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Dr McConnell’s monograph, Northern Irish Poetry and Theology, examines how theology shapes the status and constitution of subjectivity, language, and poetic form in the work of Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Derek Mahon. She has published articles on Northern Irish poetry after the peace process, and on Heaney’s manuscript drafts.

McConnell also publishes poetry. She is interested in the politics of aesthetic form, and in the relationship between violence, artistic practice and literary reception.

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Open to PhD applications in the field of 

  • Contemporary Poetry
  • Modern Irish and British poetry
  • Poetics
  • She supervises students undertaking both critical and creative projects in poetry
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  • Dr McConnell was Principal Investigator for 'Listening to Voices: Creative Disruptions with the Hearing Voices 
    Network' funded by the AHRC under the Connected Communities Programme.
  • She won the Ink, Sweat and Tears Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2017 and her work has been funded by the
    Arts Council Northern Ireland
  • Beyond the academy, she has given and hosted talks at Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Mountains to Sea/
    Poetry Now, Happy Days International Beckett Festival, Dublin Writers Festival, Aspects Festival, and on the
    Seamus Heaney: Five Fables TV series and app.
  • She co-edits The Irish Review.
  • She has read poetry at Just For One Day – marking the twentieth anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday)
    Agreement; Belfast Pride, Carafest; and at the Universities of York and Reading.


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

School Of Arts, English And Languages

Seamus Heaney Centre


Research students

PhD title: Labour in the poetry of W.B. Yeats

Name: Patrick Macfarlane
Years of Study: 2016 - 2019
Country: United Kingdom

PhD title: The Northern Irish Poetry of the 1960s and 1970s and the Politics of Reception

Name: Tara McEvoy
Years of Study: 2015 - 2019
Country: United Kingdom


Alumni: where are they now?

Dr Stephen Sexton

PhD title: If All the World and Love Were Young and “A Body That is Made into A Sign”: Elegy, Translation and Ekphrasis in Anne Carson’s Nox.

Years of Study: 2012 - 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Current position: Teaching Assistant at Queen’s University, Belfast

"Since completing my PhD, I have contributed to a BBC Radio Four documentary charting a 32-county tour of Ireland with Bill Drummond: Driving Bill Drummond. I have contributed to the closing event for Dublin-based art-writing publication Response to a Request. I have performed my work at Ledbury Poetry Festival, Los Gatos Irish Writers’ Festival, and Litquake, San Francisco. New work has been published in Winter Papers and Southword. I was the winner of the 2017 National Poetry Competition, and the featured poet in Poetry Ireland Review."

Dr Alice Lyons

PhD title: 'The Breadbasket of Europe: new poems and moving images; Perpetual Speech: Hollis Frampton's Gloria! as Lyric Poem’.

Years of Study: 2010 - 2014
Country: Ireland
Writing Activities: 

  • Edited chapter of PhD critical thesis published by Poetry, Chicago, March 2016
  • Curator, Poetry Now, Dun Laoghaire, 2014-2017
  • Radcliffe Fellowship in Poetry & New Media, Harvard 2015/16
  • The Breadbasket of Europe, Veer Books, London, 2016
  • Amphitheatre for Introverts (and others), Public Art Commission, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, 2018

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