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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 Boston College's interdisciplinary Irish Studies program 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. Read the article or download a copy.

Burns Visiting Scholar lectures since 2017 have been videorecorded and add the to the Burns Library Lectures playlist on the Boston College Libraries YouTube channel.


Photo of Claire ConnollyClaire Connolly is Professor of Modern English at University College Cork. She is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. From 2019-2023 she was principal investigator for the ERDF-funded project, "Ports, Past and Present" ( She sits on the board of the Irish Research Council, is a member of the Editorial Board for Cambridge Studies in Romanticism and a member of the Royal Irish Academy Council.

Formerly a professor at Cardiff University, Connolly has been a visiting professor in Irish Studies at Boston College (2002-2003) and Concordia University, Montreal (Fall 2011). For 2018-2019 she was Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College Cambridge.

From 2015 to 2018, Connolly was co-principal investigator with Rob McAllen (University College Cork) of the interdisciplinary research project "Deep Maps: West Cork Coastal Cultures," supported by an Irish Research Council New Horizons Award. With Marjorie Howes (Boston College) she was Co-General Editor of the six-volume series Irish Literature in Transition, 1700-2020 (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Connolly has edited or co-edited nine other books and authored dozens of book chapters and articles. Her 2011 monograph, A Cultural History of the Irish Novel, 1790-1829, won the Donald J. Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Monograph, awarded by the American Conference for Irish Studies. Scholarly editions include two volumes in The Works of Maria Edgeworth (Pickering and Chatto, 1999-2003) and Sydney Owenson’s The Wild Irish Girl (Pickering and Chatto, 2000).

For more about Connolly and her public lecture on December 6, please see the feature article in the Boston College Chronicle

Since 2017, recordings of Burns Visiting Scholar lectures have been added to the Burns Library Lectures playlist on YouTube.



Fall 2023: Irish Romanticism
Tuesdays 2:00pm - 04:25pm
Stokes 207S
Enrollment limited to 16

Irish literature written in English in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century registers and responds to a still palpable history of unjust colonial land settlements, revolution and war, a rural society in transition, famine and displacement. This course tracks the work of key Irish writers (Lady Morgan, Maria Edgeworth, Thomas Moore, Gerald Griffin and James Clarence Mangan) who together developeda distinctively textured aesthetic that draws on the past in order to shape new literary futures. Topics to include population, political economy, gender, memory, landscape and empire.

Spring 2024: Irish Environmental Fictions
Wednesdays 2:00pm - 04:25pm
Stokes 207S
Enrollment limited to 16

A course that tracks Irish literary engagement with forms of environmental knowledge, beginning with contemporary fictions of climate crisis and tracking back to the beginnings of the Anthropocene in the eighteenth century. Authors to be studied include Mike McCormack, Paula Meehan, Sinad Morrisey, JM Synge, Jane Barlow, James Clarence Mangan, Lady Morgan and Maria Edgeworth; topics to include scale, periodisation, hunger, food security, energy and interdisciplinarity. The course will also explore the literary inscription of specific Irish environments including coast, shore, bog and mountain.

Public Lecture:

"Watery Romanticism: Crossing the Irish Sea with Keats"
Wednesday, December 6, 5:00pm reception, 6:00pm lecture; free and open to the public
Burns Library, Thompson Room

Click here to watch the recording (closed captioning provided)

What happens when we put literary concepts and periods to work between and across bodies of water? "Watery Romanticism" offers a new account of Irish culture in the late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century with a particular focus on the constitutive role of sea crossings. Seas and coasts were part of everyday Irish life in the romantic-era: authors, soldiers, landlords, migrant workers, students and members of parliament moved between our islands and across the empire along with books, letters, wine, food, weapons and cattle.

For the lecture, Connolly will examine one singular case, the crossing between Port Patrick and Donaghadee undertaken by a young John Keats in the summer of 1818 and his subsequent walk to and from Belfast in the months just before he wrote some of his best-known poems. She will draw on the blue, environmental and spatial humanities to analyze Keats’s Irish and Scottish letters and consider the limits imposed upon the creative imagination by the crowded, miserable landscapes of pre-Famine Ireland.

The evening will begin with a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception at 5:00pm in the Burns Library Irish Room. The lecture will follow at 6:00pm upstairs in the Thompson Room. All are welcome. Directions, parking, and accessibility information is available on the Burns Library website.

For more about Connolly and her upcoming talk, please see the feature article in the Boston College Chronicle


Patricia Palmer Fall 2024
Caoimhe Nic Dhaibheid Spring 2025
Paul Rouse Fall 2025
Eve Watson Spring 2026


Follow the link below to read about each of the more than forty 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