I’m a lazy blogger. In fact, I’m averaging about one blog post a year. This year’s post is sort of a year in review – coming at the end of the academic year, rather than at the end of the calendar year, which is how I have come to experience time.
I was absent at the beginning of AY 2015-16. Megan, Liam, Catherine and I were in Ireland where I undertook research as the 2015 Neenan Visiting Research Fellow with Boston College-Ireland. We took a place in Dun Laoighaire, enjoyed the seaside, ate our weight in biscuits, fish, and Cadbury, and traveled to different centers of my research.
I spent most of our two months in Dublin at the National Archives, digging into property compensation claims for victims of malicious damage during the Irish Civil War. This research informed a large portion of my current book project, which will examine the environmental impact of the Irish Revolution. I was also able to escape to Connemara to examine how certain environments inhibited or enabled guerrilla mobility during the revolutionary period. Liam joined me and had no trouble ascending Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park (though I did carry him down).
In early September I organized and hosted a symposium on my research, to which several guests also contributed. It was graciously hosted by Boston College-Ireland, whose beautiful facilities overlook St. Stephen’s Green.
It was a busy fall term. I jumped straight back into lecturing after our return, having been temporarily relieved (saved) from teaching by my graduate assistant, Ms. Amanda Poitevin. The autumn also brought opportunities for public impact. In November I participated in a student-faculty engagement event organized by my PhD student, Kelly Ricken, entitled “Mobilizing the Academic Front.” I spoke on the history of trauma and how it evolved within military medical circles. I also had the opportunity to speak to both the Idaho Falls Friends for Learning senior group, and the Pocatello New Knowledge Adventures group about the Easter Rising and its impending 2016 centenary. Both groups have been wonderful hosts over the past few years. Finally, I presented highlights of my recently completed research fellowship to the Dean’s Advisory Council – a very enthusiastic and friendly group!
The fall semester ended in a typically chaotic fashion. Meg organized a “Cheers & Beers” celebration which, conveniently, fell on my birthday and the last day of the semester. It is becoming a wonderful tradition! We spent Christmas in Idaho then flew to Detroit to spend time with extended family. Meg’s parents treated us to a wonderful tour of the Shinola bicycle and watch factory, and we each received a watch that will stay in the family for generations.
A new year brought a new look. I embraced my genes (and the balding pattern they dictate) and shaved my head. My colleague Katy Kole says it completes my “Euro prof” look.
B&W: When students miss deadlines.
Color: When students meet deadlines.
I traveled to Atlanta shortly after the start of the new year to attend the American Historical Association annual conference. I was greeted with chicken-fried chicken and balmy weather, and presented some new research on the migration of Irish nationalist ideology throughout post-First World War Europe.
The spring term started the following Monday. In all honesty, I had been planning spring 2016 for some time; aligning the publication of a lot of my recent research, creating course plans to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, and directing both toward public engagement. Melissa Lee from the College of Arts & Letters did a great write up on my efforts for the College Newsletter.
In January, the first of my contributions was published through Century Ireland, an online newspaper and social media project tracing the course of the Irish revolutionary decade throughout its centenary. My contribution, “The Destruction of Dublin,” examined the physical and environmental impact of the Easter Rising. It’s since been widely read, was featured on Ireland’s RTE news website and republished as a full-page article in the Sunday Business Post.
In early February I spoke to the College of Arts & Letters Humanities Cafe on Irish identity. It was a great talk, with wonderful support from friends, students, colleagues and the community. Best of all, the Humanities Cafe is hosted by the Portneuf Valley Brewery – enough said.
In early March I returned to Columbia University, where I had served part of a research fellowship in 2012, to present an invited paper to the Columbia Irish Studies Seminar. This had been in the works for some time, and contributed to their “alternative” 1916 program. As always, Columbia treated me very well! Terry Byrne, Mary McGlynn, and Arden Hegele were gracious hosts. Best of all, I made a new friend: Mindi McMann from the College of New Jersey.
My second contribution to the 1916 centenary was published around this time. “La Bretagne et l’Insurrection de Pâques 1916” featured in En Envor, a French review of contemporary Breton history. As a whole, the spring semester allowed me to explore and observe the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. This was done in print, at conferences, and in the class room. I taught HIST 4445: Modern Ireland in the spring …
… which, in addition to lecturing and discussion included demonstrations on Irish sports such as hurling.
I treated my students to a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast (and lecture) before spring break. Many had never had the Americanized delight which is corned beef and cabbage. It was a fun, informal break from the norm! My deep thanks go to Kathy Bloodgood for helping prepare the meal (i.e., doing 98% of the work).
In late March I traveled to the University of Notre Dame to deliver two papers at the American Conference for Irish Studies annual meeting. It was a wonderful week of scholarship, reunion with old friends and colleagues, and exploration. Best of all, mom came along and was a huge hit! She had lots of great questions for the panels and everyone is looking forward to her being a fixture at future conferences.
While I was away, my students hosted their own temporary “pop-up” museum on the Rising. Each student was guided toward the creation of an exhibit that explored the rebellion thematically. It opened to the public on Easter Monday!
Coinciding with the Easter Rising centenary week, students’ museum exhibits, and the conference papers I delivered at Notre Dame, was a third publication. “The Afterlife of Roger Casement’s Irish Brigade, 1916-1922” grew out of a presentation I delivered in Kerry in 2013.
Other portions of my work are set to see light this year, including two chapters in separate collected volumes. The first,”Families, Vulnerability and Sexual Violence during the Irish Revolution,” is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan in a collection entitled, Perceptions of Pregnancy from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, edited by Jennifer Evans and Ciara Meehan. The second, “Violence, Trauma, and Memory in Ireland: the Psychological Impact of War and Revolution on a Liminal Society, 1916-1923,” will also be published with Palgrave Macmillan in Psychological Trauma and the Legacies of the First World War, edited by Peter Leese and Jason Crouthamel. Finally, I contributed a small piece on hunger strikes during the Irish War of Independence to the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, edited by John Crowley, Donal O Drisceoil, Mike Murphy, and John Borgonovo. The publisher, Cork University Press, is offering a special pre-order discount on this 700+ page book. Act now!
April was also a busy month! Some sunny days allowed me to work in our yard – particularly on our soon-to-be-finished vegetable garden.
Liam Patrick Dolan Stover turned six! His current obsession with sharks was honored by Meg, who baked (constructed) an amazing cake! We grilled burgers for all our friends and danced in the rain, as Stovers are known to do!
April also brought the fourth installment of the Holocaust Memorial Project, which I have organized over the past years. This year, my student interns and I invited several local and regional educators from various levels to share their methods of teaching the Holocaust. My friend and colleague Matt Levay gave a stellar talk about objects, possession, and memory in Holocaust literature, creating a truly interdisciplinary event.
In late April I was identified by honors graduate Hope Gibson as her “Most Influential Professor.” We attended a lovely awards ceremony in the Stephens Performing Arts Center, where I was presented with a beautiful picture frame. Inserting a copy of the photo below will complete the gift!
Final exams were held during the first week of May, followed promptly by graduation. It was wonderful to see some of my students conferred – particularly those whom I’ve taught in several classes!
Earlier this morning I submitted my final grades for spring 2016, formally ending Academic Year 2015-16 (though I am teaching summer classes). I set out to achieve a lot this AY: to impact students and our community, to deliver classes at a high standard, to be a leader in my field, and to continue to work toward my lofty professional goals. As always, I’m driven by the love and support I receive from Megan, and by the humor and innocence of Liam and Catherine. Here’s to another great year! Cheers!