Emily C. Riley Director of Irish Studies

Joseph Lennon

Joseph Lennon, PhD

Joseph Lennon, PhD, is the Emily C. Riley Director of the Center for Irish Studies and Associate Dean of International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Villanova University. He received his BA at Knox College, an MA in English at Northern Illinois University and an MA in Irish Studies at Boston College, before receiving his PhD in Irish and world literature in 2000. He taught at Manhattan College for nine years before coming to Villanova to serve as the Director of Irish Studies and an Associate Professor in the English Department.

Dr. Lennon’s book, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse UP, 2004), examines mutual imaginings between Ireland and former Asian colonies of the United Kingdom and won the Donald Murphy Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies. He publishes on literature and cultural history in journals such as New Hibernia Review, Women’s Studies, The European Legacy, Irish University Review and The Times Literary Supplement, as well as chapters in books on British, Irish, and Indian literature and culture. Irish publisher, Salmon Poetry published his volume Fell Hunger in 2011, and he has published poems in journals such as The Denver Quarterly, Natural Bridge, Midwest Quarterly, and Poetry Ireland.  His current book project focuses on the beginnings of the modern hunger strike in the early twentieth century in England, Ireland and India.

His research examines the influence of colonialism in Ireland, Britain and India, tracing the evolution of cultural formations throughout the British Empire. Literature is his primary focus, particularly the authors of Irish Literary Revival, including W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, August Gregory, James Stephens and James and Margaret Cousins. But as Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History demonstrates, his research stretches from medieval origin legends to modern practices.

Dr. Lennon’s current research project investigates the origins of the ideas and practices of fasting and the hunger strike in Ireland, Britain and India. Following his discovery the diaries and letters of the first modern hunger striker—Scottish artist and suffragette Marion Wallace-Dunlop—the project focuses on the events surrounding her strike in London's Holloway Prison in July of 1909. The project also explores nineteenth and early twentieth century understandings of hunger, famine, fasting, which led to the birth of the hunger strike. It examines texts—plays, novels, newspapers, histories, academic texts—to situate the first modern hunger strike within this history and within the intellectual moment of 1909, considering relations between hunger, desire and gender in modern consumer culture.

About the Emily C. Riley Directorship

In 2016, the University’s renowned Irish Studies program was elevated to a Center for Irish Studies, thanks to a gift from the Connelly Foundation. In recognition of the Connelly Foundation’s generosity, the Center’s directorship is named for Emily C. Riley, executive vice president for the Connelly Foundation and a former member of the Villanova University Board of Trustees.

The Connelly Foundation seeks to foster learning and to improve the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia area.  The Foundation supports local non-profit organizations in the fields of education, health and human services, arts and culture and civic enterprise. Recognizing that the Foundation's past investments in education have yielded some of its most rewarding results, learning has become the cornerstone of its mission and a uniting umbrella covering all of its philanthropic interests. The Foundation also endeavors to improve the quality of life in the Philadelphia area by promoting a culture of opportunity and civility.