Emily Lyle

Honorary Fellow


MA (St Andrews), Dip Ed (Glasgow), PhD (Leeds)

Research summary

Emily Lyle has pioneered advances in the broad history of oral culture by putting folk material such as narratives and customs together with ancient mythology (interpreted through a fresh awareness of social rootedness in family and authority roles) to come up with a new theoretical perspective, which she hopes to publish shortly in book form as "Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans", with a view to opening the way to a fuller appreciation of the oral dimension of our cultural history.

These new developments have been explored through the Traditional Cosmology Society and the SIEF working group on the Ritual Year, of which she is president, and the International Association for Comparative Mythology of which she is a vice-president. She is happy to act as a supervisor for postgraduates in this area and also in Scottish ballads and songs, which has been her other main field of study.

Traditional Cosmology Society

The SIEF working group on the Ritual Year

International Association for Comparative Mythology

She has studied a number of the Scottish song collectors of the past and, in some cases, has edited their collections. In Fairies and Folk: Approaches to the Scottish Ballad Tradition (2007), she discusses fairy ballads like "Thomas the Rhymer" and "Tam Lin" in the context of traditional beliefs and Scottish culture from the Middle Ages up to the present day.