots to deal with the whole range of the contemporary world.  He has written also in the field of traditional music, being author of two books on the music and history of the Highland bagpipe.  He is currently at work on an online variorum edition of pìobaireachd (the classical music of the pipes) which returns to the original manuscript and early printed sources, very cavalierly interpreted—when not actually ignored—by the compilers of the “official” published edition.   He is the author of several prize-winning books:  Popular Literature in Victorian Scotland (Aberd. 1986) which won the Blackwell Prize; The Jacobite Song (Aberd.1988) which won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and was runner-up for the Folklore Society’s Katherine Briggs Memorial Prize; and The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society (Edinr., 2000, with later editions 2008, 2013) which was voted joint Research Book of the Year by the Saltire Society.  In 2013 he joined a number of leading Scottish writers in being elected an honorary member of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

Alistair Fergus Ewan is named for the son of a friend of Dr. Donaldson.  He notes that it is a “young man’s tune” and the first tune that he was ever satisfied with, “although it perhaps smacks too obviously of raw ambition.”