The real-world impact of the research carried out by English staff members is captured in a range of exciting projects aimed at changing the way that members of the public think about the role and function of literature in the contemporary world.
Garrett has spent many years walking Ireland’s border and just as much time trying to make sense of its meanings in a range of media, including innovative maps, a radio documentary and a book, The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border (Faber), shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award.His work has helped to change the way that people think about the Irish border – the UK-Irish border and soon to be the UK-EU border – both in Ireland and the UK and across the world. His work has travelled far and wide, giving rich and fascinating insight into the border region, as well as giving voice to those who live in its vicinity. Garrett’s maps of the border have been the subject of a series of unique exhibitions and as such his research has challenged conventional notions of place and mapping, enabling many people think differently about the art of map-making.
Marilina’s collaborative project ‘Before and After Halley: Medieval Visions of Modern Science’, involving astrophysicist Dr Pedro Lacerda, renegotiates the meaning and importance of medieval science and demonstrates how medieval records of comets can help test the theory of the existence of the elusive Planet 9. This ground-breaking project, for the first time, looks at celestial occurrences, as they appear in English, Irish, Western European and Russian Chronicles from the 9th to the 12th centuries from a fresh perspective, by relying on up-to-date scientific tools in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of astronomy and scientific thought in early medieval Europe. This project is also motivated by a strong scientific goal: to test the theory that our solar system includes an additional, undiscovered planet. In the past year or two, analysis of orbits of small bodies in the outer solar system has led to speculation that a distant planet, twice the mass of Neptune and twenty times more distant, may await discovery.
This is one aspect of a larger collaborative network project called ‘Crossing Frontiers’ which uses a participatory research and public engagement approach to inspire high-impact cross-disciplinary projects crossing between Medieval Studies and Sciences and also providing support and mentoring to early career scholars and PhD students interested in this kind of research. The aim of this international Research Network is to inspire high-impact cross-disciplinary projects between Medieval Studies and the Sciences and to advance knowledge exchange and cultural networks. Both projects have been made possible by funding from the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Alison, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in English and Faculty post-doctoral ‘Researcher of the Year’ (2020), has worked with BBC NI’s Jason Martin to put together a series of short programmes on four novels exploring the dangerous thrill of illicit love during the NI Troubles. Joan Lingard’s Across the Barricades (1972), Jennifer Johnston’s Shadows on Our Skin (1977) and Glenn Patterson’s The International (1999) use footage from the BBC archives. The images for the programme on Eugene McCabe’s novel, Death and Nightingales (1992), are taken from the archival holdings of the National Library of Ireland and the British Library.
Leon's research on the letters and photographs of Charles Dickens has had a considerable impact on public perceptions and knowledge in the UK and beyond. Media coverage of his research has featured in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, and other publications. His radio and television work for the BBC, RTE (Ireland), CBC (Canada), and ABC (Australia) has reached millions of people. His recent short film for The One Show on Dickens and Queen Victoria was broadcast to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Dickens's death. Leon has recently curated "Technicolor Dickens: The Living Image of Charles Dickens": a key exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum in London, about Dickens's physical presence and celebrity status. His Charles Dickens Letters Project, an online archive of Dickens’s correspondence, has been used by people in 112 different countries. As a world authority on Dickens's manuscripts and photographic portraits, his work has had beneficial impact on curatorial, archival and auction house practice.
Michael’s work has made a major contribution to debates on the representation of marginalised communities across the island of Ireland. He was an integral part of the UK-wide AHRC-funded Creative Interruptions (AHRC) project which in Northern Ireland traced the positive benefits of participating in drama performances for people from marginalised communities in Belfast and elsewhere. The various drama workshops resulted in the world premiere of a specially commissioned play staged by and for participants from these marginalised communities. As such, the project reached tens of thousands of people both through these performances as well as broadcast coverage and additional outreach work involving schools and community groups. In doing so the project has successfully challenged audiences and participants to reconsider the many-faceted fight for equality in Northern Ireland.
World Premiere, Abbey Theatre, spring 2020. A brand new ensemble comedy by Michael West and The Corn Exchange and an inspired follow-up to Michael’s critically acclaimed Dublin By Lamplight, The Fall of the Second Republic presents an alternative vision of the Irish political landscape in the 1970s. When an ambitious young journalist plots to bring down a corrupt politician, she ends up toppling more than just the government.
Taking its cue from Watergate, the action is set in 1973 where a corrupt and compromised Taoiseach manages to leverage the growing threat of civil war into a grand coalition with his political party's traditional enemy. A fearless and reckless young journalist is determined to bring him down, but collapses her own world about her in the process. A riotous ensemble comedy it presented a Grand Coalition and a national lockdown before both of these came to pass.