About the School

The School of English is ranked among the top 150 Universities for English in the QS World University Rankings 2012. One of the of the largest schools in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, English at Cork includes Drama and Theatre Studies, Film and Screen Media and Digital Arts and Humanities.  Our staff includes 19  research-active academic staff (18 full-time and one part-time), post-doctoral research fellows, a School manager and 3 administrative staff, as well as around 25 MA students annually and over 30 PhD students.  We are committed to providing excellent, research-led teaching to our undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as to enriching cultural and intellectual life, nationally and locally, through our research, publications and public engagement.

Some of our particular strengths include: Irish literature throughout the colonial period and into the twenty-first century; American literature, 19th to 21st centuries; Old English literature and culture; Modernisms (Irish, American and British);  contemporary poetry, especially avant-garde and women’s work; new and emerging research methods (Digital Arts Humanities, e-textualities, the new book history); Medieval and Renaissance writing in Britain and Ireland, and Film: Irish, American and European. 

The School is firmly embedded in local and regional culture and literature, as is evident from our widely-published research on Munster's rich traditions of fiction, poetry and theatre.  Among the themes explored are Spenser and related writing about English colonial settlement in 1590s Cork, and Elizabeth Bowen and Molly Keane's interrogation of the Anglo-Irish gentry heritage.  We also produce state-of-the-art research on such diverse topics as Afro-Caribbean poets, Gothic novels, eco-criticism, and the life of the dead in medieval literature. 

We offer six successful, cutting-edge Taught MA Programmes - each grounded in current research and carefully planned and taught by an expert course team - in Creative Writing; Film Studies; Modernities; Irish Writing and Film; Texts and Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance; and Digital Arts and Humanities.

O'Faolain image: BL/L/JVK/150Sean O'Faolain Catalogue ref: BL/L/JVK/150 By kind permission of Special Collections and Archives, UCC Library‌ 

Sean O’Faolain

Sean O’Faolain, original name John Francis Whelan, was born in Cork in 1900 and died in Dublin in 1991.  He was educated at the Presentation Brothers Secondary School in Cork and later at University College Cork and Harvard University.  He was a prolific and multifarious author whose publications included short stories, novels, life writing, literary criticism, poetry and travel writing.  Amongst his best-known works are the collection of short stories A Midsummer Night Madness (1932), King of the Beggars: A Life of Daniel O’Connell (1938) and Vive Moi (1965), his autobiography.  O’Faolain was a Commonwealth Fellow from 1926 to 1928 and a Harvard Fellow from 1928 to 1929.  He served as director of the Arts Council of Ireland from 1956 to 1959 and, in recognition of his contribution to Irish literature, was elected Saoi, Aosdána highest accolade, in 1986. 

O’Faolain, the son of a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, fought with the Republican side in the War of Independence and, following the ratification of the Treaty that established the Irish Free State, served on the anti-Treaty side during the subsequent Civil War.  Initially a supporter of Eamon de Valera, he became increasingly disillusioned with both the man and his politics following Fianna Fáil’s success in the 1932 election.

In 1940, he founded The Bell, a journal that challenged the political and cultural dispensation taking shape in post-Independence Ireland.  O’Faolain’s rejection, in his Bell editorials and elsewhere, of Irish nationalism in favour of European individualism was to bring him into conflict with his former mentor, Daniel Corkery.  In 1932, both men applied for the Professorship of English at University College Cork and Corkery was appointed to the post. 

(Heather Laird)

Corkery image: UC/DC/P5 (10) Daniel Corkery Catalogue ref: UC/DC/P5 (10) By kind permission of Special Collections and Archives, UCC Library

Daniel Corkery

Daniel Corkery - writer, cultural critic, language activist, teacher and painter - was born in Cork in 1878 and died in the same city in 1964.  He was educated at the Presentation Brothers, Cork, and at St. Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin.  He worked as a primary school teacher in Cork, taught art for the local technical education committee and was Professor of English at University College Cork from 1931 to 1947.  Corkery was a mentor to younger writers and artists; Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain and Seamus Murphy were amongst his most celebrated protégés.  He was an active member of the Gaelic League and a prominent proponent of the Irish Ireland movement.  He was also involved in a number of local organisations, most notably the Cork Dramatic Society.  In his later years, he served in the Seanad and on the Arts Council.  He was a republican in politics and a close friend of Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney, successive Lord Mayors of Cork who died in tragic circumstances during the War of Independence.

Corkery began his writing career at the turn of the twentieth century in the columns of D.P. Moran’s polemical nationalist weekly, The Leader.  An Irish-language enthusiast who was not a native speaker, he wrote primarily, though not exclusively, in the English language.  His literary writings are comprised of four collections of short stories; a number of plays, including the Irish-language play, An Doras Dúnta; a novel and some poetry.  His non-fiction writings include two major critical studies, The Hidden Ireland and Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature; writings on the Irish language and on the Irish-language movement; newspaper articles on a wide range of cultural issues and reviews of Irish-language and English-language literary works.  

(Heather Laird)

Professor Lee Jenkins

Lee Jenkins completed her BA and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge. She has taught at UCC since 1994, specialising in the areas of American Literature, modernism, and modern poetry. Her recent publications include The American Lawrence (University Press of Florida, 2015) and A History of Modernist Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

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