James Flannery delivers the inaugural Yeats Lecture on “Memories and Prophecies: The ‘Total Theatre’ of W.B. Yeats"


Location: Room 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls

James Flannery Sccc Picture

Join us for the inaugural lecture in the Institute's new "Yeats Initiative."

Dr. James Flannery is the Winship Professor Emeritus of the Arts and Humanities at Emory University. He is also a producer, stage director, singer, scholar and critic specializing in the dramatic work of W.B. Yeats. In 1985 he founded the W.B. Yeats Foundation in order to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Yeats’s extraordinary accomplishment as a poet and dramatist, thinker, and cultural activist.

In 2020, Dr. Flannery was the recipient of a prestigious Presidential Distinguished Service Award from the Irish Government as a recognition of his lifetime of achievement as well as his work promoting a deeper knowledge of Yeats and Irish culture in general in both the United States and Ireland. He is the author of a definitive study of Yeats’s aesthetic of the theater as well as his practical efforts in founding the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland. For a number of years Dr. Flannery produced a Yeats International Theatre Festival at the Abbey Theatre that drew the acclaim of some of Ireland’s leading critics. He is also the Executive Director of a Southern Celtic Christmas Concert featuring the talents of some of the most renowned traditional musicians on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the Nobel Award-winning poet Seamus Heaney. This year will make the tenth in a row that the SCCC has been broadcast nationally on PBS, reaching every major market in the country. As a singer and scholar, he is considered the foremost interpreter of the famed Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore.

In his inaugural Yeats Lecture, Dr. Flannery will discuss how Yeats sought to foster modes of expression that would inspire people to live “creative and abundant lives.” For that to occur, the poet believed that the arts and humanities must function in concert with one another and not as rivals, as occurs too often in both academic and artistic institutions.


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is widely considered to be one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. In 1923, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Yeats visited Notre Dame twice—in 1904 and 1933.

[The image to the left is Yeats with then-President Rev. Charles L. O'Donnell, CSC.]