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Center for Irish Studies presents Oxford scholar

IrishStudies_IconGeorgia Southern University’s Center for Irish Studies presents Where Scotland Met Ireland: Ulster Poetry of the Romantic Period, a lecture by Jennifer Orr, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford and University of Dublin, on Monday, September 9, at 7 p.m. on campus in the Carol A. Carter Recital Hall.

Orr’s lecture centers on Ulster-Scot poets and the historical events surrounding the group’s formation.

“In the early 1600s, Ireland’s northernmost province of Ulster lay ravaged by the Elizabethan Wars,” said Howard Keeley, Ph.D., director of the Center. “Mindful of an earlier model – called the Hamilton-Montgomery Settlement – King James I decided to settle Ulster lands confiscated from the Irish with British Protestants. This Plantation of Ulster constitutes one of the most significant ethnic, cultural, and religious intersections in world history. During the next century, descendants of the planters began a Great Migration to the eastern seaboard of North America, including Georgia, becoming a major presence in Appalachia.

“For many Ulster-Scots who remained in Ireland, the American and French Revolutions offered a new model for conceiving of nationhood, and thus was born, in 1791, the Society of the United Irishmen, dedicated to enfolding all residents of Ireland into a sovereign republic free of the British crown. But not everyone in Ireland supported the United Irish movement, which would spearhead an armed and extremely bloody rebellion over many months in 1798.

“In this dynamic environment, a group of County Antrim Ulster-Scots poets fostered links to United Irish leaders in their county’s principal city, Belfast. Determined to make the most of the radical buzz then affecting that industrial and mercantile port, the coterie championed a reinvigorated Irish culture based on the songs and poetry of ordinary people, such as linen weavers.  The group sought to highlight its own spoken tongue of Ulster-Scots, derived from the Scots dialect of their 17th Century settler forebears: the dialect we associate with Scotland’s most renowned poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Their ambition was to make Ulster famous, just as Burns had advanced the land, sounds, and identity of Scotland.”

“This lecture by a world-class scholar will prove compelling to anyone interested in Ireland or Scotland, in multiculturalism or ethno-political history, or in popular poetry or linguistics,” Keeley said.

Orr received her doctorate in English literature from the University of Glasgow and went on to teach poetry at Christ Church, one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. In addition to her Oxford appointment, Orr is currently completing a year as the Irish Research Council’s Fellow in English at the University of Dublin-Trinity College. Under contract to be published by Cambridge University Press, her IRC-funded project Ulster Romantic Belief and Practice considers poetry and other forms of intellectual activity in Ulster, the northernmost of Ireland’s four provinces, during the 1790-1820 phase of the Romantic period. Last year, the respected Irish publisher Four Courts Press released The Correspondence of Samuel Thomson (1766-1816), edited by Orr. Presently, Orr will take up a tenured professorship at Newcastle University, a research-intensive institution in the north of England.

The University lecture event is free and open to the public.

The Center for Irish Studies is housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. CLASS, the University’s College of the Creative Mind, prepares students to achieve academic excellence, develop their analytical skills, enhance their creativity, and embrace their responsibilities as citizens of their communities, their nations, and the world.

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