News and Events

Listen now! Unacknowledged Legislators: Irish Poets and the Law

23 Mar 2020

As part of the School of Law's remote working series, we are delighted to offer access to a guest lecture on law and literature, delivered virtually to School of Law students last week. 

In these testing times of social distancing as Ireland comes together (while staying apart!) to battle the COVID-19 virus, the School of Law, like the rest of UCC, has switched to remote working.

As the School of Law adjusts to working remotely, we will share some tips and reflections on what’s working well, lessons we are learning from online teaching, and creative ways we can enhance the learning experience for students in these unprecedented circumstances.

Virtual learning

One such creative way of working is the delivery of special guest lectures virtually. Last week, Dr Patrick O'Callaghan and his Jurisprudence class were delighted to welcome Dr Adam Hanna from the UCC School of English to deliver a lecture on law and literature. This guest lecture was originally intended to be held in person, but rather than postpone it following the university closure, Dr O'Callaghan and Dr Hanna decided to deliver it remotely. 

The lecture, entitled Unacknowledged Legislators: Irish Poets and the Law, is an examination of the public roles that poets and poetry have taken on in modern Ireland. What public expectations has history handed down to poets in modern Ireland? How have these expectations been complicated by modernist philosophical inhibitions and changed ideas of what poetry is? In this lecture, Dr Hanna explores these questions with reference to a strange, self-ridiculing poem about prison-breaking, Seamus Heaney's 'The Unacknowledged Legislator's Dream' (North, 1975).

We are pleased to make this guest lecture publicly available, with thanks to Dr Hanna. 

Download and listen to Unacknowledged Legislators: Irish Poets and the Law

The audio recording is available here: 

With the accompanying slideset here: Unacknowledged Legislators

"A great reminder of language's richness and possibilities"

Reflecting on the virtual guest lecture, Dr Adam Hanna said:

"When John Mee and Patrick O'Callaghan (School of Law) first approached me about giving this lecture, I was delighted by the idea of talking to law students about poetry, literature and the humanities. I think it's important for legal professionals, whose work is so rooted in language, to engage with poetry. It's a great reminder of language's richness and possibilities.

Neither Patrick nor I could have foreseen what has happened since then, though. Now that our lecture-halls and seminar rooms have fallen temporarily silent, I'm delighted UCC Law department has made this digital lecture freely available. While it's a bit of an odd feeling to have co-organised a lecture with a colleague I've never met for people that I can't see, it's a great feeling as well. I'm happy to do my tiny bit to help keep the lifelines open while the seminars and lectures that students and academics normally rely on aren't running. The Jurisprudence students at UCC have risen marvellously to the challenge of this new way of learning. I've found it really illuminating to read their discussions of my lecture on the virtual learning space, Canvas.

If anyone else who listens to this lecture wants to get in touch or discuss their own research ideas in this area, then it would be great if they would drop me a line -"

We hope you enjoy this lecture, from wherever you happen to tune in! If the topic of law and literature interests you, do keep an eye out for Dr Hanna's new book, Poetic Justice: Poetry, Politics and the Law in Modern Ireland (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming).

School of Law

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