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Inspiring Generations


Cherishing the Humanities: Trinity's Arts and Humanities Inspiring Generations

Trinity's Arts and Humanities are delighted to celebrate the launch of Trinity's Inspiring Generations campaign with a visual research showcase highlighting some of the diverse areas of research ongoing in Trinity College Dublin.



Trinity's Arts and Humanities are the only faculty area ranked in the top 50 of the QS World University Rankings 2019, and are top overall in Ireland. Many of the disciplines including the Performing Arts, Classics and Ancient History and English and Literature are among the most highly ranked.

Representing over 20 disciplines, 284 full-time academic and research staff, and 357 PhD students, the Trinity Long Room Hub is dedicated to supporting and promoting the research excellence of this community.

The Arts and Humanities have played a vital role through the centuries in challenging our understanding of what it means to be human. That role has never been more important in civil society than today, with pressing issues around technology, climate change, migration and the rise of nationalism. Researchers in the Arts and Humanities are key to unlocking many of the human challenges behind these problems.

The Trinity Long Room Hub hosts 50 of Trinity's most accomplished early career researchers and postdoctoral fellows each year. The posters on display in the Public Theatre and in the Trinity Long Room Hub, along with the detailed summaries below, are key examples of Arts and Humanities at Trinity inspiring generations.

To support the Trinity Long Room Hub as part of Trinity's Inspiring Generations Campaign, click here for further information on how to get involved.

Trinity's Arts and Humanities Inspiring Generations

Research Themes

Creative Arts Practice Research Theme | Dr Nicholas Johnson, johnson@tcd.ie
Creative Arts Practices are integrated into a range of research activities and themes across all disciplines in Trinity: Humanities, Engineering, Science and Medicine. Practice-led research and Research-led practice are becoming more prevalent in both the humagnities and the sciences.
The Creative Arts Practice research theme seeks to transform how research is conducted at Trinity College, to challenge researchers to think creatively using creative arts methodologies, and to inspire new approaches to tackling societal challenges.


Identities in Transformation Research Theme | Dr Daniel Faas, faasd@tcd.ie
Identities, both on the level of the individual and the collective, are formed and develop in complex processes that negotiate attitudes, values and behaviours and shape our social and cultural practices.
This research field undertakes a multi-facetted investigation of how the negotiation of identity is linked to processes of transformation on the level of history and culture; an investigation which allows deeper insight into the dynamics between social and political change, shifts in cultural memory, cultural and artistic practices and human agency.


Making Ireland Research Theme | Dr Mark Hennessy, mark.hennessey@tcd.ie
To explore, to conquer, to resist.
    To nurture, to build, to create.
        To reflect, to imagine, to perform.
Multiple Irelands have been fashioned through the ages. The Making Ireland theme explores this profoundly complex inheritance in its local and global manifestations, bringing Trinity’s expertise on all things Irish to scholars across the world and to Ireland’s citizens.


Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Research Theme| Prof Anna Chahoud, chahouda@tcd.ie and Dr Joseph Clarke, clarkej1@tcd.ie
How is experience, memory, knowledge communicated through written records? How does format affect content? What do familiar words such as ‘writing’, ‘reading’, ‘publishing’, ‘library’ mean in the digital age? Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures researches address these questions in the home of a world-class library. Studying the cultures of reading and writing, Trinity research interrogates books as texts, as objects, as heritage and as consumables; examines practices of authoring, interpreting, publishing, collecting, buying and selling books; explores the relationship between the physical and the virtual in the twenty first century; develops and shares expertise in textual research methods, in conservation and scientific analysis, in approaches to book history, to media studies, and to digital humanities.

 

Research Centres


Trinity Centre for Asian Studies | tcas@tcd.ie
The Trinity Centre for Asian Studies acts as a focal point for Asian Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and brings together teaching and research in Chinese, Korean and Japanese Studies as well as other regionally-based scholarship and pan-Asian research. Its activities focus on contemporary society and culture, language learning, diaspora studies, and comparative studies including Asian-European studies. The centre’s aim is to promote Asian Studies nationally and internationally, and in so doing, to be the leading knowledge centre in Ireland for policy-makers, business leaders and scholars in the field. The centre organises regular seminars, public lectures and events.


Trinity Centre for Digital Humanities | cobaine@tcd.ie

The Digital Humanities at Trinity College, Dublin is an essential component of the College’s knowledge infrastructure. It provides a key support mechanism for nurturing on-going and increased research cross-fertilisation. Digital Humanities facilitates multidisciplinary research questions, promoting high-impact cross-disciplinary reciprocal engagements, and acting as an integrator across research themes and disciplines.
World-class Computer Science needs pathways to new collaborations across content areas and epistemological frameworks. World-class Humanities research needs access to the cutting-edge methodologies the Digital Humanities theme and Centre support and develop. In addition to this methodological support, Digital Humanities also fosters a close working relationship with the Library through the shared interest in access to and interrogation of sources. This set of convergent concerns offers a natural basis upon which to bring together Computer Science and Humanities research. These crossings are not easy, but the Centre for Digital Humanities has proven its efficacy as a facilitator and mediator for delivering quality interactions across disciplines.


Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation | littrans@tcd.ie
The Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation brings together the worlds of publishing, marketing, research and the training of literary translations in a mutually enriching cluster. It builds a network of international partners and is a bub for international cultural exchange. It builds ties between its partner organisations and cultural institutions in Dublin and Ireland. The centre also organises public events which promote literary translation: book launches, book clubs, literary readings, meetings with writers and translators.


Trinity Centre for New Irish Studies | Dr Mark Hennessy, mark.hennessey@tcd.ie
The Centre for New Irish Studies (CNIS) emerges from Trinity’s strengths in the multidisciplinary area of Irish Studies, particularly that undertaken by members of the Making Ireland research theme. The aim of the Centre is to develop, promote and support research in New Irish Studies through partnership and engagement. It works extremely closely with the A-rated research theme Making Ireland, four Arts and Humanities-led research themes, and the Trinity Long Room Hub, which generously hosts the Centre. This collaborative spirit allows the Centre to contribute to achieving the College’s research strategies.

 

Externally-Funded Research Projects


CHCI-Mellon Crises of Democracy Global Humanities Institute | Dr Angela Butler, abbutler@tcd.ie
What factors make populist and authoritarian approaches to government more attractive than democracy? Countries that presently find their political systems in crisis can in most cases find causes by looking back to specific times, events and experiences in the collective lives of the culture. By turning to the past, they can determine conditions and patterns of responses and influences that have contributed to current crises. One construct that has proven particularly useful in tracing these crises to their roots has been that of cultural trauma which focuses on shocks to the collective tissue of a society. 
The Global Humanities Institute is a partnership formed by five universities: Trinity College Dublin, University of São Paulo, Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Zagreb, and Columbia University, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities. The primary focus of the Institute is to explore crises of democracy through the lens of cultural trauma. As part of this Global Humanities Institute, we have organised a 9-day intensive summer school in Dubrovnik for international early career scholars from a wide range of disciplines. During these 9 days, we will consider the role of institutions, inequality, exclusion, and the use of violence in both oppression and resistance.
The project is one of two selected for US Mellon Foundation funding from seventeen submissions to the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes , a global network joining over 200 humanities centres, research libraries and related organisations


SHAPE-ID: Shaping Interdisciplinary Practices in Europe | Dr Doireann Wallace, info@shapeid.eu
Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) draws on expertise from different academic disciplines to tackle some of the “Grand Challenges” – such as climate change and healthy ageing – facing society today. Transdisciplinary Research (TDR) extends IDR by involving potential research users, such as industry, civil society and citizens, in the research process. However, institutional structures and funding programmes do not always support IDR and TDR. Integrating approaches from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) with the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and Medicine has proved particularly challenging. Launched in February 2019, SHAPE-ID is a 30-month project funded by the European Union to address the challenge of improving inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation between AHSS disciplines and other sciences. In consultation with stakeholders and experts, SHAPE-ID aims to identify the factors that can hinder or contribute to the success of IDR and TDR projects, and to deliver a practical toolkit and guidelines to help funders, policy makers, universities, researchers and research users achieve and better support high quality impactful IDR and TDR involving all disciplines. SHAPE-ID will gather evidence through surveys, literature reviews and participatory Learning Case Workshops organised across Europe; develop and validate a knowledge framework for AHSS integration based on the results of these activities; and develop and disseminate the final toolkit and policy briefs to guide stakeholders towards successful pathways to AHSS integration.
SHAPE-ID is coordinated by the Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), collaborating with ISINNOVA (Italy), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the University of Edinburgh (UK), the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland) and consultant Dr Jack Spaapen (the Netherlands). More information is available at www.shapeid.eu.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 822705

 

PhD, Staff and Fellow Research Projects

CHINACHILD Research Project | Dr Isabella Jackson, jacksoni@tcd.ie
Girls were routinely sold as slaves in China for centuries until the practice declined in the mid-twentieth century. Children could be sold because they were small and unable to defend themselves, because they were considered the property of their parents, and because personhood and the rights associated with it was not deemed to apply to children. Girls were far more likely to be sold due to preference for boys to continue the family line. Many were sold by poor families to wealthier families to use for unpaid domestic labour: with no freedom to leave, they were slave-girls.
Opposition to the practice grew in the 1920s and 1930s. Initially reformers, Chinese and foreign, argued that girls needed protection in the same way that women should be protected. Yet the case was increasingly made that girls were entitled to an innocent childhood, free of labour and exploitation. Over four years, Dr Jackson, as Principal Investigator, and her team of CHINACHILD researchers will examine whether the shift in discussions about child slavery marked a change in the conception of childhood in China from a category applied to boys and elites to a universal stage of development encompassing girls and the poor.
Dr Isabella Jackson has been awarded a prestigious Irish Research Council Laureate Award for this project.


Cosmos and Crisis: Re-evaluating Conceptions of Time and Space in Archaic and Classical Greece | Susannah Ashton, ashtons@tcd.ie
Time remains among the most elusive and fiercely contested aspects of human experience. While ardent debates in modern physics continue to prompt radical transformations in Western understandings of time, anthropology has demonstrated that human perceptions of time are culturally ordered through language and discourse. Despite seeming so intrinsic, conceptions of time fluctuate according to cultural context, and current trends in popular thought. By reframing the questions raised by these conceptual conflicts, this research explores the discursive ordering of time as it occurs in a range of competing writers between the eighth and fifth centuries BC in ancient Greece.
Throughout this period, conceptions of time are contested and contestable. The works of three key mythological and philosophical thinkers – Hesiod (c.700 BC), Pherecydes (c.550 BC), and Empedocles (c.492 BC) – demonstrate an explicit, and ongoing, engagement with radically disparate ideas about time. These thinkers reveal a variety of fundamental questions being asked of time, probing its ontology, processes and agency. This research investigates why the notion of time underwent such radical developments in ancient Greece, and what these competing ideas may tell us about this most formulative period of intellectual history.
Susannah Ashton is a PhD candidate in the School of History and Humanities supervised by Dr Ashley Clements and funded by the Ferrar Memorial Studentship in Ancient Philology.


Increasing Academic Success of New Speakers of English through English for Academic Purposes Curriculum Revitalization | Jessica Garska, garskaj@tcd.ie
Increased student mobility has led to an increase in English as an Additional Language (EAL) students studying at English-medium universities. The predictor of EAL students’ academic success primarily relies on standardized test scores, however, the validity of these tests is currently debated. There is also a startling lack of evidence on the academic outcomes of EAL students studying in Ireland and under-engagement with the development of strategies to support their academic growth. This research aims to redress this imbalance through the creation of an Irish-specific pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme. It uses interviews and questionnaires to explore student and faculty perceptions of the needs, expectations and challenges that EAL students face in Irish Higher EducationIt conducts a scoping review of in-use and empirically tested pre-sessional EAP curricula and assessment. Based on these findings, an EAP curriculum and assessment will be constructed as an alternative preparation tool and predictor of success. In doing so, this research seeks to improve both the academic outcomes and experiences of EAL students in the Irish Higher Education system.
Jessica Garska is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Language and Communication Studies supervised by Dr Sarah O’Brien and funded by a Trinity Research Studentship.


Irish Women in Business, 1850-1922: Navigating the Credit Economy | Antonia Hart, harta@tcd.ie
This research examines how Irishwomen managed businesses in a cycle of credit and debt. Giving credit was something that retailers and service providers more or less had to do, as credit was an everyday payment mechanism in the late nineteenth century.
Cash flow was a constant problem, and at a time when banking wasn’t a straightforward option if you were a woman, or poor, or otherwise marginalised, businesswomen often borrowed cash from suppliers and other contacts, like landlords. They also borrowed from flusher family members.
Women were active on both sides of the pawnbroker’s counter, borrowing and lending money. With no credit check, and almost no paperwork, you could be in and out in a matter of minutes with cash in your purse. Only now, of course, you had also shouldered a new burden – managing regular interest payments.
Businesswomen pulled off the kind of risky balancing act so familiar to us today. They bought goods from suppliers on credit while also extending credit to customers, and hoped to bridge the gap as best they could. Sometimes the risk paid off, and sometimes it landed them in the local bankruptcy courts. But thousands of women successfully navigated the credit economy and ran businesses on all scales, from Antrim’s Ellen Jane Corrigan who ran the famous distillery at Bushmills to Westport’s Mary Casey, who let out rooms in her house to lodgers.
Antonia Hart is a PhD candidate in the Department of History supervised by Dr Ciaran O’Neill and Dr Richard McMahon funded by the Irish Research Council.


'Secret and distant freaks': Using and Abusing the Irish Other, c1169–c1269 | Daryl Hendley Rooney, hendleyd@tcd.ie
The 1169 Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland is a foundational event in the shared history of Ireland and its closest neighbour, Britain. For centuries scholars seeking to understand this watershed moment have relied upon the views expressed by Cambro-Norman writer and ecclesiastic, Gerald de Barri, or Gerald of Wales (1146–1223), in Topograhia Hiberniae and Expugnatio Hibernica. Histories of Anglo-Norman views on Ireland and the Irish likewise draw heavily on these texts. Gerald of Wales’s often-contemptuous views have therefore largely been accepted as representative of his contemporaries. While the accounts of William of Newburgh and Gervase of Cantebury are indeed equally disparaging, ideas expressed by Ralph de Diceto and William of Canterbury were in fact far more moderate. Attitudes were seemingly not as homogenous as previously thought. Exploring the words of other twelfth- and thirteenth-century works written in Angevin England, this research presents a more nuanced and complex picture of how writers, and perhaps even their readers, perceived Ireland and its people in the aftermath of conquest.
Select references:
R. R. Davies, Domination and Conquest: The Experience of Ireland, Scotland and Wales 1100–1300 (Cambridge, 1990)
Robin Frame, Colonial Ireland, 1169–1369 (2nd ed., Dublin, 2012)
Michael Staunton, The Historians of Angevin England (Oxford, 2017).
Daryl Hendley Rooney is a PhD candidate in the Department of History supervised by Prof Seán Duffy.


Living Latin | Dr Charlie Kerrigan, ckerriga@tcd.ie
Latin has always been a language of power, from Julius Caesar’s ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ to the American empire. But Latin is also a language in which ordinary people expressed themselves for hundreds of years. This project aims to criticize the former and to celebrate the latter, from the high poetry of Virgil to the streets of Pompeii. The project has three pillars: pedagogy, public engagment, and research. As a teacher, I’m developing an elementary Latin curriculum that combines the best of a centuries-old philological tradition with postcolonial methods and the latest pedagogical research. As a blogger, I’m trying to bring Latin out of its traditional homes in order to reach and engage a broader online audience in Ireland and around the world, in the belief that the ancient Roman world and its culture are for everyone. And as a researcher, I’m investigating the colonial histories of texts like Virgil’s Georgics, bringing to light new evidence for the implication of literature with empire, and assessing the legacies of these pasts on the present.
Selected references:
J.N. Adams, An Anthology of Informal Latin (Cambridge, 2016)
B. Hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (London, 1994)
Dr Charlie Kerrigan is a Research Fellow in the Department of Classics.

Frank O’Connor and Irish Letter-Writing | Dr Hillary Lennon, hlennon@tcd.ie
A master of the short story, Frank O’Connor (1903-1966) was one of the leading literary and cultural figures in post-independence Ireland. Directly involved in the national debates of the period, at every level his letters formed part of the sustained social, intellectual, professional, and political formation of the new State. Regular exchanges of letters in the literary and artistic circles of Dublin and Cork (in which O’Connor was most immersed), alongside a lively, daily ‘Letters to the Editor’ nationwide discussion in the newspapers and periodicals of the time, ensured Ireland as a new nation strongly developed within a twentieth-century epistolary system. This project compiles, selects, and critically analyses O’Connor’s extensive contribution to the genre, while the research also critically examines the broader twentieth-century Irish historical epistolary context. The first stage of this project is creating a forthcoming critical edition of Frank O’Connor’s letters, while the second stage is producing a research monograph on the titled project, Frank O’Connor and Irish Epistolary Culture.
Correspondence was at the core of Irish communication networks, at local, national and international levels, while letters formed part of the artistic creations of the time too. Alongside the aforementioned hard-copy deliverables, this research also works, therefore, to build a community within global Irish Studies of scholars working in this new research field of Irish Epistolary Writings.
Dr Hilary Lennon is the Frank O'Connor Research Fellow in the School of English.


Towards a Critical Adult Education in Prison | Angeliki Lima, anlima@tcd.ie
This project explores the lived experience of education in prison and connects that experience to the principles of adult education and existing official educational policies. Listening to the prisoners’ narratives, it examines the ways in which education can be a transformative and beneficial experience during incarceration. The project takes a comparative case study approach, inviting former prisoners in Ireland and in Greece to participate in life story interviews. It aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What are the motivations and aspirations behind the decision to re-engage in an educational process in prison?
  • How do those engaging while incarcerated experience the educational system and what do they have to say about their outcomes?
  • What are the participants’ views on the results of the process? Does it alter their understanding of self on a personal or social level? 
  • What are the enduring effects of the lived experience of education while incarcerated?

Angeliki Lima is a PhD candidate in the School of Education supervised by Dr Aidan Seery and funded by a Trinity Research Studentship.


The Orphic Argonautica |Alexandra Madeła, madelaa@tcd.ie
The so-called Orphic Argonautica is a Greek epic poem dating from late antiquity, circa second - sixth century AD. It retells the story of the Argonauts, a group of mythical Greek heroes, who, under the command of Jason, set out to gain the Golden Fleece from King Aietes in far-off Colchis (modern-day Georgia).
The authoritative version of the myth is considered to be the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes. Written around the third century, Apollonius tells the story from a third-person perspective in great detail. The Orphic Argonautica is instead told by a character in the story, Orpheus, to whom the authorship of the work is ascribed.
In antiquity, Orpheus was believed to be a historical figure from the remote past. This creates complications. While the writer of the mysterious poem was drawing heavily upon, and sometimes almost copying verbatim, Apollonius’s Argonautica, its supposed authorship makes it both the predecessor and model of the earlier epic poem. Focussing particularly on the language used, this project explores this tension.
Alexandra Madeła is a PhD candidate in the Department of Classics supervised by Dr Martine Cuypers funded by the Irish Research Council.


Identities in Progress: Coming of Age in Contemporary Italian Literature | Martina Mendola, mendolam@tcd.ie
Exploring the challenges the literary characters face as they construct their identity in contemporary society, this project concentrates on the process of identity formation in the contemporary Italian coming-of-age-story. It focuses on six Italian novels: Melliti M. (1995), I bambini delle rose, Vinci S. (1997), Dei bambini non si sa niente;Ammaniti N. (2001), Io non ho paura; De Silva, D, (2001), Certi bambini, Santacroce I. (2006) Zoo andScarpa T. (2008) Stabat Mater. Undertaking textual analysis, the dialectic between sameness and selfhood in the process of identity formation is examined. In doing so, the research establishes not only what it meant to grow up in the twentieth century but also sheds light on this contemporary experience.  The study of the novels is approached from an interdisciplinary critical perspective which intertwines literary analysis and theories of identity and it aims to show how literature can evoke identity as a multiple and fluctuating summa of qualities, memories, experiences and demands at the crossroad between permanence and change.
Martina Mendola is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian supervised by Dr Giuliana Adamo and Dr Clodagh Brook.


Cynicism in French Contemporary Literature | Louise Kari Méreau, karimerl@tcd.ie

There are two types of cynicism:

  • The ancient altruistic philosophy: led by Diogenes, ‘the Dog’, this group aimed to improve society and help people to achieve happiness through the pursuit of virtue. They criticised the social body; its conventions, religion, manners, and rules.
  • The modern attitude: this group is characterised by a general lack of faith or hope in people. Motivated by ambition, desire, gratification, and materialism, the modern cynic is typically an egocentric character.

In literature, the line between these two forms of cynicism is blurred. This research explores that ambiguity through the works of Frederic Beigbeder and Virginie Despentes.
Like the use of heroin in Trainspotting, cynicism is an answer to a feeling of being an outsider, of not fitting in, of discomfort towards society. In the movie, Mark and his friends choose heroin. In the books at the centre of this study, the characters appear to choose cynicism. All choose provocation. All choose rejection.
As illustrated in this poster, there are two ways to reject something:

  • Productively: criticising and proposing an alternative, which can be associated with the concept of engagement.
  • Non-productively: criticising without proposing an alternative, a sort of nihilism.

Louise Kari Mereau is a PhD candidate in the Department of French supervised by Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey.


Evaluating an Earth Science Engagement Initiative to Assess Irish Students’ Readiness for Ireland’s Future Geoscience Challenges | Emer Emily Neenan, neenane@tcd.ie
The world is facing a future of rising temperature, rising sea levels, and rising incidences of natural disasters. Decisions being made now – about environmental policy, education policy, scientific policy – will determine the kind of world today's schoolchildren inherit. Meanwhile, protesting against the slow response to the threat of climate change, students themselves are hitting the streets and the headlines.
This project looks at how current Irish students in junior secondary school learn, think, and feel about Earth Science and about climate change. The main survey used in this project was co-designed by current Irish school students, to give students a voice in research that is about them. It aims to establish what students are learning and where their interests lie. This will help Irish policymakers and schools to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need as they grow into the next generation of Irish voters and decision-makers.
Project background: http://www.tara.tcd.ie/handle/2262/76547
Artwork by author: Ellis-Neenan Art (Facebook) ellis_neenan_art (Instagram)
Emer Emily Neenan is a PhD candidate in the School of Education supervised by Dr Joseph Roche and funded by the Irish Research Council.


A Question of Being: The Interplay of Motivation, Self, Language in Bi- and Multilingual Meaning-Making Processes | Carlos Rafael Oliveras, oliverac@tcd.ie          
Recent work in SLA motivational studies has put greater emphasis on the context of the individual. Understanding motivation as a relational process that emerges in the interaction between the individual and the place and time in which she finds herself, Ushioda (2009, 2015) advocates for a person-in-context view of motivation. Similarly, there are emerging frameworks which apply Foucaldian and Bakhtinian concepts of dialogism to posit language learning motivation as a self-forming process (Clarke & Hennig, 2013; Harvey, 2017).
Others call for greater attention to be paid to the affective or emotional aspect of motivation (e.g. Dewaele, 2010; Pavlenko, 2005). Kramsch (2009) frames motivation as desire, a concept that subsumes motivation as understood in SLA research, and argues for the aesthetic elements of languages, such as the sound of the words, to be considered when trying to understand motivation.
This increased attention to the individual has also led to the adaptation of phenomenological analysis as a legitimate method of collecting and interpreting subjective data in order to further understand motivation (Henry, 2015). Undertaking a phenomenological analysis of multilingual subjects, the project seeks to understand the experience and motivation of language learning.
Carlos Rafael Oliveras is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Language and Communication Studies supervised by


‘A Thousand, Thousand Slimy Things’: A Natural History of the Sea from the Bottom Up | Dr Christopher L. Pastore, pastorec@tcd.ie
Taking its title from lines in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), A Thousand, Thousand Slimy Things examines the natural history of the seas from prehistory to the age of plastic pollution. Guided by the conviction that human history is inextricably tied to the rhythms of nature, this book shows how people across the Atlantic world and over time made sense of a mysterious ocean. It turns out that slimy things – from sea serpents to micro-plastics – have long tended to lurk among the frontiers of natural knowledge, reflecting not only the anxieties of each age but also, in many cases, new possibilities. Accordingly, slime’s generative qualities nourished narratives of progress while the rhetoric of oceanic decay often flowed through stories of societal decline. Imagined as a window into the earth’s ancient past, the slimy sea seemed at once timeless but always changing, masculine but sometimes feminine, and at once a space of rot and regeneration. Connecting the local and the global, the ocean was a source of extraction but also a sink for disposal. Some were inspired to protect it, while others were willing to neglect it. Indeed, as this book argues, the mutable nature of the sea and its slimy creatures has shaped the ways humans have treated it and them.
Dr Christopher L. Pastore is an Assistant Professor of History at the University at Albany, State University of New York and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub (2018-19). His fellowship is in association with Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures theme.


The British Popular Press and Ireland, 1922-32 | Dr Elspeth Payne, payneea@tcd.ie
What should Britain’s relationship with Ireland look like? After the ending of the turbulent union in 1921, this was no longer clear. A treaty had been signed, but the precise details of the new relationship were yet to be determined. The Free State needed a constitution. The border partitioning the island needed to be reviewed.
As a dominion, the independent Free State was a part of the British imperial system. Opting out of the treaty, Northern Ireland remained within the union. Culturally, socially and economically the nations remained intimately intertwined. The sea separating the countries was still easily crossed. This was not a clean break.
Over the decade that followed, new challenges emerged. Rejecting the oath and withholding land annuities payments, for example, the entry of Fianna Fáil into constitutional politics threatened the re-established status quo.
Appearing daily across diverse content, the terms of interaction were navigated, negotiated and renegotiated on the pages of the British tabloids. Despite securing circulations in excess of one million, these popular publications have only belatedly been remembered by historians. This project rehabilitates them into their Anglo-Irish context. It challenges the idea that, after 1922, Britain was eager to forget about its Irish troubles. It recovers instead a story not of apathy, but of sustained interest. This is a tale not only of trade and treaties, but also of Hospital Sweepstakes’ draws, holidays and high society.
As Brexit reopens the question of what Britain’s relationship with Ireland should look like, this project concentrates on the answers provided after the settlement of 1921.

Dr Elspeth Payne recently completed a PhD in the Department of History supervised by Dr Anne Dolan and Prof Eunan O’Halpin and funded by the R. B. McDowell Fellowship and Irish Research Council.


The Small Gods of Online Identity | Freya Stokes, freya.stokes@mymail.unisa.edu.au
We need stories. Stories are the frameworks we use for understanding the world. Stories are also capable of shaping the world in return. A really ‘spreadable’ story with enough collective imaginations behind it could change the world. Arguably, many have already done so. 
Memes, mass-media, and popular culture are often the templates, tools, and raw materials that online communities construct their stories from. It can be tempting to dismiss online and popular culture as unimportant, or internet memes as ‘just jokes’. But enough collective imaginations pointed in the same direction can change things. For example, have you heard the gay Babadook or Pepe the Frog? In certain online spaces, these characters have their own specific lore. And for internet cultures, lore is king.
In Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, sufficient imaginative engagement could make space for a new ‘god’ (or re-mix an old one). Here in our world, ongoing creative engagement likewise allows something to become more than just an idea. It gives it, in a manner of speaking, life. Online, communities are essentially crafting their own folklore, and so we can find local ‘small gods’ filling a new kind of narrative niche.
Freya Stokes is a master’s student from the University of South Australia and the recipient of the Sir Terry Pratchett Memorial Scholarship.


A History of Attention in the Premodern Era | Dr Katherine Zieman, ziemank@tcd.ie
While both popular culture and academic studies have argued that difficulty in sustaining attention is a problem of modernity, this study examines discussions and practices concerned with mental discipline that extend back to the early middle ages, revealing a much longer history. Focusing on meditative traditions in western Christianity, it considers the topic of mind-wandering so often lamented by early medieval monks as well as the strategies devised to combat it. Its primary concern, however, is to examine how considerations of attention shift with the rise of devotional culture from the fourteenth century. Whereas monastic meditation had been undertaken by enclosed monks with training and education in the sacred texts that formed the basis of contemplation and prayer, private devotional prayer of the late medieval period was encouraged for all, regardless of knowledge. Treatises to aid the medieval devout in prayer were produced, along with an array of devotional aids, from books of hours to prayer beads, designed to enhance contemplative focus. Whereas attending to one’s prayers was an obligation for the monk, for the late medieval devout it was a freely chosen act of will. This research considers how the devout were encouraged to invest their attention and what kinds of return they expected to get on that investment.


Dr Katherine Zieman is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Fellow for 2018-19 in association with Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Research Theme.


The Shifting Boundaries of Academic Work in Ireland's Technological Higher Education | Tatyana Zubrzycki, zubrta01@tcd.ie


The formation of Regional Technical Colleges in Ireland in 1970s and evolution of the sector that followed are consistent with the development trajectory of vocational and higher technical education in many parts of the world. When viewed in the historical and socio-economic context, this expansion of education systems is primarily a response to new societal demands. More recently, the complex array of challenges associated with developing knowledge-based economy has necessitated the contribution from higher education institutions in expanding research capacity to produce regionally-relevant knowledge and skills. To varying degrees, higher education systems in different countries have also demonstrated a tendency towards policy convergence on supra-national and international levels. A number of institutions in higher technical education internationally have undergone mergers and/or have been re-designated as universities. With the passing of the Technological Universities Act 2018, the legislature is now in place to facilitate similar changes in Ireland.


This PhD study explores the status of the academic work (teaching, research and social engagement) in Ireland’s Institutes of Technology and TU Dublin, and how it may be changing in the context of proposals for Technological Universities. This is examined from the perspective of the academics who work in the sector and other stakeholders involved in the process of mergers/designation as a TU. The study aims to inform policy and practice and build a comparative base for future research, while also considering the international experience and its relevance for the Irish context.
Tatyana Zubrzycki is a PhD candidates in the School of Education supervised by Dr Andrew Loxley and Dr John funded by the TUI Ben Bishop Scholarship.

 

 

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