Meet the new CACSSS postdoctoral research fellows
Dr Brandon Chao-Chi Yen School of English
Dr Anne-Julie Lafaye School of History
Dr Declan TaggartSchool of English
Dr Jessica CawleySchool of Music and Theatre
Dr Kenneth KeatingSchool of English
Dr Laura LovejoySchool of English
Dr Lijuan QianSchool of Music and Theatre
Dr Martin WallSchool of History
Dr Martina PipernoSchool of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Dr Tatiana VagramenkoSchool of Asian Studies
Dr Tracy CollinsSchool of Human Environment
Brandon Chao-Chi Yen
Brandon Chao-Chi Yen holds a PhD from Cambridge. He is the author of ‘The Excursion’ and Wordsworth’s Iconography (Liverpool University Press, forthcoming). With Peter Dale, he has recently co-authored a richly illustrated book for general readers, The Spirit of Paradise: The Gardens of William Wordsworth and the Poetry of his Flowers, to be published by ACC Art Books (Antique Collectors’ Club) in 2018. Prior to coming to UCC, he was an Early Career Fellow at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, where he curated an exhibition on ‘Wordsworth’s Flowers’ in March 2017. He is also a literary translator and botanical illustrator.
Outline of Project
This proposal is for a book that considers Ireland’s place in the life and works of William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Entitled Wordsworth’s Ireland, it covers the entirety of Wordsworth’s lifetime; during which he began his important friendship with the Anglo-Irish scientist William Rowan Hamilton in 1827, wrote against Catholic Emancipation and visited Ireland in 1829, expressed his views of Irish landscapes, the Poor Laws in Ireland, and the Church of Ireland continually after his Irish journey, and became an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1845.
I explore how Wordsworth can help us think about Ireland from the perspective of British perceptions of ‘community’, in the sense that Benedict Anderson has established of ‘imagined communities’. At the centre of these perceptions was a yearning for intranational, national, and imperial ‘belonging’ that was expressed in a variety of cultural forms. Recent scholars such as John Bew and K. Theodore Hoppen have studied the problematic role of Ireland in Britain’s political consciousness after the Rebellions of 1798 and 1803, the Act of Union of 1800, and Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Some scholarship, including writing on Romanticism, has begun to engage the place of Ireland in the cultural imagination of British society. However, no major work has examined Ireland’s place in Wordsworth’s writings – or in late-Georgian British culture in general – in the light of ‘belonging’, a yearning that was crucial to Wordsworth, and that became increasingly complex owing to Britain’s colonial expansion and socio-political turbulence.
Providing a newly integrated understanding of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century culture as it moved between Britain and Ireland, Wordsworth’s Ireland offers the first comprehensive account of Ireland’s place in Wordsworth’s writings, of Wordsworth’s Irish connections, of his views of Irish affairs, and of his Irish journey.
Anne-Julie Lafaye is a medieval archaeologist interested in the buildings and landscape context of religious orders in medieval Europe, especially the mendicant orders in Ireland. After completing her undergraduate degree in History and Archaeology at the University of Rouen and the first year of a Master’s Degree in Medieval Archaeology with the Sorbonne University, she enrolled on the MLitt and then a PhD programme of UCD’s School of Archaeology under the supervision of Prof. Tadhg O’Keeffe and Dr Edel Bhreathnach. Before beginning her IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in UCC she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Trinity College Dublin and the Discovery Programme. She is one of the collaborators on the Monastic Ireland project.
Outline of Project
At the core of the proposed research lies the study of the physical remains of Augustinian friaries in Ireland. The Augustinian friars belonged to the so-called mendicant orders that appeared in the first decades of the thirteenth century in France and Italy. They were friars, not monks, and did not live cloistered lives of prayer and contemplation, but were itinerant preachers who tended to the spiritual needs of the laity. They preached in and outside their churches, leading a life of poverty and begging for their sustenance. For these reasons, they chose to live mainly in towns, where larger populations could support their voluntary poverty through donations, but also where they could cater for the spiritual needs of more intellectually demanding urban populations.
Mendicant orders began to arrive in Ireland from 1224 onwards, where they found a largely rural society with a handful of cities and many modest boroughs, newly founded by the Anglo-Norman colonial lords. The friars first settled in larger and wealthier towns of the country, but their rapid success led to foundation of houses in more modest settlements, and even in completely rural landscapes. This phenomenon increased in the fifteenth century, and has often been explained by scholars as resulting from the Gaelic resurgence and the contraction of the English royal power.
In my research to date, I have studied Irish mendicant settlements through a multidisciplinary lens and within a broader European context, aiming to measure their physical, religious and socio-economic impact on the landscapes of medieval Ireland, demonstrating the crucial role of mendicant orders in shaping both its urban and rural landscapes. The proposed research has therefore a two-fold purpose. Firstly, the project will shift the focus to a seemingly marginal order that has been little studied in Ireland and elsewhere. Secondly, it will investigate the social and spiritual infrastructure in late medieval Ireland by concentrating on the Augustinian friars and building on my existing research. The proposed research will include the cataloguing of all twenty-two Irish Augustinian foundations, and an in-depth historical and architectural survey of twelve sites where remains survive, with the overall aim to determine the extent of the physical, religious and social impact of the Augustinian friars in medieval Ireland.
Declan Taggart comes to the School of English at UCC from a PhD at the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Scandinavian Studies, which followed a BA in English Literature from Durham University and an MA in Medieval Studies from the University of York. He is the author of How Thor Lost His Thunder (Routledge, forthcoming) and has undertaken a research stay at Stockholm University’s Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, sponsored by the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy for Swedish Folk Culture. His work examines cognitive variation in representations of Old Norse deities and their interactions with humanity.
Outline of Project
Philologists, archaeologists and historians have studied the pre-Christian religions of northern Europe for centuries, scrutinizing in impressive detail topics like myths’ origins and the forms of rituals. Yet, in all this time, no attention has been paid to the ways in which conceptualizations of gods changed according to their worshippers’ circumstances.
In Old Norse mythology, gods like Thor, Odin and Freyja are often remarkable, if sometimes amoral, people-like beings. But were these the characterizations used in prayer? During collective rituals? Underpinning moral strictures? From, for example, comparative studies and ethnographic accounts of Old Norse devotion, it seems not; rather these deities could just as validly have been conceived in some circumstances as divinity is in Abrahamic theology: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent sources of morality. My book is the first to investigate this form of diversity in Old Norse religion, with major consequences for pre-existing assumptions regarding the nature of divine encounters across northern literature and archaeology.
The book is entirely interdisciplinary: I elucidate textual and archaeological sources of pre-Christian religion with the aid of Cognitive Science of Religion, a field that studies religion through the theories and methods of disciplines like psychology, anthropology and neurobiology. Through this prism, I scrutinize moral aspects in representations of Old Norse supernatural agents, contradictions between different textual portrayals, and the effects of religious objects and places on conceptualization.
Cognitive Science of Religion offers a way of probing the minds of past worshippers, with values and perceptions very unlike our own, without resorting to ad hoc fallacies. Equally, as my doctoral research demonstrates, the diverse dataset of Old Norse religion can materially inform, challenge and modulate the arguments of cognitive scientists of religion. My results and the paradigm provided by my methodology will therefore have an impact in two fields: cognitive science and Old Norse studies.
Dr Jessica Cawley is an active performer, educator, and researcher in the area of Irish traditional music and education. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of New Hampshire (2006), and an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick (2008). Jessica’s PhD research at the University College Cork explored the “The Musical Enculturation of Irish Traditional Musicians.” In 2013, she established the non-profit organization, Creative Tradition, which currently leads community and education programmes and two Club Ceoils in Knocknaheeny and Blarney. Creative Tradition works in partnership with Music Generation and applies many concepts from Jessica’s research into school and community settings.
Outline of Project
Although several scholars have examined the teaching, learning, and transmission of Irish traditional music (ITM), their analysis typically focuses on the teacher’s viewpoint (Veblen 1996, 1991) or aspects of cultural history (McCarthy 1999; Hamilton 1996, 1978; O’Shea 2008, 2005). The literature reveals a startling gap – precious little has been written from the learners’ point of view. This proposed monograph – a revision and extension of my PhD thesis – is the first major study to focus solely on the process of becoming an Irish traditional musician. My research examines the way that musicians learn informally, non-formally, and formally in a variety of settings, including Irish traditional music sessions, clubs, festivals, summer schools, and in private settings alongside their peers, mentors, and family members. During the learning process, traditional musicians also use various forms of technology, including audio recordings, web-based platforms, and peer-to-peer technologies.
This focus on such diverse learning experiences provides unique insight into Irish traditional music culture. As Bruno Nettl argued, ‘one can hardly comprehend a musical system without knowing how it is taught, learned and transmitted in its own society’ (1992:389). In this way, this investigation of learning processes contributes a plethora of new cultural knowledge about ITM culture. For instance, traditional music sessions and festivals are explored as cultural events and important venues for learning.
This research highlights that traditional musicians engage in a multiplicity of learning experiences during their musical development, and this raises significant implications for the teaching of ITM. Most notably, institutions which promote and teach ITM should nurture and facilitate a variety of informal and formal activities for their learners. My research findings will enable scholars to recommend new pedagogies for ITM, and therefore, the monograph will potentially impact how ITM is transmitted in the musical community and promoted within national organizations.
Dr Kenneth Keathing
Dr Kenneth Keating joins the School of English as an IRC Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in October 2017, having studied at University College Dublin where he was awarded a PhD in 2014. He is the author of Contemporary Irish Poetry and the Canon: Critical Limitations and Textual Liberations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and has published widely on modern and contemporary poetry, including peer-reviewed essays in Irish University Review, Irish Studies Review, New Hibernia Review, and Éire-Ireland. He is the editor of Smithereens Press.
Outline of Project - Transnationalism, Poetic Form, and the Canon of Contemporary Irish Poetry
This project intends to offer a radical reconceptualization of contemporary Irish poetry to fundamentally challenge conventional understandings of nation-centred literary inheritance and canon-formation. The production of a transnational study of Irish poetry aims to counter the dominant narrative produced by essentialist studies which consider Irish poets in isolation from their global contemporaries and predecessors. Identifying the most transnational aspect of poetry in its most fundamental characteristic, that is in the form used to present the text on the page or screen, this project outlines the manner in which the poets’ utilisation of these poetic forms, which exist in various languages and have travelled and evolved across the globe over the past centuries, explicitly underlines their transnationalism and poses a direct challenge to the hegemonic critical understanding of Irish poetry restricted to arbitrary political, geographical, or cultural lines.
By examining the work of Irish poets resident in Ireland and those who have migrated abroad, predominantly across Europe and North America, this project develops the first sustained account of poetic form as a transnational act. Through interrogating the poets’ prominent engagement with eight identifiable poetic forms, ranging from the traditional sonnet to avant garde electronic poetry, this project contends that the use of such forms by Irish poets in Ireland and abroad necessarily entails the transgression of national, geographical, and linguistic borders. Poets of interest include Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Justin Quinn, Sinead Morrissey, David Wheatley, and Catherine Walsh. By problematizing the relationship between these poets and an Irish tradition confined by the boundaries of the nation, this study challenges received definitions of Irish poetry and opens up new understandings of form and culture.
This project builds on broader critical engagement with transnationalism in Irish Studies to offer a unique and significant intervention in the construction of national literary narratives and the resulting formation of a canon in contemporary Irish poetry criticism..
Dr Laura Lovejoy
Dr Laura Lovejoy is a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of English, UCC. Her Irish Research Council fellowship will fund the preparation of a monograph, Irish Modernism, Degeneration and the Body, which maps the relationship between Irish modernist representations of the body and theories of cultural degeneration during the first two decades of Irish independence. She is a specialist in James Joyce studies and Irish modernisms, and her research interests include historical approaches to modernism, biopolitics, fictional representations of the gendered body, and the relationship between modernism and commercial sex. Dr Lovejoy is currently co-organising a symposium, 'Biopolitical Modernism', to be held at UCC in Spring 2018. Her work has been published in the journal Humanities.
Outline of Project
Social degeneration, or degeneration theory, was a widespread and influential concept which emerged from the confluence of social and biological sciences in the nineteenth century and gained traction in diverse political arenas in the early twentieth century. Proponents of degeneration theory pointed to social and moral, as well as biological, factors as the root causes of the perceived decay of European civilisation.
This project explores the relationship between early twentieth-century Irish fiction, the body, and dominant political and cultural ideas of decline. While degeneration theory has been predominantly associated with nineteenth-century Europe, ideas of degeneration came to constitute one of the foremost expressions of state power as Ireland transitioned to a fully independent state with its own constitution between 1922 and 1937 (the Free State period). As social anxieties about national decline gained increasing cultural currency in this unstable political landscape, a similar narrative preoccupation with degeneration emerged in the literature of the period. The book argues for a distinctively Irish modernism: thematically and formally experimental texts that are shaped by the fraught aftermath of civil war and political insurrection.
Furthermore, analysing the varying ways in which the body is represented in the 1920s and 1930s fictions of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, and Kate O’Brien, this project suggests that the body is the primary mode through which Irish modernism responds to dominant ideas of national decline and, more broadly, the authority of the post-independence state. Demonstrating the prevalence of the body in decline in this under-explored subset of early twentieth-century writing, the book sheds new light on the cultural politics of Irish modernism by probing both its impact and its limitations.
Dr Lijuan Qian
Dr Lijuan Qian is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Music, UCC. She completed a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield in 2011 and a MA in Musicology at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2005. Lijuan is mainly working on mass aesthetics and popular music in China, have been published a monograph and several articles in the field. Lijuan is also the award holder of various grants including: CAROLINE, IRC postdoctoral Fellowship; The Scientific Research Foundation from China State Education Ministry; and ORS from British Government, and University Studentship and Excellence Exchange Scheme from University of Sheffield.
Outline of Project
As a global phenomenon, changing ecosystems and human lifestyles have brought about the rapid loss of many musical and other cultural traditions. A growing awareness of the importance of maintaining cultural diversity has led to actions by local, national and international agencies to promote cultural sustainability.
My project will contribute fresh knowledge on the maintenance of threatened culture heritage by building on recent theoretical advances in applied ethnomusicology. Current research in this discipline emphasises that the key step in sustaining cultural heritage is to sustain the people produce this culture, acknowledging all culture-impacting factors as part a whole ecosystem. Meanwhile, researchers note that many actions undertaken by governmental and international agencies are based on outsiders’ own interpretations as to what cultural heritage is and how it might best be sustained, as external experts speak over the voices and sensitivities of culture bearers themselves. In my work, I will combine these insights, plus associated ideologies and methodologies, drawing also on the lessons of a body of practical experience developed over many years in rural areas of Yunnan, an economically underdeveloped, multi-ethnic province in China.
First, I will analyse the ‘Tufeng’ projects which were carried out primarily among the Pumi, Yi and Wa ethnicities. The longterm partners among these communities are by now highly experienced in reflecting why and how various projects succeeded or failed and what lessons I can draw for future work. Notably, these projects give significant position to women participants, since men are regularly labour migrants working far from home. Second, I will develop a new set of projects among the Miao and Zhuang ethnicities in collaboration with the Yunnan-based NGO Eco-Women. Eco-Women has existing partnerships with these communities and offers a medium-scale NGO setting that brings special expertise to matters of women’s sustainable economic development.
Dr Martin Wall
Dr Martin Wall graduated from the School of History in UCC in 2012 with a PhD focusing on Irish and European Economic Community relations in the 1970s. Following roles with the European Commission and the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster where he worked closely with the Irish Naval Service, Martin was awarded a Marie Curie CAROLINE Award to explore civil/military approaches to humanitarian crises in the context of climate change. He will work with the German NGO adelphi for the first two years of the project before returning to the School of History in year three.
Outline of Project
In September 2016 President Barack Obama directed all state agencies to include climate change as an issue in national security documents. He was referring to the force that climate change can be in exacerbating situations in vulnerable locations around the world.
This project will explain how military resources are being used to deal with emergency humanitarian crises that are increasingly familiar as a result of climate change. It will assess if all factors are accounted for by assessing the cooperation from the perspectives of (i) the state, (ii) human rights based approach and (iii) gender, religion and race.
The project reflects the changing role of militaries who are now not only expected to perform duties related to the defence of the state against foreign aggressors but also monitoring, policing, fighting against criminal activities, rescue missions and assisting in humanitarian crises. Militaries are deployed to deal with incidents from natural disasters (such as US troops in Haiti after the 2016 hurricane) and migration (such as the deployment of European Union (EU) naval resources in the Mediterranean).
The consequences for civil-military relations in this is that the line of competency is increasingly blurred. The decision of Medecins Sans Frontieres to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2004 citing efforts by the military to use humanitarian aid to build support for political and military aims suggests that this is not always regarded as a positive outcome. The questions are, can political aims be separated from aid and how can militaries adapt their training to take into account issues of gender, religion and race when responding to emergency humanitarian events?
This is not a phenomenon that is purely of scholarly interest. With the likelihood of this type of conflict becoming more frequent, policy makers need to understand how current models using a whole of government approach can be improved.
Dr Martina Piperno
I graduated at Università La Sapienza, in Rome, where I come from. I was then awarded my PhD in Italian studies 2016 by the University of Warwick (UK). I have been a visiting fellow at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Seton Hall University, Queen Mary University of London. My research tackles representations of time (timelines, time travel, time names, continuity and discontinuity of time) in Italian theory and literature, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries. My first book, “Rebuilding Post-Revolutionary Italy: Leopardi and Vico’s New Science”, is currently in press by the Voltaire Foundation of Oxford.
Outline of Project - 'Italicity’
I‘Italicity’ is a term recently coined to describe delocalized Italian identity (i.e. Italian communities abroad, writers of a different background who write in Italian) as opposed to nation-bound Italian-ness. However, Italian identity has for a long time confronted itself with the phantom of ‘Italics’, that is to say, those peoples who lived in the peninsula before the rise of Rome, which almost completely destroyed them. The term ‘Italic’/’Italicity’, therefore, has a history which I intend to uncover. Due to the mysterious nature of these peoples (they left little or no trace of themselves) and their being isolated in a remote past as well as in a peripheral space (the Italian South and the countryside), the culture of ancient Italians became in time a perfect ‘open’ space to project the obsessions and cultural tensions of modern times. My project will produce the first comprehensive study of the projections and manias originating from the myth of ancient Italians, from the Italian Unification period to date, including the tradition of Italian horror and science fiction that deals with the idea of the uncanny return of Italic peoples in ghostly, uncanny, phantasmic forms. I will devote special attention to how ‘Italic’ identity challenged the traditional line of descent from ancient Rome as a peculiar feature of Italian identity. This forces us to decentralize our viewpoint on Italy, muddling the notions of nationality and ethnicity as fixed in time and space.
Dr Tatiana Vagramenko
Tatiana is a social anthropologist. She holds an MA degree in Religious Studies and an MA degree in Anthropology. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from Maynooth University. He PhD thesis is grounded in the field of anthropology of Christianity and provides an analysis of a complex process of religious change among indigenous people of the Russian Arctic.
Tatiana’s research interests include religion and resistance to power, religious fundamentalism and secularism, ethnic and religious minorities in Russia and Ukraine. Based on a lengthy field experience, her work focuses on the politicization of religion in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine, and the legacy of Soviet religious dissent and religious minorities’ resistance to authoritarian regime in postsocialist societies.
Tatiana is an affiliated researcher at the Centre of Arctic and Siberian Exploration, Institute for Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences; and Grup d’Estudis sobre Cultures Indígenes i Afroamericanes, University of Barcelona.
Outline of Project - Religious Minorities in Ukraine from the Soviet Underground to the Euromaidan: Pathways to Religious Freedom and Pluralism in Enlarging Europe
The European integration of postsocialist societies has highlighted the significance of the unique experience of Soviet forced secularization and post-Soviet religious revival for processes of democratization and pluralism in society. This is important as an enlarging Europe faces the re-emergence of religion in the public sphere and political life. In some quarters, this has prompted a growing distrust and hostility, as religious revival has become associated with extremism and conflicts.
Based on the historical and contemporary experience of Ukraine, this project aims to question the assumption that religion should be considered a threat to democracy and social cohesion. It will approach this problem through an exploration of the relationship between processes of marginalization, persecution and resistance during communism and how religious communities created alternative structures that could later be utilized for democratic action.
This project refocuses attention on the role of religion in postsocialist Ukraine by exploring and contrasting alternative histories of religious minorities in two regions of Ukraine. It explores the role of nonconformist evangelical minorities in the emergence of democratic structures and in securing broad civil liberties in Ukraine. Drawing upon historical materials from recently opened KGB secret files in Ukrainian archives, the project explores how religious minorities, even when persecuted, contributed to setting legal parameters of freedom of conscience during the Soviet period and in transition Ukraine.
In the current context of Ukraine’s political crisis, an important question is how to achieve national unity in an ethnically and religiously diverse society. The politicization of religion, new forms of religious dissent, and religious intolerance are pressing issues in Ukraine, particularly since the civil unrest of the last three years. This project approaches the present socio-political challenges through the historical study of evangelical communities and how their responses to political change have contributed to the emergence of democratic structures.
Dr Tracy Collins
Tracy Collins, a graduate of UCC (BA, MA, PhD) is a professional archaeologist co-founding an archaeological consultancy in 1997. She has over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of the archaeological profession. She was previously a member of the Board of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland, and chair of the Irish Post Medieval Archaeology Group for seven years. She continues as a committee member of IPMAG and is currently the honorary secretary of the standing committee for archaeology at the Royal Irish Academy. Her IRC project is to publish her doctoral thesis as a monograph.
Outline of Project - An Archaeology of Female Monasticism in Medieval Ireland (publication)..
There is no archaeological book on holy women and nuns in medieval Ireland. The book will appeal to archaeologists, and others who have an interest in holy women. It is based on my thesis which has considered medieval nuns in Ireland, the nunneries they lived in and how they lived their lives, through all the material they left behind. We know a little about nuns from history. I recorded the archaeology and upstanding architecture, then considered all the evidence through lenses of gender and landscape. I undertook excavation to gather more information of nuns. My study is based on the theory that nunneries were not the same as male religious houses, but they were not supposed to be. Nunneries had different functions. While some nunneries used what is considered a typical layout of a monastery with church and buildings laid out around a small garden, my study found that in many cases a nunnery was a small church with attached accommodation, or a separate house, particularly when nuns lived in towns. These insights would not have been possible from the historical evidence alone.
Why become a nun? Medieval women did so for lots of reasons, though most were from wealthier families. Like monks, nuns lived in their convents and following a routine called the ‘Divine Office’, with special occasions, like saints’ feast days, celebrated in special ways. It is sometimes thought that nuns were locked away, but the history and archaeology show us that they were not isolated and had connections with the world outside, and their families. Nunneries were especially important to their local community. Nuns had to maintain these ties in order to continue to function, and to stay relevant, so people would continue to support the nunnery as their church, and for some, their place of burial.