Otago Irish Studies

Welcome to Irish Studies

yeats tower


Céad míle fáilte to Irish Studies at the University of Otago. We are delighted to be able to offer a suite of papers that can be taken individually or in a combination that meets the requirements for a minor.

Irish Studies at Otago is an interdisciplinary study of the literature, history, film and theatre of the island of Ireland over the past two hundred years. While it focuses on issues such as identity, ethnicity, and 'nation building', and the history of their contestation, it also pays attention to Ireland's relationships with New Zealand, Europe and Australia.

From being subject to the British Empire and thus a major source-country for the European settlement of New Zealand, Ireland has become a wealthy, technologically advanced, highly educated and culturally sophisticated European nation.

Although the University of Otago is the only university in Australasia that offers an undergraduate minor, there is a strong postgraduate community here. We also have a post-doctoral colleague.

Please contact us if you would like to take one of the papers, enrol in the Minor, or do post-graduate work in Literature, History, Theatre, and Film.

You are most welcome.





Recent News

LCIS Lectures in Irish Studies, Peter Kuch 'Joyce's Ulysses and the Law: Sex, Divorce and Issues of Public Morality'
You are all cordially invited to the first LCIS lecture of 2018-2019 which will be given by Peter Kuch (University of Otago) on Joyce's Ulysses and the Law—Sex, Divorce and issues of Public Morality on Thursday 11 October at 5 pm in the Jos Creten Room (LETT 01.52).

Boston College: Morrissey College of Arts and Social Sciences, Peter Kuch lecture, 16 October, 4.30pm - 6.30pm
Professor Peter Kuch speaks about this recent book on divorce in Joyce's Ulysses. Bloom's "Divorce, not now" and Molly's "suppose I divorced him"—whether whim, wish, fantasy, or conviction—reflect a forgotten Irish practice of petitioning the English courts for divorce that Professor Kuch uncovers in his reappraisal of marriage in Ulysses. Peter Kuch is the inaugural Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He has published widely on Yeats, Joyce, Eliot, Irish theatre, Irish and Australian film, literary theory and Irish/Australian history. More information here.

Friday Seminar: Louis De Paor, 'A non-poet writing non-poetry in non-Irish for non-people: introducing Seán Ó Ríordáin'

Editor, researcher, and well-known Irish poet Louis De Paor presents on the famous Irish poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, Friday 28 September, 4pm in Castle seminar room D.

De Paor has been Director of the Centre for Irish Studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway, since 2000.

His published works include a monograph on the work of Máirtín Ó Cadhain, an anthology of twentieth-century poetry in Irish, Coiscéim na haoise seo, co-edited with Seán Ó Tuama, and has edited bilingual and critical editions of Irish poets selected poetry. He was Jefferson Smurfit Distinguished Fellow at the University of St Louis-Missouri in 2002 and received the Charles Fanning medal from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2009. He was Visiting Professor of Celtic Studies at Sydney University in 1993, a Fulbright Scholar at New York University in 2013 and the University of California, Berkeley in 2014, and Burns Scholar at Boston College in 2016.

His most recent research project is a critical anthology of twentieth-century poetry in Irish with English translations, Leabhar Na hAthghabhála: Poems of Repossession (Bloodaxe 2016).


Louis De Paor: Poems of Repossession: Twentieth-century Poetry in Irish, 25 September 2018 6:30pm — 8:30pm in the Dunningham Suite, Dunedin Public Library

Sponsored by the Centre for Scottish and Irish Studies, Louis De Paor speaks on modern and contemporary Irish poetry, and his experience of editing anthologies and critical editions of twentieth-century Irish poets.


Fintan O'Toole at the University of Otago, 6 September 2018

Fintan O'Toole in Burns 1, 2018

Audio of Fintan O'Toole's talk can be heard at this link (public; no login required). Many thanks to everyone who came along!




Fintan O'Toole in Auckland

From left to right: Denise Flanagan, Honorary Vice Consul; Cathy O'Sullivan, Chair of Irish Business Network of New Zealand; Fintan O'Toole, guest of the Eamon Cleary Trust, Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Otago; and Peter Kuch, Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies, University of Otago

Fintan O'Toole spoke today with Kathryn Ryan, on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme. The podcast of the interview can be accessed here. O'Toole speaks in Dunedin this evening, 6 September.




Fintan O'Toole Lectures - Auckland 3 September, Dunedin 6 September





Leading Irish public intellectual and journalist Fintan O'Toole will be speaking on Brexit and the Irish context, in both Auckland and Dunedin, in early September.

The Dunedin lecture takes place Thursday 6 September, 6.30pm, in Burns 1 Lecture Theatre on the University of Otago campus. Poster in pdf form here (753kb).

The Auckland lecture is on Monday 3 September, 5.30pm, in the PWC building, 188 Quay Street. This lecture is ticketed: information about purchasing a ticket can be found here. Poster in pdf form here (87kb).


Secretary of State Visits

As part of his week-long visit to New Zealand, the Rt Hon David Mundall MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland, visited the Irish and Scottish Studies Centre to meet Irish and Scottish post-graduate students and learn about the Centre's promotion of Scottish literature, history and culture.



Dublin James Joyce Summer School

The Dublin James Joyce Summer School will run from 1st July-8th July 2018. Professor Peter Kuch is one of the invited lecturers.


The latest cohort of Irish Studies postgraduate students were recently profiled in the Alumni News section of the University of Otago website.

Professor Peter Kuch recently gave a lecture entitled "Ulysses and the hidden history of Irish Divorce, 1857–1922," at Concordia University, in Montreal, based on his recent publication Irish Divorce / Joyce's Ulysses. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences wrote a article in anticipation of the lecture, which you can read here.


Public Lecture: Professor Stephanie Schwerter, From Pushkin to Pasternak – Seamus Heaney's Passion for Russia

The Eamon Cleary Trust and the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies are pleased to host a lecture by Stephanie Schwerter (Professor of Anglophone Literature, University of Valenciennes, France), entitled "From Pushkin to Pasternak – Seamus Heaney's Passion for Russia". Previously, Professor Schwerter taught translation studies and comparative literature at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and chaired the German-French translation programme at the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'Homme in Paris. Before moving to France in 2008, she lived in Northern Ireland and worked at the University of Ulster and at Queen's University, Belfast. She is the author of Northern Irish Poetry and the Russian Turn: Intertextuality in the work of Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Medbh McGuckian (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). In addition to numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters she has co-edited Bridging Cultures: Intercultural Mediation in Literature, Linguistics and the Arts (Ibidem, 2012) and Transmissibility and Cultural Transfer: Dimensions of Translation in the Humanities (2014). Her current research is for a book to be entitled Belfast, Beirut and Berlin in Contemporary Film.

Professor Schwerter is also presenting at the Department of Media, Film and Communication.












Private meeting with A Shoilse / His Excellency, The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, on the occasion of his state visit to New Zealand.

Recently, our inaugural Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies, Professor Peter Kuch, met with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, during his state visit to New Zealand (the first head of state to meet with our new Prime Minister). In his address at the state dinner, President Higgins made specific mention of Peter's recent monograph in the context of the impressive amount of research about the Irish contribution to New Zealand. Indeed the whole address is worth watching, which you can do here:



Eamon Cleary Honours, Undergraduate, and Postgraduate Scholarships for 2018

Established in 2016 by the University of Otago Council from a generous donation by the Eamon Cleary Trust, the Eamon Cleary Trust Study Scholarships were created to support University of Otago students undertaking research in Irish Studies at postgraduate level, and support students undertaking courses in Irish Studies. Three scholarships are available, the Undergraduate Study Scholarship (applicants must be enrolled in a paper that is a component of the Irish Studies minor programme at 200-level or above at the University of Otago for the year of the award), the Honours Scholarship (applicants must be enrolled in a 400-level paper with an Irish Studies focus), and the Postgraduate Study Scholarship (applicants must be enrolled in a Doctoral or Research Masters programme in Irish Studies at the University of Otago for the year of the award; please discuss your proposed application with Professor Peter Kuch, Eamon Cleary Chair in Irish Studies ahead of submitting your documentation to the Scholarships Office).

Applications close 1 November, 2017.





Public Lecture: Professor John McCourt, 'The Island and beyond: Irish (literary) Studies in a transnational world'

Wednesday, 20 September, 5.30pm, Burns 4

John McCourt is Professor of English at the University of Macerata. He previously taught at the Università Roma Tre where he was director of CRISIS (the center for research in Irish and Scottish literature) and at the University of Trieste (where he co-founded and continues to co-direct the Trieste Joyce School). In this talk, Professor McCourt analyses how modern Irish (literary) studies are navigating a transnational world.

He is the author of many books and articles on James Joyce and the 19th and 20th century Irish literature including The Years of Bloom: Joyce in Trieste 1904 - 1920 (2000). In 2009, his edited collection, James Joyce in Context, was published by Cambridge University Press. In the same year he published Biographical Issues: The Many Lives of Yeats and Joyce (Bulzoni). This was followed by Roll Away the Reel World: James Joyce and Cinema (Cork University Press (2010).) He is a Trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation and a member of the Academic Board of the Yeats Summer School. In 2015 he published Writing the Frontier Anthony Trollope from Britain and Ireland (Oxford University Press). He recently co-edited Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority with Paul Fagan and Ruben Borg (Cork University Press) and is currently editing a collection of essays on Brendan Behan.





Recent publication

A new book by the Eamon Cleary Chair in Irish Studies, Professor Peter Kuch, is is now available in hardback and ebook formats.  See the recent Irish Times extract from Professor Kuch's book, and the Irish Times review from Terence Killeen.Kuch Irish Divorce cover

Irish Divorce / Joyce’s Ulysses

Published by Palgrave Macmillan • ISBN 978-1-349-95187-1 www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781349951871

This engrossing, ground-breaking book challenges the long-held conviction that prior to the second divorce referendum of 1995 Irish people could not obtain a divorce that gave them the right to remarry. Joyce knew otherwise. Obtaining a decree absolute in Edwardian Ireland, rather than separation from bed and board, was possible. Bloom’s “Divorce, not now” and Molly’s “suppose I divorced him”—whether whim, wish, fantasy, or conviction—reflects an Irish practice of petitioning the English court, a ruse that, even though it was known to lawyers, judges, and politicians at the time, has long been forgotten. By drawing attention to divorce as one response to adultery, Joyce created a domestic and legal space in which to interrogate the sometimes rival and sometimes collusive Imperial and Ecclesiastical hegemonies that sought to control the Irish mind. This compelling, original book provides a refreshingly new frame for enjoying Ulysses even as it prompts the general reader to think about relationships and about the politics of concealment that operate in forging national identity.



Eamon Cleary Undergraduate and Honours Scholarships - 2016

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Eamon Cleary Scholarships!

James McCulloch was awarded the undergraduate scholarship and Iain Sutherland was awarded the Honours scholarship.

Eamon Cleary Scholarship winners 2016

Left to right: Professor Peter Kuch (Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies), James McCulloch (undergraduate scholarship winner), Iain Sutherland (Honours scholarship winner), Jude McCracken (Donor and Funding Manager, Alumni and Friends).


Reunion - 2014

The Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies enjoyed a reunion of staff, associates, and postgraduate students past and present:

Irish Studies Reunion

Left to right back row: Prof Liam McIlvanney (Scottish Studies); Dr Will Martin, (Post Doctoral Fellow); Kerri Haggart (PhD candidate); Jared Lesser (PhD candidate); Dr Pete Dulgar

Left to right middle row: Vincent O'Sullivan (CISS Associates); Ruth Macklin, (MA candidate); Dr Lisa McGonigle; Ailbhe McDaid (PhD candidate); Alison Finegan (IEM, Otago); Prof Peter Kuch (Irish Studies)

Left to right front row: Sharon Matthews (PhD candidate); Dr Rory Sweetman (CISS Associates) August 2014






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