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About 100 people attended the lecture ''Robert Burns' Songs of Love and Courtship in Marama Hall at the University of Otago as part of the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival.
University of Glasgow regius chair of English language and literature Prof Nigel Leask explored the poet's works.
''Tonight is a celebration of the man whose statue dominates Dunedin's Octagon.''
The lecture was illustrated by songs and musical accompaniments from students of the university's Department of Music.
Prof Leask estimated nearly half of the more than 370 songs written by the poet and lyricist were love songs.
Love was the starting point for Burns' ''poetification'', Prof Leask said.
''The Burns songs of love and courtship focused on love as a living and breathing force.''
Prof Leask's most recent book, Robert Burns and Pastoral: Poetry and Improvement in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland, won the Saltire Prize for the best Scottish research book of 2010.
He is completing the first edited collection of Burns' prose writings for the Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns.
Prof Leask made a disclaimer last night before reciting a Burns poem about male hares.
''I wish Billy Connolly was here to read it but I'll do my best. There's a rude word in it, which I'm not going to apologise for.''
The word rhymed with bucks.