Research in English at the University of Ulster (UU) is characterized by activity across the broad field of English from the Renaissance to the present day. This activity embraces criticism, literary history, editorial work (including journal editorship, and general editorships of a number of series), studies of specific issues and concepts, interdisciplinary projects, conference organization, publishing, and creative writing. Interdisciplinary research in English has been given an important boost by the establishment of an Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages with an endowment of £3m. (See 'Strategy' below). Sixteen research-active staff have contributed 63 publications to the present RAE. These publications may be classified as follows: 16 authored books; 8 edited books; 36 essays (either in book collections or journals); and 3 items, a pamphlet, an annual journal and a literary database, which would come under ‘other forms of assessable output’.
Research Structure and Environment
Research Co-ordination English is co-ordinated by Prof. R. Welch, who has responsibility for developing the research environment. He became Dean of the Faculty of Arts in August 2000, but he is supported by his senior research colleagues in English, Profs. R. Bradford and J. McMinn and will hand over co-ordination to Prof. McMinn in April 2001; together they oversee research targets for all research-active staff and monitor research progress. Prof. Welch acts as budget-holder for a research fund allocated to the subject area by the University through the Research Office, which is responsible to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research. These funds are distributed by the co-ordinator on the basis of performance and potential and are used strategically for such purposes as: conference attendance; travel grants to undertake research in the U.K., Ireland, or further afield; research assistance; teaching relief. Allocations made by the unit co-ordinators are targeted specifically towards the delivery of outcomes: conference attendance is normally subvented, for example, only when a paper has been invited, and publication likely; teaching relief is geared towards the completion of commissioned manuscripts, or the development of a field of fresh inquiry.
Selective Internal Funding In addition to the allocations made annually by the Research Office, the University has adopted a practice of retaining a central Research Fund, administered by a university Research Committee, to which bids can be made by unit co-ordinators for specific proposals or undertakings, thereby securing additional funding for the unit if the bid succeeds. English has benefited from allocations from these reserves since 1994 and has secured additional funding for the following: teaching relief; conference organization; administrative support for research activity; two one-year research posts; two three-year research posts.
Faculty and University Role
The work of the unit co-ordinators and the research activity of English as a whole is overseen by a Faculty Research Sub-Committee, which monitors and approves all allocations and bids, as well as study leave. Leave is granted on a regular basis to active researchers, with special consideration given to those completing research projects, and to younger scholars seeking to develop their profiles. The University solicits annual reports from units and co-ordinators and senior colleagues are interviewed on progress and problems.
Applicants for research studies are interviewed by the unit co-ordinator and at least one other senior researcher. Their progress is monitored by a Faculty Research Graduate School, which is chaired by a University-appointed Head. This School provides generic training in research skills and methods, as well as subject-specific training in a one-year course for all research students in their first year. In the first year students undergo a viva in which preliminary findings are presented and discussed. Registration for Ph.D. is confirmed only after a rigorous viva, conducted in a student’s second year, normally on the basis of two draft chapters, which simulates the examination conditions of the Ph.D. itself, with a Chairman, an internal, and an ‘external’ (drawn from another relevant Faculty subject, such as History, Philosophy, or Irish Studies). Research students are provided with computer facilities and are allocated library carrels and some shared accommodation on both campuses. They are also given limited teaching duties on the undergraduate syllabuses and their work is monitored and any marking duties carefully supervised. UU English has a 100% success rate for its research students within the reporting period. University-funded Vice-Chancellor discretionary scholarships have been made available; there has been appreciable overseas recruitment; and part-time intake has greatly increased. Indicators of vigorous activity in the training and supervision of research students in English are the figures for research graduates since 1996: M.Phil.(PT):3; Ph.D.(FT): 8; Ph.D.(PT): 12; giving a total figure of 23. Amongst our Ph.D. graduates since 1996, the following have published monographs or journal articles on their topics: B. Leacock (1999), article on D.P. Moran; P. Walsh (1998), pamphlet on John Hewitt; H. Mikami (2000) articles on Frank McGuinness; B. Lacey (1999), book on St. Columcille; Andrew Keanie (2000), short book on Wordsworth.
In the 1996 RAE we divided research activity in English into research groupings, as follows: Irish Literature and Bibliography, English Literary History, and Creative Writing. These distinctions still reflect the principal research activities in English, but we would wish to emphasize their productive interrelationships and their incorporation of important areas of activity in literary theory, women’s writing and American literature. The period 1994-2000 has seen significant expansion in the fields of Irish literary studies and English literature.
Irish Literary Studies
The University established a Research Centre in Irish Literature and Bibliography (CILB) in 1994 with a Director and designated space and facilities to encourage developmental activities and in recognition of achievements attained. Patrons of the Centre included Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Jennifer Johnston, A.N. Jeffares, Anthony Cronin, and Brendan Kennelly. The Centre, building on the experience acquired in the compilation and writing of the Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (1996), set itself specific aims and objectives: the cultivation of an awareness of the interconnectedness of Irish and English literature; the analysis of notions of identity and tradition in an Irish context; the creation of histories of various phases of Irish literature (in English and in Irish), and the carrying out of large-scale undertakings, in collaboration with an international range of universities and bodies, such as the History of the Irish Book. A series of seminars, funded by the unit co-ordinator, has been a feature of the Centre, and these have regularly involved research students and new members of staff in English. All these aims and objectives have been subsumed into the strategic aims of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages; and the patrons have maintained their support (see 'Strategy'). The University has very significant holdings in Irish literary materials: the Francis Stuart, George Sheils, and Denis Johnston archives; the Henry Morris collection; John Hewitt’s library and manuscripts; and the collection of local printings at Magee College in Derry. These research materials are currently being strengthened by RASCAL (Research and Special Collections Available Locally) a research-holdings initiative launched by Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) in association with UU and supported by the Research Support Libraries Programme (GB). This will produce a fully-searchable directory of regional collections of significant benefit to researchers in the arts and social sciences. At Coleraine there is, also, a superb collection of rare printings from all phases of European book history, the Henry Davis Bequest, providing a European context for the Irish book history project.
History of the Irish Book
This is now a major international project for English at the UU, planned several years ago, presently under contract, and securely in place with a large team of editors. In 1996 the first colloquium of the History of the Irish Book was convened at Coleraine. Subsequently funding was allocated by the British Academy to the project in response to a joint bid by Prof. Welch and Prof. B. Walker, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, Q.U.B., for a seven-year Joint Institutional Fellowship. The appointed person (Dr. McCartney) vacated a University-funded research post in 19th-century Irish fiction to assume duties on the History of the Irish Book, while the University’s funds were redeployed to finance two one-year research posts in book history. Dr. McCartney is a Joint Fellow of U.U. and Q.U.B. and is returned .5 under English and .5 under European Studies at Q.U.B. Two further colloquia were convened: one in October 1997 to consider draft proposals to Oxford University Press; the second in August 1999 to consider in detail issues of coverage, depth, and editorial responsibility. In October 1999 the delegates of OUP met and formally agreed contractual arrangements for a five-volume History of the Irish Book (2004-05), R. Welch and Prof. B. Walker to act as joint General Editors, with an editorial team of twelve and an international advisory board of some twenty scholars drawn from the universities of Oxford, London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Aberystwyth, Napier, Loughborough, and Reading in the U.K.; Dublin, T.C.D., Cork, St. Patrick’s (Maynooth and Drumcondra) in the Republic; Emory, Boston College, St. Michael’s Vermont, Kentucky State in the U.S.; Umea (Sweden) and Sassari (Italy) in Europe. The enterprise is, by its nature, collaborative, international, and interdisciplinary. The first Editorial meeting was convened in Dublin in December 1999 which outlined the timetable and laid down ground-rules and guidelines for Editors and contributors to the five volumes. In the meantime both UU and QUB have underscored their support for this project by designating a three-year Research Fellowship each to the undertaking: the appointees are Dr. Frank Sewell (UU) and Dr. Gillian McIntosh (QUB). One of the Editors of Vol. 5, Dr. Clare Hutton, is an AHRB Postdoctoral Fellow, based at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London’s Institute of English Studies, where she is working under the guidance of one of the project's advisers, Professor Warwick Gould.
Other Activities in Irish Literary Studies Books
The output of books in Irish Literary Studies, whether single-authored or edited volumes, accounts for almost half of all books produced in this exercise, a significant improvement in this research grouping within English. The same may be said of essays and articles, where half the research output lies within Irish literary studies.
Since 1996, Dr. Lazenbatt has edited and contributed to 3 issues of this annual journal and won funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Since taking it over, Dr Lazenbatt has retained its distinctive local and national character, but has developed it into a publication with strong American and international connections and contributions, as well as providing an outlet for creative writing by established and new authors. The journal has also encouraged valuable research activity and contributions from postgraduates and staff. For its special number on the Irish writer, Francis Stuart, the editor was able to make extensive use of the Stuart holdings in the University library.
Ulster Editions and Monographs
Colin Smythe, recognized as a leading international publisher for Irish Literary Studies in English, joined together with the unit to create a series devoted to scholarly monographs and editions, with Prof. McMinn and Prof. Welch acting as General Editors. This series has reached volume 10 with Jan Jedrzejewski’s edition of Le Fanu’s The Cock and the Anchor (due out 2000, but delayed until early 2001). Further volumes which are contracted include: A. McCartney and Heidi Hansson’s volume on nineteenth century Irish women’s prose; H. Mikami’s study of Frank McGuinness (a UU Ph.D. thesis); E. Kennedy-Andrews’s edited volumes on Mahon (in press) and Muldoon; and Sewell’s volume (edited with James Doan of Nova University, Florida) on the Gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh. All volumes are internally edited before being submitted to external readers and referees by the publisher.
Princess Grace Library/Eirdata
Dr. B. Stewart, Secretary of IASIL (International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures) has acted, since 1995, as Literary Adviser to the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, where he has overseen the re-organization of the Library and acted as Organizer for its international literature conferences which take place each autumn and spring. With the assistance and funding of the Library’s Trustees a research post has been established at Coleraine to process and update data originally compiled while Dr. Stewart acted as Assistant Editor to the Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, 1989-96. The outcome of this research was the launch in October 2000 of Eirdata , an electronic research facility in Irish Studies: the launch took place in Monaco, where the guest of honour was Dr. Mary McAleese, President of Ireland. This development represents the fulfilment of an objective set in the 1996 RAE: the dissemination, refinement, and re-focusing of the electronic research data compiled for the Companion.
Twentieth Century British and Irish Literature
Since 1994 there has been a British Council-sponsored research exchange between Lódz University, Poland, and UU. By March 2001, eight members of academic staff from each institution have taken part in these exchanges (as well as five postgraduate students overall), which involve public lectures, research seminars, and in some cases, such as the visit by Sewell, a chance to develop a personal research project (in his case comparative studies of contemporary Irish and Polish Poetry). A further, practical outcome of this scheme has been the appointment of seven of our doctoral graduates as temporary full-time lecturers in Lódz. A special issue of the Polish journal, Acta Universitatis Lodziensis: Folia Litteraria, has been dedicated to the outcomes of these exchanges and seminars. This effective international link will be extended further, with plans to cooperate with the English department at Gdansk in the provision of an MA in Irish Studies, supported by the British Council. In March 2001 the Council and UU agreed jointly to sponsor 4 scholarships for research students of Irish and English literature tenable annually at UU during the summer months.
Irish Women’s Writing
Dr McCartney and Dr H Hansson of the University of Umea (1999-2000 Swedish government Research Fellow at UU) are co-authoring Out of Context: Irish Women’s Prose in the Nineteenth Century, to be published by Colin Smythe in 2002. They have also organised Other Voices - Other Words at Coleraine, a series of Arts-Council-funded seminars on contemporary Irish women writers. Speakers have included literary critics and such creative writers as Medbh McGuckian, Mary O’Malley and Éilis Ní Dhuibhne. The publication of a series of working papers is in train.
The Ulster Symposium
Begun in 1992, the Ulster Symposium takes place every two years and is devoted to modern and contemporary Northern Irish poetry. The proceedings are published by Colin Smythe in the Ulster Editions and Monographs Series, and the symposium is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Community Relations Council, and the University. The 1994 session was on Louis MacNeice, 1996 on Michael Longley, 1998 on Derek Mahon, and 2000 on Paul Muldoon. Until 1996 the Symposium was run by Kathleen Devine and Alan Peacock (neither included in this return), since when it has been taken over by Dr. Kennedy-Andrews. The symposium has become a forum for some of the leading critics of Irish literature, including Neil Corcoran, Douglas Dunn, Terence Brown and Alan Heusser.
Other Work in Irish Literary Studies
Along with the material cited in RA2, the following reflects ongoing work in Irish Literary Studies. Dr. Kennedy-Andrews’s edited volumes on Modern Irish Fiction and The Poetry of Derek Mahon (in press) will both be published in 2001 and his volume on Paul Muldoon in 2002, all by Colin Smythe. Kennedy-Andrews’s monograph on Writing in the North: Fiction and the Troubles in Northern Ireland will be published by Four Courts Press, Dublin, in 2002. Dr. K. McCracken’s monograph, Radical Vision: A Critical Study of the Poetry of Paul Durcan will be published by Bloodaxe in 2002. R. Welch’s edition of The Plays and Poems of J.M. Synge will be published by Penguin in 2002, as will his 'The Book in Ireland from the Tudor Reconquest to the Battle of the Boyne' in Vol. 4 of The History of the Book in Britain (Cambridge). Dr. Stewart’s monograph on Joyce will be published by Cassell in 2001. Dr Sewell, a research officer, is returned with three items; his fourth, Modern Irish Poetry: A New Alhambra (O.U.P. 2000, 248pp., ISBN 0-19-818737-8) was due to be published in December 2000, the date which appears on the title-page, but a minor printing problem with the jacket delayed issue until early January. The book is, of course, available for inspection.
In the broad field of English and American Studies, editorial and critical work is carried out in all periods of post-medieval literature, including work on aspects of twentieth- century literary theory. Sixteen books, authored or co-edited, have been contributed to the current RAE, and the following are projects currently being undertaken, all commissioned for publication over the next five years: Prof. Bradford and Dr. Jedrzejewski are General Editors of The Complete Critical Guide to English Literature (Routledge), involving detailed studies of all canonical authors from Chaucer to the present day. The volumes are uniquely comprised of three parts: a biography of the writer, a survey of the complete works, and a comprehensive account of critical responses and controversies. The first batch of these will be published in Spring 2001, including Bradford’s Complete Critical Guide to Milton along with Guides to Beckett, Pope, Chaucer and Lawrence by academics from other universities. Bradford is also editor of Ashgate’s series on ‘Early Modern British Writing’ (Renaissance to 1800), of which McVeagh’s monograph on Durfey (cited in RA2) is an early example. Bradford is contracted to write a biography of Milton for this series. Bradford’s biography, Lucky Him: The Life of Kingsley Amis, will be published by Peter Owen in Spring 2001; extracts from this have appeared in The Daily Mail (Nov. 2000). Dr. McVeagh’s edition, with annotations, of Defoe’s Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (3 Vols), will be published by Pickering & Chatto in 2001. He will also be undertaking the first ever annotated edition of Defoe’s Review (1704-13) for the same publisher. This will be in 18 parts, the first two of which are scheduled for publication in 2002 with two thereafter until completion in 2011. Dr. Davies is contributing to a comprehensive website called ‘English Fiction and Prose 1890-1945’ (Ch. 308) for the Annotated Bibliography of English Studies (Swets and Zeitlinger). In 2002 two pieces by Davies on ecocriticism will be published: ‘Esoteric Dimensions of Deep Ecology’ (Sacred Web, ed. by M. Lai Lakhani, 2001); ‘Reading Subjectivity according to the Biophilia Hypothesis’ (The Environmental Tradition in English Literature, ed. by John Parham, Ashgate, 2001). Dr. Thacker’s 12,000 word entry on Foucault for the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Gale Research Press), and his chapter called ‘Journey with Maps: Travelling Theory, Geography and the Syntax of Space’, for European Travel Writing in the 1930s (eds. Burdett and Duncan, Berghahn publishers), will both appear in 2001. He is currently writing Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernist Writing, under contract with Manchester U.P., to be published in 2001/2. Also, his Macmillan New Casebook volume on Joyce’s Dubliners is due for publication in 2002/3. Prof. York’s Fiction and History in the American Novel is due for publication with Associated U.P. in 2002. Dr. Jedrzejewski’s edition of Le Fanu's The Cock and the Anchor has appeared (2001) in the Ulster Editions and Monograph Series; and the Complete Critical Guide to George Eliot , for the Routledge series of which he is co-editor with Bradford, is due in 2003. He is also preparing Polish editions of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Robinson Crusoe for Biblioteka Norodowa, due for 2001 and 2003 respectively.
Out of the 16 members of the unit, 10 have written, or have contracted to write, entries for ongoing reference works, in particular the New DNB, the Dictionary of Irish Biography for the Royal Irish Academy, and The Literary Dictionary (Internet Resource).
The unit has amongst its members 2 poets and 1 novelist/poet. All have had significant recognition. Frank Sewell’s translations of the Donegal Gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh were short-listed for the EU Ariston translation prize in 1999; Robert Welch’s novel, Groundwork, was a New York Times Book Review book of the year; Kathleen McCracken, the Canadian-Irish poet, will publish a new collection in 2001, and Prof. Welch’s new novel, The Kings Are Out, will be issued in 2001. Writing Ulster provides an outlet for creative writers, as do the seminars on women’s writing at Coleraine.
Staff recruitment Since 1994, 5 staff have joined the unit (Drs. Thacker, Stewart, McCartney, Hancock and Sewell) all of whom are research-active. Stewart was appointed to a specially-created permanent Research Lectureship in Irish Literature; McCartney vacated a 3-year research post to assume a British Academy/AHRB 7-year Fellowship in the History of the Irish Book; Sewell began a 3-year research post in autumn 1999, again in the History of the Irish Book. Both McCartney and Sewell will be Co-Editors of volumes in the 5-volume Oxford publication, and both are Ph.Ds. of the unit, with the published versions of their doctorates either part of the return (McCartney) or available for scrutiny (Sewell). Staffing policy, therefore, has been to mix permanent replacements with strategically-oriented research posts geared to specific tasks, priorities, and responsibilities, and to the research strengths of the unit. Of the three permanent posts filled since 1994, Stewart’s appointment was to the field of Irish literature with specific reference to electronic applications, the successful outcome of which was the EirData archive. The co-ordinator, in close collaboration with Bradford and McMinn, oversees mentoring and research support for new appointments. In every case they have directed younger colleagues to publishing outlets and ensured that teaching relief was made available when needed.
English at UU has the benefit of 4 Visiting Professors who bring experience and distinction to the unit. They each spend about 10 working days a year on the two campuses during which time they give seminars to staff and students, act as consultants and advisers to all staff, and provide inputs into publishing and research undertakings. They are: Colin Smythe, perhaps the leading academic publisher in Irish literary studies; Dr. John Pitcher, Fellow and Senior Tutor of St. John’s College, Oxford, leading Editor of Renaissance texts, Editor of the Oxford Samuel Daniel, Shakespearean and book historian; Anthony Cronin, man of letters, journalist, poet, novelist, and biographer of Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien, and Brendan Behan; and Loreto Todd, a specialist in the varieties of English, including Ulster-Scots, Hiberno-English, and Creoles. All four are Advisers to the History of the Irish Book; Anthony Cronin and Colin Smythe are patrons of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages.