This is the first post in a series of interviews conducted by the Woodruff Library with the 2019-2020 Emory Libraries/Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Fellows. Funded by the Laney Graduate School, the library and ECDS award fellowships to advanced graduate students expecting to complete their dissertations by the end of the fellowship period. Fellows are placed within the Woodruff Library, Rose Library and ECDS to work in an area related to their subject specialization or interest, culminating in a formal presentation in the spring.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your favorite book? What’s your favorite thing about Emory/Atlanta?
Originally from Wexford, Ireland, I came to the U.S for the first time in 2011 after completing my joint honors B.A in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilization at NUI Maynooth. I completed an M.A in Irish and Irish-American Literature at New York University before embarking on my Ph.D. in English Literature at Emory in 2014. My graduate career from NYU to Emory has challenged me in ways I never anticipated and has allowed me to grow as a young professional and as a young scholar in equal measure. The opportunity to study in New York and Atlanta on an F-1 visa has been such a privilege, and I feel a responsibility to pay that privilege forward wherever my future career takes me.
My current favorite book (I cycle through favorites periodically) is Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self. A non-fictional collection of essays that reflect on everything from familial relationships to internalized sexism in academia. Another close-second favorite is Eimear McBride’s novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. A tough but vital read for anyone interested in contemporary Irish literature.
My favorite thing about Atlanta – aside from the incredible people I’ve met while living here – is the food culture. From Buford Highway to Fox Bros. BBQ we’re spoiled for choice in the city. I could live on nothing but Revolution Donuts! I also love that Emory University is so close to the restaurants and cafes in Downtown Decatur making it an easy trip when I want to explore food options off-campus.
What are you researching for your dissertation?
My dissertation explores the burgeoning canon of working-class Irish literature as it intersects with theories on the meaning of “home” and “housing.” Often relegated to the margins of the Irish literary canon, working-class literature, I argue, offers some of the most radical destabilizations of twentieth-and-twenty-first-century social and political policy in Ireland, specifically policy focused on issues of housing and social welfare. My project includes both working-class and non-working-class authors in order to interrogate how current academic criticism approaches questions of authorial (in)authenticity when it comes to issues of class representation in Irish literature. My project also seeks to include independent interviews with three published working-class authors working in Ireland today. In doing so, I will be contributing to a very new canon of academic thought and critique about the importance of creating a diverse, intersectional, and representative Irish literary canon.
What interested you about the Woodruff Library Fellowship?
The Research and Engagement Fellowship particularly excited me because of the sheer range of professionalization opportunities it affords. I will be able to build on the research and pedagogical skills I have already developed as a graduate student by cultivating my digital literacy through website development and curation; by teaching instruction sessions to a much broader cross-section of Emory students; and by developing my knowledge of how to create and maintain library collection policies. As a graduate student who is exploring alternative careers beyond the professoriate, having the chance to work with the RESC department of the Woodruff Library will be invaluable to me as I begin to apply for jobs in the non-profit/advocacy sector.
What will you be working on this year for your Woodruff Library Fellowship?
I’ve already gotten started on several exciting projects! They include: redesigning and updating the Irish Studies Program website, redesigning and updating our Omeka showcase exhibit on Emory’s Artists’ Books collection, developing content and co-teaching instruction sessions with my colleague Sarah Morris, creating LibGuide content for English Studies generally (and Irish Studies more specifically), reviewing and editing specific collection policy related to our Irish literary collections, and assisting in the research process for the Beck Grant project spearheaded by Sarah Morris. I’m also hoping to use my time here to develop a one-or two-day professionalization event in co-ordination with Emory’s Career Services dept.