The inaugural conference of the Villanova University Center for Irish Studies will take place on Saturday 15 October at Villanova University.
“Who’s/Whose Irish?: Philadelphia Stories from Penn to the Present” will be an interdisciplinary conference to explore new directions in scholarship on the Irish in the greater Philadelphia area. It will examine the state of the field and highlight new directions that scholarship is now moving.
The conference is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. The only event that does not require pre-registration is the plenary address, which begins at 4:30 p.m. in Driscoll Auditorium on Villanova’s main campus. Professor Kevin Kenny of Boston College will deliver the Plenary talk, “Three Philadelphia Stories” and comment on the presentations of the day.
Presentations by leading scholars will explore themes such as Irish immigration to the city and beyond by reconstructing the lives of servant girls, sea captains, lawyers, and railroad laborers; by examining the relief efforts of charitable organizations; and by reflecting on the scholarly contributions of the late Dennis Clark. Additional papers will address the commemorations and memory of Irish participation in U.S. Civil War, Abbey Theatre performances in Philadelphia, and Irish celebrity in the twentieth century.
The conference serves as the official launch, and represents the first step in meeting the aims and objectives of, the new Center for Irish Studies. A transformational gift from the Connelly Foundation has given Villanova University the opportunity to develop a world-class Center that will bridge disciplines, nations and history. Building upon the existing Irish Studies Program’s interdisciplinary focus, the Center will bring together local Irish groups, Villanova faculty, and visiting scholars in classrooms, lecture series, publications and public events to share knowledge and stimulate new ideas. The Center will position Villanova as an academic leader in the field and will expand the university’s capacity for service and outreach to the global Irish community.
While the new Center will strive to make these broader impacts, Irish Studies at Villanova will also remain committed to Philadelphia’s Irish community. This inaugural conference reflects Villanova University’s goal of serving as the premier academic resource for the exchange of ideas and information about the Irish diaspora in Philadelphia, and thereby making a signal contribution to the Delaware Valley’s cultural landscape.