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Trinity School of English

Welcome from Head of School Welcome to the first annual School of English Alumni Newsletter. I am happy to report that the past year has been a lively one. We have been engaged in a review of our undergraduate curriculum and are designing a new course for students entering from 2018 onwards. Research by staff has continued to flourish, and has issued in significant publications and conferences. We were particularly delighted in September 2016 to welcome two new colleagues to the School under the Ussher Programme: Dr Mark Faulkner to work in the field of medieval literature and Dr Jane Carroll in that of children’s literature. In November, we held a very successful GradLink evening in the Trinity Long Room Hub. The GradLink programme matches alumni and current students in a mentoring relationship. Listening as each mentor made a brief address to the students I was forcibly struck by the range of expertise on offer and, of course, by the generosity of our alumni in making this tremendous opportunity available to our students. Dubliners will be aware that for the last months Trinity has been in the eye of a storm of construction as the Luas works continue, and we’ve been able to observe and—less happily hear—progress from the 4th floor of the Arts Block. Those of you who have had occasion to use the Nassau Street entrance recently will notice that it has had a welcome makeover and is now much brighter and friendlier. The Arts Block divides opinion, but even its fans will agree that it is, like many of us, beginning to show its age. We are pleased that there are plans gradually to refurbish its teaching spaces so as to allow for a more cheerful classroom experience. We look forward to meeting you over the course of 2017.

Aileen Douglas Head of Shool

Newsletter 2016–17 2014 – 2015

Interview with Professor Nicholas Grene On the importance of writers to the University community GD: I’ve always been impressed by the way you have seen literature in terms of a creative alliance between the University and the wider literary community. Was that something that was just natural to you? NG: I suppose I have always felt that writers bring to the understanding of literature something which is quite unlike what we as academics can do. They’re practitioners, they see it from the inside. They may not look at it in the same sort of formal or technical or theoretical terms, but they know what it’s about and one of the things that has been so exciting to me as a teacher here has been teaching students who have gone on to become writers—most obviously Deirdre Madden our colleague, Anne Enright, Michael West, Belinda McKeon, Sinéad Morrissey—to see the way in which students who have writing ambitions, when they tackle literature, the appetite they have for it.

On what Trinity means to him Professor Grene at the Synge Summer School, of which he was founding Director (1991–2000).

To celebrate the distinguished academic career of Professor Nicholas Grene, who retired in 2015, 50 years after entering Trinity as an undergraduate, Professor Gerald Dawe interviewed him for our Alumni Newsletter. Professor Grene has taken up a role with the Trinity Access Programme and is Academic Director of the January Term Programme in Modern Irish Writing.

GD: If I was to push you for one statement about what this place means to you, what would that be? NG: Oh dear, where would I start? I think it has to do with three things: the arrangement of our teaching system, the fact that we get to teach the whole way through from Freshman right through to graduate students; the quality of the students, we attract really first-rate students, both from within Ireland and from abroad, so that it’s been possible for me, essentially to workshop ideas, themes that subsequently I want to use for publication with some of the brightest young people around; and finally the quality of my colleagues—I’ve been very lucky in having both extremely brilliant fellow academic scholars and also people, like yourself, who are practitioner-critics and have that capacity to move between the two worlds of creativity and criticism. So I think I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to be able, to a large extent, to tailor my own teaching, choose what I want to teach, with a view to what I want to write about, while also having the stimulus of marvellous students and very very congenial colleagues. You can listen to the full interview here:

‘What is the City but the People?’ Many English students and graduates have been active members of the DU Players. From the Players archives: Anne Enright (TSM English & Philosophy), Declan Hughes (TSM English & Philosophy), Darragh Kelly (BESS) and an unidentified student in a 1982 Players production of Coriolanus in the Exam Theatre. Reprinted with kind permission from Anne Enright, Declan Hughes, Darragh Kelly and the Library of Trinity College Dublin.


Yale–TCD Alumni Bursary The 2016 Yale–TCD Alumni Bursary for Research in Children’s Literature has been awarded to Rebecca Long, a PhD student in the School of English. Rebecca is working on cultural heritage and mythological narratives in Irish children’s literature and the Bursary will allow her to research Series I and II of the Shirley Collection, which deal with authors and illustrators for children from 1719 to 2001. Previous awardees of the Alumni Bursary are Brian McManus (2015), Margot Blankier (2014) and Peter Doherty (2013). The Yale–TCD Alumni Bursary is made possible by the generous support of our graduates through the Alumni Appeal.



Class Notes Class of ’76 Siobhán Parkinson writes fiction, mostly for children, and her new book Miraculous Miranda (age 10+) was published by Hodder in 2016.

Class of ’79 Wesley Hutchinson has been living in Paris since 1979 and is Professor of Irish Studies at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3.

Class of ’96 Brian Crowley is Curator of the Pearse Museum. His book Patrick Pearse, a Life in Pictures was published in 2013.

Love and Other Man-Made Disasters came out in 2016 with Orion. Clare Mac Cumhaill is a lecturer in Philosophy at Durham University working on philosophy of perception, especially space.

Class of 2001 Davin O’Dwyer is a journalist with the Irish Times newspaper and writes for publications such as the Washington Post and Slate.

Class of 2002 Musa Gurnis is Assistant Professor of English at Washington University in St Louis finishing her first book on early modern theatre.

Class of 2004 Lucy Moore is working as a conflict specialist for one of the largest international humanitarian organisations.

Class of 2008 Jonathan Drennan works in advertising and has recently moved to Sydney where he’s stocking up on vitamin D after a long Irish childhood.

Class of 2009 Simone Cameron-Coen works as the Civic Engagement Officer in Trinity, spending her days encouraging volunteering for the good of her soul. Tara Robinson is a director and writer, running her own company The Conker Group to make new theatre work in London and the south-east of England.

Class of 2011 Aerandir Baiza is currently based in Dublin where he works for an American software company. Gráinne Clear works as Publishing Manager for Little Island Books (, an independent children’s publisher based in Dublin.

Class of 2012 Ann-Maria McCarthy is currently a member of the Soho Theatre Young Company. She is still obsessed with Radclyffe Hall and Vera Brittain.

Class of ’99

Ronan Murphy lives in Dublin, where he is putting together his first poetry collection, Behind the Gashouse, and singing with The Sweet Naive ( and The Mighty Kindness.

Gillian Brennan is a director of Jobcare, a charity serving long-term unemployed people. Katie Holly is Producer and Managing Director of Dublin-based Blinder Films ( Francis Leneghan is Associate Professor of Old English at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College. Breige McGuckian did a postgrad in Business and IT and now works in the property business. She is married to Declan Lawn, who makes TV documentaries for the BBC. Christine Ryan is an editorial consultant living in Dublin. She is still working on her first novel which she expects to be self-published posthumously.

Class of 2000 Nicola Doherty lives in London with her husband and writes fiction; her fourth novel

Kate Packwood (Photo by Al Higgins)

Kate Packwood runs Wildflour Bakery, which makes award-winning artisan cakes.

Class of 2005 Katie Dickson lives in Dublin. When she is not coddling her eccentric cocker spaniel, she works as a school librarian.

Class of 2006 Alana Kerr is living in Los Angeles, California where she works as an actress and audiobook narrator.

Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson is living in Chicago, finding homes for her poetry and running the Wasted Pages workshop for the Chicago Publishers Resource Centre.

Class of 2014 Thomas Helm is currently living in Geneva, where he works for an NGO that monitors the activity of the UN Human Rights Council. Publications include Silence, Passion and Music (Barbet Books, 2015) and various articles for and the International Service of Human Rights ( If you have news to share in our next newsletter, please contact us by email at


Newsletter 2016–17 2014 – 2015

Graduate Profiles Belinda McKeon (2000)

Photo: Aengus Woods

I read before I got to Trinity’s School of English, and I wrote, but not in the way I learned to read and write—and think—within its walls. Not that they felt like walls, but quite like the opposite—like the great expanses of space opening outwards and upwards after the walls had fallen away. My mind stumbled over itself for the first six months or so, a little in shock: a little hesitant, after the absorb-and-regurgitate regime of the Leaving Cert, to believe that I could actually dive into books like Northanger Abbey and Orlando and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, and into poems like ‘The Tollund Man’ and ‘Night Feed’ and ‘Ariel’, and into essays—there was such a thing as an essay that was not a dreary rolling-out of everything you were supposed to say—on subjects like melodrama and desire and camp. You could write essays on these things? You could think

about them? You could, in a seminar room full of brilliant people and teachers who were so inspirational you ended up basically stalking them, talk about these things until the hour was up and you spun out into the corridor and into the funny, red-painted staircase, high on ideas and the enjoyment of having them, high on the possibilities of what your own, bursting mind could do? Ah, Trinity School of English, take me back as an undergrad. I know I’ve done the whole degree thing already, but let’s pretend. Otherwise I’ll keep writing novels about you anyway, and that’s just going to get embarrassing for both of us. And to anyone considering a degree here: what are you waiting for? Start this unforgettable chapter of your life, and start it now.

Sarah Baume Awarded Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize Sarah Baume’s first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Tramp Press), was announced as the recipient of the 2015 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in December 2016. Baume graduated from the School of English MPhil in Creative Writing in 2011 and her debut novel has received significant acclaim since its publication in early 2015, including the 2015 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and longlist nominations for the International Dublin Literary Award (2017), Guardian First Book Award (2015), Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award (2016), Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award and the Warwick Prize for Writing (2015). Baume’s second novel, A Line Made by Walking, was published by Tramp Press in February 2017. Baume’s publisher, Tramp Press (tramppress. com), was co-founded in 2014 by Trinity


alumna Lisa Coen (MPhil 2007, PhD 2011) and Sarah Davis-Goff. A new independent publishing house, Tramp Press has already received more than 1,000 submissions and published twelve titles.

Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff, founders of Tramp Press.



Helen Cooney (In Memoriam) Helen Cooney, who died prematurely in 2014, was a gifted and successful teacher of medieval and Renaissance English literature and a scholar of high international repute. A Scholar of the University, she graduated in English in 1983 and went on to do postgraduate research. She received an MA in Medieval Literature, with distinction, from the University of Bristol in 1990 and completed a fine PhD on Chaucer in Trinity in 1993, for which I was her supervisor. She held lectureships at Queen Mary and Westfield College London (1993), at the University of Nottingham (1999–2001) and at Trinity (1996–99, 2004–07). She was also a regular and valued contributor to the MPhil in Medieval Languages, Literatures and Culture here from 2006 onwards.

and she contributed willingly and frequently to conferences. She was also held in great respect by her peers so that many of the best contemporary medievalists were prepared to contribute to the three books she edited, which were all uniformly well received. Of Nation, Court and Culture: New Essays on Fifteenth-Century English Poetry (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001) one reviewer wrote, ‘This is the most enlivening set of essays on fifteenth-century poetry I know.’ In her alltoo-brief career, Helen Cooney contributed significantly to a paradigm shift which has taken place in the way that late medieval English literature is approached and valued. Professor John Scattergood (Emeritus)

She was much sought after as a guest lecturer

Antoinette Quinn (In Memoriam) Antoinette Quinn was appointed to a Lectureship in English at Trinity in 1974. She went on to have a successful career here, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1990 and elected a Fellow of the University in 1992. Antoinette was one of the founding members of the Centre for Women’s Studies. Her distinguished undergraduate career in Queen’s University Belfast was capped by her doctoral research on Thomas Hardy and Edward Thomas, but it was Patrick Kavanagh whose work she made her special subject. First her critical study Patrick Kavanagh: Born-Again Romantic (1991) and then her biography Patrick Kavanagh: A Life (2001) were published to huge critical acclaim. The poet Anthony Cronin, a close friend of Kavanagh’s, concluded his review of the latter: ‘Antoinette Quinn has written a wonderful biography of

this complex spirit: deeply researched, full of fascinating detail and entirely readable from beginning to end. This is the book we’ve been waiting for.’ Antoinette was a gregarious person for whom friends were very important, enjoying company, talk and gossip. She could be wonderfully funny; there was a quiver of amusement in her face and a laugh in her eyes as she told her stories. She was a great satirist, but her astringent sense of humour was as often at her own expense as that of others. All of us who worked with her, her many friends and fellow students will miss her greatly. Professor Nicholas Grene (Emeritus)


Newsletter 2016–17 2014 – 2015

Staying in Touch Irish Research Council. The project has created an online catalogue and database of children’s books in five Dublin libraries.


Follow them on Facebook, NCCBIreland, or on Twitter,

The School of English has set up a page where you can listen to talks given by speakers visiting the school.

Google Cultural Institute Exhibitions School of English Book Party, February 2015. (Photo by Huda Awan)

Publications The School of English Book Party The School of English Book Party in February 2015 celebrated 25 publications from the School of English. For details on recent publications, visit For recent online publications, visit http:// Publications.php.

National Collection of Children’s Books The NCCB is a major collaborative project (Trinity School of English and the Church of Ireland College of Education) funded by the

Writing Art in Ireland, an exhibition on texts responding to the visual arts in Ireland, was launched on the Google Cultural Institute platform in October 2016. In January 2017, The Journey of The Playboy, which explores the development of J.M. Synge’s most celebrated play, was launched on the same platform.

Staff–Postgraduate Seminar Series The Staff–Postgraduate Seminar Series gives students and staff a chance to present and discuss their research and continues to host distinguished guest speakers. For more information on this year’s series, visit php.

To listen, visit literary-arts/Podcasts.php.

Evening Lecture Series The School’s Evening Lecture Series continues to go from strength to strength, presenting a wide variety of texts and forms of textual analysis to the public. Leaving Certificate texts are focussed on from October to December and the period from January to March features a different theme each year. This term’s theme is ‘Animals in Literature’. If you are interested in attending, email

Icarus Ireland’s longest-running arts publication is publishing its back catalogue online. To view the latest issue or to read past issues, visit

Celebrating 40 Years of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature On 5 September 2016, bilingual poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Ireland Professor of Poetry and Professor Emeritus Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has described Ní Ghríofa as ‘a poet to watch, with a fresh view of the world’. The 2016 award also marked the 40th anniversary of the prestigious literary award, which recognises the work of an Irish writer under 40 who has been published in either English or Irish. The Prize was founded by former US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia and is the longest-running Irish literary award. The September 2016 ceremony honoured 6

Baume (2015). To view a short film celebrating 40 years of the Rooney Prize which features Doireann Ní Ghríofa reading poems from her collection Clasp, visit

the current recipient as well as past recipients and the generosity of the Rooney family. The award event, hosted in the Old Dining Hall, was attended by several past recipients of the award including Anne Enright (1991), Kevin Barry (2007), Colin Barrett (2014) and Sarah


GradLink Mentoring Programme In November, the School of English welcomed Junior and Senior Sophister students and alumni to participate in the launch of our second GradLink Mentoring Programme. GradLink matches students with mentors in a wide range of sectors, including journalism, publishing, diplomacy, marketing, broadcasting, politics and design and digital media for careers mentoring from November to June. Students who join the programme request to be matched with an alumni mentor who corresponds with their career interests. Our mentoring groups meet up to three times


over the course of the programme and graduates provide students with guidance in areas such as CV and LinkedIn profile development, interview and networking skills, career development, creative practice and applications for graduate programmes. The programme is administrated by the School Global Officer, Dr Julia Maher, and supported by the Alumni Office and the Careers Advisory Service. Thank you to all of our mentors who participated in both our 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 programmes for generously giving your time and for sharing your knowledge with our current students. If you are interested in participating as a mentor in the next GradLink programme, please contact Sarah-Kate Geraghty at For further information on the programme visit ‘Our meetings were characterised by a very positive energy and a mutually energising exchange of ideas. I would highly recommend [GradLink] as a way of re-connecting with the energy of education and sharing in the anticipation of students on the cusp of new horizons!’ (Anders Larsen, GradLink mentor)

The School of English and the Trinity Education Project With a major University-wide renewal of the undergraduate programme now underway in the form of the Trinity Education Project (TEP), we in the School of English have been devoting considerable time in recent months to reviewing our own curriculum. This presents a significant opportunity to reflect on our offering to students and on our relationship with schools and departments across the University. We are thinking increasingly about how we preserve our distinct identity, while positioning the organisation and delivery of our teaching within this new framework. Some of the core objectives of TEP are already standard practice in the School. For example, the Project will promote nontraditional modes of assessment, moving away from the end-of-year exam on which

so much tends to rest and allowing instead for the different aptitudes and learning styles of students. In our Sophister modules, lecturers are free to devise their own preferred assessments. Alongside essays, students may be asked to keep a journal of their reading, deliver presentations, conduct primary research or incorporate creative responses. We hope this emphasises to our students the value we place on the many different ways of forming and articulating responses to literature. Another key feature of TEP is the promotion of greater interdisciplinarity, enabling students to follow modules in a range of different subjects from the beginning of their university careers. Many of us necessarily think across disciplines in our own research, putting the ideas, approaches

and vocabularies of other subjects to service in our literary criticism. With TEP, which is geared towards a researchinspired curriculum, we are facing new and interesting challenges. How will we devise courses in English which might be suitable for a student from Engineering or Business Studies to follow for one semester, while at the same continuing to stimulate students who are firmly rooted in the arts and humanities? And how can we best respond to and encourage the new diversity of skills and strengths we will be encountering in teaching students from across the University? These are important questions, and they are prompting valuable conversations.


Upcoming Events The School of English free public Popular Literature Lunchtime Lectures will run to 29 March 2017 in the Trinity Long Room Hub. For more information visit Swift350 is a Dublin-wide celebration to mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift. A display devoted to Swift opened in the Long Room of the Library on 31 January 2017, with an online exhibition planned for the summer. An academic conference devoted to Swift will take place in Trinity from 7 to 9 June 2017. For more information visit The 7th annual Samuel Beckett Summer School takes place on campus from 30 July to 4 August 2017, with a full programme of speakers and events. For more details and registration visit

Running on 7 and 8 July 2017, Literary Archives in the Digital Age is a conference which aims both to showcase contemporary archival research and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges presented by 21st-century archival study. See for more information. Two lecturers from the School, Julie Bates and Rosie Lavan, have been awarded funding from the Trinity Arts Faculty Strategic Fund for a two-day public programme. Remapping Trinity: A Literary Atlas of the University will take place on 12 and 13 April 2017, during Trinity Week. For more information, or to register for the programme, please contact or

Beyond the Book of Kells, a forthcoming series of free evening lectures organised by Dr Mark Faulkner, Ussher Assistant Professor in Medieval Literature in the School of English, in partnership with the Library and the Long Room Hub, will begin on 3 October and continue on the first Tuesday of every month until May 2018. The final schedule will be announced in the summer on It is always great to welcome our alumni back to campus. Check the Trinity Long Room Hub events page ( events) and the School of English website ( for more upcoming events.

Get Involved

Upcoming Alumni Events

Class Notes

Trinity has a long tradition of outreach and community engagement. To find out about the numerous ways you can get involved with Trinity both at home and abroad, please visit

Alumni Weekend 2017 25 to 27 August 2017

Do you have any news or updates that you would like to share with your fellow alumni? Submit your news with an image, subject of study and year of graduation to For more information please visit

Other Upcoming Events: @tcdalumni



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English newsletter 16-17  

English newsletter 16-17