The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies Announces the 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar

Author: Margaret Lloyd

2013-2014 Keough National Endowment for the Humanities fellow James “Wes’ Hamrick will present “Revising the Public Sphere in the Four Nations” at 4 pm Friday, April 25th in 424 Flanner Hall.  His presentation marks the culmination of his fellowship year as an NEH scholar within the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies. 

Hamrick will be joined by distinguished professors Murray Pittock, University of Glasgow; Katie Trumpener, Yale University; Niall Ó Ciosáin, NUI Galway; and Christopher Fox, University of Notre Dame, who will offer their thoughts on his work and its subject, the concept of the eighteenth-century public sphere and the role of minority languages.

“I am excited to receive feedback from the review committee,” says Hamrick, “as their work has been instrumental to my research and writing.”  Hamrick further credits former Irish Literature and Language Chair Breandán Ó Buachalla and current Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies Declan Kiberd for their guidance and influence.

The concept of the eighteenth-century public sphere, as proposed by cultural theorist Jürgen Habermas, is the place where civil society came together to discuss cultural, political or linguistic ideas.  Often represented as the domain of English speaking nationalists, Hamrick argues that informed citizens who spoke and write in Irish and other minority languages took part in the public sphere just as those in London.

“My work looks at the interaction between manuscript and print culture in England, Scotland and Ireland during the eighteenth century and argues that the so-called ‘public sphere’ during this period, while dominated by English, is in fact multi-lingual, with significant roles played by writing in Irish and Scots Gaelic as well as Scots English,” Hamrick explains.

The fellowship enabled Hamrick to prepare his dissertation for a book length publication. New insights, including the connection with recent work on the enlightenment concerning the circulation of ideas, were added.

Hamrick also generated two forthcoming articles reviewing the controversy over participants in the public sphere, one for the New Hibernian Review, and another written in Irish for Irish Studies journal Éigse.

The NEH Keough Fellowship is highly selective and enables an outstanding scholar to continue his or her research while in residence in the Keough-Naughton Institute during the academic year.  Former scholars have published books and articles on subjects in Irish Studies.

Learn more:

► related article about Wes Hamrick

► related article about former Keough-NEH fellows

► Keough-NEH Fellowship

Irish Studies at Notre Dame