Since 1999, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies has sponsored a summer graduate seminar, the IRISH Seminar, that brings together scholars, graduate students, and faculty in Irish Studies. An intense intellectual exchange and experience, the IRISH Seminar has been a formative experience for scores of Notre Dame graduate students and their peers from universities around the world.
As the Institute and its scholars continue to examine and probe the “worlding of Irish Studies,” this year, the IRISH Seminar joined with the University’s annual Rome Seminar to hold “Ireland & Italy” at the Rome Global Gateway. From June 16 to 30, the Seminar’s faculty, invited scholars, and 21 students explored the cultural and historical links between Ireland and Italy.
Seminar Director Barry McCrea receiving words of thanks
It was a powerful experience. Even the Seminar’s executive director Barry McCrea, Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of English, Irish Language and Literature, and Romance Languages and Literatures, remarked: “The Ireland & Italy Seminar reversed many of my assumptions about the relationship between Ireland and Italy, and even about how culture travels.”
Among the subjects the IRISH Seminar covered were the exiled Irish nobility in 17th-century Rome, the relationship between the Irish church and the Vatican, the translation of modern Irish literature into Italian, a comparison of Irish and Italian immigration patterns, and Irish writers in Italy. Lectures and seminars were complemented by a number of field trips—including a walking tour of the Rome of the early modern Irish and a visit to the Irish seminary of Saint Isidore’s with Father Mícheál Mac Craith; an examination of Irish-related material in the archives of Propaganda Fide and the Irish College led by Dr. Matteo Binasco; and a tour of the Irish basilica of San Clemente led by Professor Ludovico Geymonat.
Additionally, the Seminar hosted an exhibition by Dr. Antonio Bibbò on the reception of Irish literature in Italy, and, in co-operation with the Irish Embassy, launched part of a new translation of Finnegans Wake by Enrico Terrinoni, including a performance of songs (in English, Irish, and Italian) in Joyce’s novel sung by the Irish baritone, Simon Morgan.
The 21 graduate students who attended the seminar came from such institutions as Notre Dame, Drew University, Yale University, and Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Julian Dean, who entered Notre Dame’s English graduate program just this fall, reflected on his experience:
“The IRISH Seminar was an amazing introduction to graduate studies and the faculty and students at Notre Dame,” Julian says. “Attending this summer was an incredible academic experience that opened my eyes to the wide range of interests and methodologies that are grounded in or relevant to Irish Studies. It also made me feel part of the Notre Dame community even before setting foot in South Bend.”
It is just such experiences that place the Keough-Naughton Institute—and its IRISH Seminar—at the core of the movement in modern scholarship to discover the variety of lenses that can be applied to the study of Ireland, its people, and culture.
For an inside view of the "Ireland & Italy" Seminar, see the Seminar's Facebook page.