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Burns Visiting Scholars


Current Visiting Scholar


Since 1991, the Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program has brought to Boston College a long and distinguished series of academics, writers, artists, journalists, librarians, and notable public figures who have made significant contributions to Irish cultural and intellectual life. Burns Visiting Scholars teach courses, offer public lectures, and engage with the rich resources of the John J. Burns Library in their ongoing research, writing, and creative endeavors.

The Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program is a cooperative venture between the Boston College Center for Irish Programs and the Boston College Libraries. It was established by and receives continuing support from the family and friends of the Honorable John J. Burns (Class of 1921), who also generously contributed to the creation of the John J. Burns Library and support the growth of its extraordinary collections pertaining to Irish history, literature, music, and culture. The Burns Visiting Scholar program has also benefited from support from the Office of the Provost.

In recognition of its 25th anniversary, Boston College Communications profiled the Burns Visiting Scholar program in a November 7, 2016 article.  In October 2016, Irish America magazine also published a special supplement in celebration of this milestone. One can read a web version online, or download the supplement as a high-resolution or low-resolution PDF.

PATRICK LONERGAN - Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies, Spring 2019

Patrick Lonergan photoPatrick Lonergan is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, and has written or edited eleven books on Irish drama. These include Theatre and Globalization (winner of the Theatre Book Prize UK in 2008), The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh (2012), and Theatre & Social Media (2015). A new history of Irish theatre since 1950 will be published in early 2019 by Bloomsbury. He is currently working on a book about Shakespeare and the Modern Irish Theatre.

Lonergan is a director of the Galway International Arts Festival and an editorial associate for Contemporary Theatre Review. He also sits on the editorial boards of Irish University Review and Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. For Methuen Drama, he is editor of the "Critical Companions" series, which has published new books on such dramatists as Friel, Murphy, Pinter, Beckett, Churchill, Hwang, and Ruhl, and on topics including disability theatre, prison theatre, and the British and American stage musical.

At NUI Galway, Lonergan is academic leader of the digitisation of the archives of the Abbey and Gate theatres, a project to create the world's largest multi-media digital theatre archive. He has lectured on Irish literature at many venues internationally, including, most recently, Princeton, Florence, Florianapolis (Brazil), Wroclaw, and Tokyo. In 2018, he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy.


Spring Course:

Theater and Globalization
Tuesdays, 11:30am-1:55pm
Burns Library

The globalization of world theatre has created new opportunities for dramatists to have their work produced internationally. This class considers “Irishness” as a commodity in the world literary marketplace. It shows how Irish writers have turned to international influences to transform their country’s attitudes to issues like gender, multiculturalism, sexuality and secularism. We will read plays by Brian Friel, Marina Carr and Martin McDonagh and by exciting new voices. The focus of the course is on Irish drama, but it will also examine the relationship between globalization and theatre in other national literatures and other literary forms. No prior knowledge of Irish drama or globalization is required.


UPDATE: Rethinking the Archive: Research and Teaching in Literature and the Performing Arts
Saturday, April 6, 9:00am-2:00pm
Connolly House, Boston College

This conference will consist of a series of roundtable discussions involving scholars who are using archival material in new ways in their research. Our aim will be to provide participants with an understanding of the archive and our place in it. We will also highlight practical ideas for teaching and research. Those taking part in the discussion will include BC faculty and graduate students and Doug Reside (curator, New York Public Library) and Elizabeth Mannion (CUNY). A complete schedule is available here.

Click here for BC Events calendar listing. Limited parking available will be available at Connolly House. For additional parking information and maps, please refer to the University's Admissions site. 


Shakespeare and the Modern Irish Theatre — Staging Anglo-Irish relations from 1916 to Brexit
Wednesday, April 10, 4:30pm-6:00pm, reception to follow; all are welcome
Burns Library, Thompson Room

Since 2016, relations between Ireland and England have come under growing strain, with debates about Brexit placing renewed focus on each country’s attitude to national sovereignty. That debate has coincided with a significant increase in Irish productions of Shakespeare, many of which comment both directly and indirectly on contemporary political controversies. Far from being a new development, the exploration of Anglo-Irish relations through Shakespeare has been underway since at least 1916. This lecture tracks that history, showing its impact on great Irish writers from Joyce to Heaney — and on great actors like Orson Welles, Fiona Shaw, and many others. 

Click here for BC Events calendar listing. For general directions and parking information, please refer to the University's Admissions site. We recommend parking in the Commonwealth Garage.

Following the reception, we encourage to attendees to hear Alvin Jackson speak at 7:00pm on "The Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2017: Bloodshed, Borders, and Brexit," a lecture in the Lowell Humanities Series, which will be held in Gasson Hall, Room 100. Jackson is Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh.


Follow the link below to read about each of the more than thirty Burns Visiting Scholars whom we have welcomed to campus since the program began in 1991. For several of our more recent scholars, you will find links to streaming recordings of their public lectures.

Previous Burns Visiting Scholars


Guy Beiner, Ben Gurian University of the Negev, historian of memory 2019 Fall - 2020 Spring
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, novelist and creative writer 2020 Fall
Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast, twentieth-century historian 2021 Spring
Emilie Pine, University College Dublin literary scholar 2021 Fall
James Kelly, Dublin City University, eighteenth-century historian 2022 Spring
Paul Murray, novelist 2022 Fall