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Alumna's poetry PhD leads to Palgrave publication

Friday 2 March 2018 11:21am

Ailbhe and book cover
Dr Ailbhe McDaid

A book based on an Otago doctoral thesis by Irish Studies PhD Dr Ailbhe McDaid has been published by Palgrave MacMillian.

Ailbhe, who recently began work as an English lecturer on a short-term contract at Maynooth University, National University of Ireland, says she was thrilled to have her work accepted for publication.

Palgrave described her work The Poetics of Migration in Contemporary Irish Poetry, as important because it offered fresh critical “interpretations on two central tenets of Irish culture – migration and memory.”

Ailbhe, who received her PhD in 2015, says Otago’s Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies provided the ideal study environment in which to explore new directions in research.

How did studying at Otago help your research develop?

Studying at Otago helped my research on migration and memory in contemporary Irish poetry develop in new and interesting directions and I really appreciated the support of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies and the Department of English and Linguistics.

In terms of practical support, Otago provided excellent opportunities to pursue my research including an international doctoral scholarship, postgraduate training programs, the opportunity to build teaching experience and superb library resources. I also received financial support from various sources including the Department of English and Linguistics and the Alumni of the University of Otago in America to attend important overseas conferences to present my work on international platforms.

This support allowed me to build my research networks which has been extremely helpful in my post-PhD career to date.

Who in the faculty helped your work progress?

My supervisors Professor Peter Kuch [who is the inaugural Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies] and Professor Liam McIlvanney, supported my project throughout and their expertise was invaluable in helping my work progress.

Peter Kuch
Professor Peter Kuch

What did you enjoy about studying at Otago?

As a university city, Dunedin has a great deal to offer and I have very fond memories of my time at Otago.

Why would you recommend the Centre as a good place to study?

The Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies was a place of exceptional intellectual, collegiate and practical support in which to conduct my doctoral research. The warm and supportive atmosphere at the Centre and the excellent resources in terms of office space, library holdings and visiting speakers are second-to-none.

What are your future plans, and what other projects have you got in the offing?

In January 2018, I took up a role as Lecturer in English at Maynooth University. Since graduating from Otago in 2015, I have been working towards publication of my first monograph, The Poetics of Migration in Contemporary Irish Poetry, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in December 2017.

I am now working on a new project, Domestic Disruptions, which considers representations of women's experiences of violence in 20th-century conflict literature. I was awarded a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship by the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool in 2017 to conduct this research, and I hope to attract further external funding to continue work on the project in 2018. I also hope to be able to return to Otago at some point in the future!

To read Ailbhe's 2017 article from the Irish Times click here.

Alumni fact: Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies has been supported by the Eamon Cleary Trust since 2006. The Trust invested in the establishment of the Eamon Cleary Chair in Irish Studies, which led to the creation of the Centre for Irish Studies (soon extended to include Scottish Studies); to date it has donated NZ$1.2 million to the University. The Centre provides the only undergraduate minor in Irish Studies in Australasia and is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, offering interdisciplinary study in Irish literature, history, politics, film and theatre. Thanks to the Trust's ongoing generosity, students will now benefit from several scholarships at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

To read more about Eamon Cleary and his amazing legacy click here.