Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Talking about my research: and a little bit about Obama...

While I have spent the last academic year writing up my book, I have given seminars and papers on my research - which have been great for getting to meet other academics working in similar fields. In February I gave a talk at KCL's American Studies graduate seminar: 'Family feeling: the American-Irish cultural inheritance in Fitzgerald, O'Neill, Steinbeck and others'. Then in April I spent a month on a Visiting Fellowship at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Dublin, where I carried out archival research and met with fellows working in similar fields: I even met an academic working in children's literature to whom I recommended the children's stories of the early twentieth century Irish-American writer Padraic Colum. Colum's Hawaiian stories ended up being a present for Barack Obama when he visited Ireland in May! I was excited to be a small part of the story... And lastly, in July I gave a paper at the annual Transatlantic Studies Association conference (this time, it was held in Dundee). It was exciting to be on a panel dedicated entirely to Irish-American transatlantic poetics: my paper discussed the ways in which American modernist writers 'translated' the Irish landscape in their poetry. The programme was suitably varied; my panel (as is often the case!) was on the last morning...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Comparative American Studies special issue: 'The idea of influence in American literature'

This summer I was excited to see the publication of a 'special issue' of Comparative American Studies on 'The idea of influence in American literature', for which I wrote the introduction. We had a launch party at the end of June at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford. The journal issue followed on from a conference I organised in Oxford last year. The articles cover an exciting range of topics from the beginnings of American literature to the present day.

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

My PhD focused on a poet who deserves to be much more widely known in the UK: Marianne Moore. I continue to find her methods and interests fascinating: her poems cover subjects from baseball to botany, and her syllabic poetry can be awe-inspiring. My PhD (completed 2007/8) was entitled '"Irish by descent": Marianne Moore, Irish writers, and the American-Irish inheritance'.

The main focus of my PhD was Moore's interests in Irish writers and writing, and her claim of 'Irish descent', which she made in a letter to Ezra Pound in 1919. An overview of these ideas can be found in an article, 'Irish by descent? Marianne Moore's American-Irish inheritance', which is available online in the Irish Journal of American Studies.

My PhD has also generated further articles and chapters: one discusses Moore's relationship with Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw; another focuses on Moore's 1941 poem 'Spenser's Ireland' in relation to Irish and American politics during World World II; and the third looks at how Moore re-wrote the Anglo-Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth's 1812 novel The Absentee as a play in 1954.

For more information on these publications, please refer to my webpage on Oxford's English Faculty website.