Dr. Rosie Lavan B.A. (Oxon), M.A. (London), M.St (Oxon), D.Phil (Oxon)Assistant Professor; Disability Liaison Officer
After reading English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, I trained as a journalist at City University, London. I subsequently worked on the business desk at The Times for two years, as a media assistant to a London MEP during the European elections in 2009, and for House of Lords Hansard. I returned to Oxford for postgraduate study in 2010 and completed my doctorate, on Seamus Heaney, in 2014. I held stipendiary lectureships in English at St Hugh’s and St Anne’s Colleges in 2014-15, teaching a range of courses on literature in English post-1830, before joining the School of English at TCD in September 2015.
My first monograph, Seamus Heaney and Society (Oxford University Press, 2020) resituates Seamus Heaney’s work in its varied textual, cultural, institutional, and political contexts, paying close attention to his early journalism and work for radio and television, and to his key institutional affiliations in publishing, broadcasting, and education, in Ireland, Britain, and the United States. My work on Heaney has now taken a new direction: I am providing research support to Bernard O’Donoghue, who is editing the poems of Seamus Heaney for Faber.
My current project examines how writers have represented and negotiated the agents, forces, and effects of the collective experience of life in the modern state, in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, from the late 1940s to the late 1990s. Surveying the period which encompasses Ireland’s full emergence as a Republic, the economic and cultural privations of the 1950s, the modernising drive of the 1960s, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the progress of the women’s movement, it is concerned with the composition of collective identities on the island, as they are variously claimed, challenged, or rejected by individual writers. Generational experience and the variant uses of retrospect and the recent past, in both official discourse and literary and cultural production, are central to my analysis. My core research interest in modern Irish poetry provides the motivation for this examination, and the poets Padraic Fallon, John Montague, Eavan Boland, and Seamus Heaney, and the influential publisher of modern Irish poetry, Liam Miller, are major figures in the discussion. Prompted by their engagement with these issues, I expand the argument to include writers and cultural figures whose work is similarly preoccupied with the dynamic between the personal and the collective in the context of the changing, modernising, and variously hampered states in this period, including Edna O’Brien, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Nell McCafferty, and Peter Lennon. For research towards this project, titled ‘Watching Ourselves at a Distance’, I have held visiting research fellowships at the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University in Georgia, and the Z. Smith Reynolds at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.
Beyond this work, I am preparing a project, provisionally titled ‘The Extension of Literature’ which adopts the methodologies I have developed in my research to date, using archival resources in Ireland and Britain to map important personal and institutional connections. My interest this time is in the work of literary editors, broadcasters, and publishers in promoting literature in mainstream culture.
In addition to literature, culture, and society in Ireland and Britain, my interests include the intersections between literature, politics, and the media; comparative approaches to literature and the visual arts, especially photography; life-writing; textual criticism; and poetic form. Recently I have supervised graduate work on contemporary poetry, photography, and the ethics of representation; genetic approaches to modern Irish poetry; and Irish women’s poetry. I welcome enquiries about research any of these topics, and on others related to my research areas.
I teach a range of courses in the School of English covering Irish literature and culture since 1900, including contributions to the Fresher modules ‘Irish Writing’ and ‘Contemporary Irish Writing’. I also co-ordinate the Junior Fresher module ‘Cultures of Retelling’. At Sophister level I teach modules on Heaney’s work, and on modern British writing and culture. In the Oscar Wilde Centre, I teach an optional module on modern Irish poetry.
With students following the ‘Heaney and his Contexts’ module in Hilary 2016 I co-curated the exhibition Death of a Naturalist at 50: Seamus Heaney in Print, 1966-2016, which was on display in the Old Library. The exhibition examined the publication histories and contexts of Heaney’s first collection on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary.
As a co-director of the production company Sidelong Glance I collaborate with Eleanor Lybeck, lecturer in English at the University of Oxford, to develop research-led performance projects. Our production Wild Laughter was performed at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin in November 2016, with the support of an award from the Provost’s Visual and Performing Arts Fund, and we have presented our work in a range of theatrical and academic contexts.
Recent and Forthcoming Publications
Seamus Heaney and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).
Chapters and Articles:
- ‘Heaney and Education’ in Geraldine Higgins ed., Seamus Heaney in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020): forthcoming.
- ‘Violence, Politics and Irish Poetry’, in Eve Patten ed., Irish Literature in Transition, vol. 5, 1940-1980 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), pp. 216-232.
- ‘‘Mycenae Lookout’ and the Example of Aeschylus’, in Stephen Harrison, Fiona Macintosh, and Helen Eastman eds., Seamus Heaney and the Classics: Bann Valley Muses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 50-68.
- ‘“Number weight & measure”: “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” and the Labor of Imagination’, International Yeats Studies 4:1 (2019).
- ‘Image, Text and Conflict: Approaching the Border in Willie Doherty’s Work’ in Nicola Gardini, Adriana Jacobs, Ben Morgan, Mohamed-Salah Omri and Matthew Reynolds eds., Minding Borders: Resilient Divisions in Literature, the Body and the Academy (Leeds: Legenda, 2018), pp. 97-114.
- ‘The World of Sense in In Parenthesis’ Jamie Callison, Paul Fiddes, Anna Johnson and Erik Tonning eds., David Jones: A Christian Modernist? (Leiden: Brill, 2018): pp. 92-106.
- ‘Active Images: Heaney and Derry’, Honest Ulsterman (Summer 2016).
- ‘Heaney and the Audience’, Essays in Criticism 66:1 (2016), pp. 54-70.
- ‘Screening Belfast: “Heaney in Limboland” and the Language of Belonging’, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, 21:2 (2015), pp. 301-16.
- ‘Explorations: Seamus Heaney and Education’, The Irish Review 49-50 (Winter-Spring 2015), pp.54 – 70.
- Review of Thomas Goldpaugh and Jamie Callison (eds). The Grail Mass and Other Works, by David Jones in Review of English Studies 71:299 (April 2020), pp. 407-409.?
- Review of Martina Evans, Now We Can Talk Openly about Men, and Maria McManus, Available Light, in Poetry Ireland Review 126 (2018), pp. 15-19.
- Review of Michael Longley, One Wide Expanse: Writings from the Ireland Chair of Poetry, Harry Clifton, Ireland and its Elsewheres: Writings from the Ireland Chair of Poetry, and Paula Meehan, Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them: Writings from the Ireland Chair of Poetry, Irish University Review 47 (Autumn/Winter 2017), pp. 587-90.
- Review of S. J. Perry, Chameleon Poet: R. S. Thomas and the Literary Tradition, and Rory Waterman, Belonging and Estrangement in the Poetry of Philip Larkin, R. S. Thomas and Charles Causley, Notes & Queries 64:1 (March 2017), pp. 195-7.
- Review of Paul Muldoon, ‘Whispers of T. S. Eliot’, the inaugural T. S. Eliot Lecture at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Time Present 91 (Spring 2017), p. 7.
- Review of Hearing Heaney: The Sixth Seamus Heaney Lectures, eds. Eugene McNulty & Ciarán Mac Murchaidh, Irish Literary Supplement 36:2 (Spring 2017), pp. 25-6.
- Review of Yeats and Modern Poetry, by Edna Longley, Irish Review 52 (Summer 2016), pp. 73-5.
- Review of Poetry, by David Constantine, Notes and Queries, 62:4 (2015), pp. 641-43.
- Review of The Poor Bugger's Tool: Irish Modernism, Queer Labor, and Postcolonial History, by Patrick R. Mullen, Notes & Queries, 62: 1 (2015), pp. 175-77.
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School of English