A student of poetry and native of France, Florence Impens participated in the 2013 Irish Seminar on Contemporary Irish Poetry in Paris. Impressed with this introduction to the Keough-Naughton Institute, Impens applied for and was delighted to receive one of two Keough-NEH fellowships awarded this year. She is making use of this time to develop a book length study of classical reception in contemporary Irish poetry while enjoying proximity to Notre Dame’s Special Collections.
Awarded her Ph.D. in English from Trinity College, Dublin in 2013, the book builds on her dissertation, “‘The Answering Voice’ : Classical Intertextuality in the Work of Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Derek Mahon, 1990-2010.” Impens intends to create “an overview of the recent and contemporary classical presence in Anglophone Irish poetry in the second half of the twentieth century.” Her work argues that the classics provided a common language between the North and Republic of Ireland during the peace process, becoming “the prime material with which poets could articulate the complexities of cultural identity and their relationship with the island where they were born.” This timely classical revival “released in Anglophone Irish writers a need to emphasize the transnational dimension of their work, leading them at the turn of the new millennium to develop connections with foreign literatures.”
Impens’ work will be reviewed by leading scholars Vona Groarke, University of Manchester and James I. Porter, University of California, Irvine in a year-end National Endowment for the Humanities seminar. Isabelle Torrance, Associate Professor of Classics and Institute fellow, will moderate the event.
In addition to working on her manuscript, Impens has prepared reviews that were published in several Irish literary publications including the Irish Review, the Dublin Review of Books and Poetry Ireland. She will give a lecture titled “Echo’s Grove: Classical Voices in Derek Mahon’s Work” at Catholic University and in the upcoming American Conference for Irish Studies March conference.