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Burns Library Past Events



Former events held at Burns Library


Boston Book Launch for Jane Jacobs’s First City: Learning from Scranton, Pennsylvania
A Conversation with author Glenna Lang

Thursday, December 1, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Burns Library

Jane Jacobs’s First City presents a heretofore missing piece of the puzzle of the renowned writer and social activist by reconstructing Jacobs’s formative years in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when the city was at its prime.

The conversation will be moderated by Richard Keeley, retired senior associate dean in Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. Keeley was instrumental in Burns Library’s acquisition of Jacobs’s papers.

Based on meticulous research and interviews of Jacobs’s family, friends, and fellow Scrantonians, Lang’s intimate and beautifully written portrait of Jacobs and her home city reveals for the first time the individuals, communities, and events that she encountered in her first eighteen years. Jacobs discovered what made for vibrant cities and economies as well as the values and principles that accompanied them. Towards the end of her life, Jacobs increasingly referred back to Scranton to illustrate the potential for cohesion and inclusiveness offered by contemporary mid-size cities.

Lang is the author of a previous work about Jane Jacobs—Genius of Common Sense: The Story of Jane Jacobs and “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” She has lived for many years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and teaches at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, now part of Tufts University. The event will begin at 7pm, and will be followed by a coffee/tea/dessert reception and book signing at 8pm. All are welcome. A sampling of materials from Jacobs’s papers will be on display. Additional materials are featured in an online exhibit.

Paddies in Space: Irish Studies in the 24th Century

Wednesday, November 16, 4:30pm - 7:00pm
Burns Library

watch recording here

For his inaugural lecture as the Sullivan Chair of Irish Studies at Boston College, Professor Guy Beiner – who specializes in remembering and forgetting in modern Irish history – will examine science fiction depictions of the Anglo-Irish conflict in popular culture to reveal how imagining the future draws on cultural traditions from the past, and what this may tell us about current preoccupation with the prospect of the re-unification of Ireland.

The program will begin with a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception beginning at 4:30pm in the Burns Library Irish Room, with the lecture to follow at approximately 5:30pm in the Thompson Room.

How to Write a Novel
Fall '22 Burns Visiting Scholar Paul Murray

Wednesday, November 9, 4:30pm to 7:00pm
Burns Library

watch recording here

Fall '22 Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies Paul Murray will read from his forthcoming novel, The Bee Sting, and talk about the highs and lows of the creative process.

Murray is the acclaimed author of three novels. An Evening of Long Goodbyes (2003) was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Irish Book Award. The bestselling Skippy Dies (2010) was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for various other awards including the Costa Book Awards in the UK, and in the US, the National Book Critics' Circle Award. It was one of Time magazine's Best Books of 2010. Writing for the New York Times, Marlon James called Skippy Dies “one of the few true masterpieces of this young century.” The Mark and the Void was winner of the Bollinger Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and, again, selected by Time magazine for their Best Books of 2015.

The program will begin with a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception beginning at 4:30pm in the Burns Library Irish Room, with the reading to follow at approximately 5:30pm in the Thompson Room.


Celebrating the Haley House-Boston College Connection: Reflections on Compassion in Action

Wednesday, October 5, 7:00pm to 9:30pm
Burns Library

In 1966, Kathe and John McKenna rented a basement apartment in Boston’s South End and began taking in the men they found sleeping on the street. Through a generous gift from a friend, the McKennas were able to purchase 23 Dartmouth Street, which they then named “Haley House,” after the Boston College graduate and social activist Leo Haley, who died that same year at age 24.

In 1975 Dave Manzo walked into the Haley House soup kitchen as the first PULSE student from Boston College. Connections between Haley House and Boston College have grown and deepened ever since through faith and shared commitments to service and justice.

Over 325 PULSE students have followed in Dave’s footsteps, and more than 50 Gabelli Presidential Scholars have contributed their time and talents to the Haley House community. Some students from both BC programs became live-in community members and administrative staff. All developed critical social consciousness through dialogue and reflection with their professors and mentors.

In 2018, BC’s Burns Library became the official repository for the Haley House archives.

To honor the historic ties between Boston College and Haley House, and the recent retirement of Bing Broderick as executive director and appointment of Reggie Jean as his successor, Burns Library will be hosting a reception and program titled, “Celebrating the Haley House-Boston College Connection: Reflections on Compassion in Action,” on Wednesday evening, October 5. Panelists will include Kathe McKenna (co-founder and executive director,1990-2013), Bing Broderick (executive director, 2013-2022), Reggie Jean (executive director, 2022), Dave Manzo (Haley House board member and BC PULSE alumnus), and Mary Lou Bozza (Haley House development director, 2014-2021, and BC Presidential Scholar alumna).

All are welcome to attend the program and coffee and desert reception to follow immediately afterwards in Burns Library. Selections from the Haley House archives will be on display.


Celebrating Catherine Shannon: Navigating Historical Crosscurrents in the Irish Atlantic

Wednesday, September 21, 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Burns Library, Fine Print Room

To mark the publication of Navigating Historical Crosscurrents in the Irish Atlantic: Essays for Catherine B. Shannon (Cork University Press, 2022), and Shannon’s scholarship on Modern Irish and Irish American history and steadfast advocacy for peace in Northern Ireland, Burns Library is pleased to collaborate with BC’s Irish Studies program, the Charitable Irish Society, and Eire Society of Boston in hosting a book launch and reception honoring Shannon on Wednesday, September 21, in Burns Library from 4:30-6:30pm. All are welcome.

Volume editor Mary C. Kelly, professor of history at Franklin Pierce University, will speak about the inspiration for the collection, the contributors, and the range of topics their essays cover, from the Famine and its impact and legacy, to Irish nationalism and Boston political culture in the early twentieth century, to the Northern Ireland conflict. Her remarks will be followed by audience discussion and light refreshments in the Burns Library Irish Room. Copies of Navigating Historical Crosscurrents in the Irish Atlantic will be available for purchase.

Catherine Shannon is professor emerita of history at Westfield State University and a past president of the Charitable Irish Society. Among the many prizes and recognitions she has received for her work, the Eire Society of Boston presented her with its Gold Medal Award in 2015.


US Book Launch of REDRESS, Ireland's Institutions and Transitional Justice, University College Dublin Press
Tuesday, September 6 at 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Burns Library, Thompson Room

REDRESS: Ireland’s Institutions and Transitional Justice explores the ways in which Ireland – North and South – treats those who suffered in Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, County Homes, industrial and reformatory schools, and Ireland’s closed and secretive adoption system over the last one hundred years.

How will Ireland redress its legacy of institutional abuse and forced adoption? What constitutes justice? How might democracy evolve if the survivors’ experiences and expertise were allowed to lead the response to a century of gender and family separation-based abuses? These are the questions to which this collection of essays seeks answers.  The publication has its origins in the ILA Major-Grant-Award-funded Towards Transitional Justice conference, which took place on the BC campus in November 2018.
Louise Imogen Guiney “Borderlands” book launch

May 23, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Burns Library

John J. Burns Library is pleased to host a book launch for Borderlands: The Art and Scholarship of Louise Imogen Guiney, the first edited collection of original essays published on Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), Irish American poet, essayist, editor, literary critic, and epistolist, and the first volume to anthologize a selection of both her poetry and prose.

During her life in Boston and Britain, Guiney composed seventeen volumes of poetry and prose, contributed to many periodicals, edited and translated literary and religious texts, and wrote thousands of letters, many to and about central fin-de-siècle literary figures.

The program will feature remarks by contributors to the volume, including editors Jonathan Nauman and Holly Faith Nelson, and Libby MacDonald Bischof and Patricia Fanning. Discussion with the audience discussion will be followed by light refreshments.

A selection of Guiney’s books and manuscripts from the Guiney collections at Boston College and The College of the Holy Cross will be on display.

For background on Guiney’s connections to Boston College, visit the Burns Library online exhibit “Devoted Catholic & Determined Writer: Louise Imogen Guiney in Boston.”


"Satirical Fun: Irish Single Sheet Caricature in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries"
Spring '22 Burns Visiting Scholar James Kelly

Thursday, March 17, 4:30pm reception, 5:30pm lecture
Burns Library, Thompson Room

watch recording here

For half a century between the late 1770s and the late 1820s a number of Dublin based print-sellers specialised in the production of single sheet caricatures. Much of what they offered for sale consisted of Irish copies of images developed in London by the great names in caricature. There are many examples of  images produced by the likes of James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and various members of the Cruikshank family, but Irish printsellers also promoted the production of Irish images. All, whatever their origin, offer a unique perspective on what people living in Ireland found humorous that is equally revealing of the politics and society of the era. This illustrated lecture will provide an overview of this phenomenon, identify those who sustained it and outline its main achievements.