Research Activity

Research activity in the Discipline of English extends from sexuality to technology, and embraces a wide range of periods and methodologies from early manuscript studies and book history to performance and digital poetics. Keynotes are interdisciplinarity, textuality, and cultural exchange: our researchers compose prize-winning monographs, create scholarly text and online editions, curate groundbreaking exhibitions, and co-ordinate international collaborative projects.

Research strengths

Our track record of successful funding applications at all levels is exemplary. Particular interests within the discipline currently include Chaucerian studies, early modern literature, women’s writing, masculinities, colonial and postcolonial literatures, print culture, travel writing, Victorian literature, theatre history, modernism, Irish writing, digital humanities, contemporary fiction, creative writing, and journalism. New researchers and collaborators in these and other areas of specialization are hugely welcome.

Research community

New researchers join a thriving group of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers pursuing individual and collaborative projects under expert supervision. Researchers pursue PhD or postdoctoral programmes and participate in an exciting programme of seminars, research days, performances, conferences, symposiums, and invited speakers here on campus. Professional development workshops prepare researchers for speaking at international conferences and give advice on writing, teaching, and publishing.‌

Research facilities

The stunning state of the art research facilities of the Moore Institute and Hardiman Research Building (featuring research hubs and individual workstations for all researchers) provide a space for new ideas and make co-operation with other disciplines and institutions routine. The Moore Insititute’s programme of Visiting Fellows, and easy access to all the resources of the James Hardiman Library, including special collections and archives, helps create what is a vibrant community of scholarship. 


Research Resources


Galway University Foundation Ros Dixon Visiting Research Fellowship

Applications are invited from researchers in the fields of Russian literature, Drama and Performance, and Theatre Studies, for the inaugural Galway University Foundation Ros Dixon Visiting Research Fellowship. This award is endowed in the honour of the late Dr. Ros Dixon, who specialised in Russian drama, and whose collection is housed in the Hardiman Library. The catalogue for the Ros Dixon Library of Drama and Theatre History and Performance, housed in Special Collections, may be consulted at, using ‘Ros Dixon former owner’ as the search term.
The fellowship, up to the amount of €3,000, is for a maximum duration of 4 weeks. Applicants must be engaged in research in one of the designated fields – Russian literature, Russian literature in translation, Drama and Performance, Theatre Studies – and may be graduate students, early career researchers, or established scholars. The Fellow will be housed at the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies.

Click Ros Dixon Visiting Research Fellowship  for further information and Ros Dixon Fellowship Application Form to apply.  The closing date for receipt of applications is 15 March 2019. 

To listen to the first annual Dr Ros Dixon Memorial Lecture, "The Limits of the Imagination",  please click here.


Full-Text Online Sources

Early English Books Online (EEBO): EEBO is a vast collection of printed material from 1475-1700 in electronic format containing over 125,000 individual full-text titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave’s Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640), Wing’s Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661).

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO): ECCO provides access to digital images of every page of 150,000 books published during the eighteenth century. With full-text searching of approximately 33 million pages, the database allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.

Intelex Past Masters: Coleridge: Collected Letters: the complete Oxford University Press edition of Coleridge's letters, augmented by his early family letters and the letters of his son, Hartley. The Emerging Tradition, 1500-1700: Oxford University Press editions of correspondence from important figures in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, including Elias Ashmole, Thomas Bodley, Anne Conway, Thomas Cromwell, Andrew Marvell, Dorothy Osborne, Samuel Pepys, Walter Ralegh, and Henry Wotton. The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats: complete first 3 volumes of the on-going print edition of The Collected Letters published by Oxford University Press, spanning 1865-1904. In addition, the database includes all of the letters from the further 9-12 volumes of the edition, with dating information (so far as this is known), but lacking the full annotation for which the printed volumes are justly famous. A total of 7,378 new letters are featured in the database. Of these, 88 are newly discovered letters belonging to the 1865-1904 period covered by the 3 published volumes. The remaining 7,290 letters belong to the 1905-1939 period which will be published in print and with full annotation in future volumes of the edition.

Literature Online (LION): A fully searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, 175 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.

Women Writers Online (WWO): The electronic database produced by Brown University Women Writers Project, providing electronic editions of over 200 texts in English or in English translation, authored by women, printed between 1526 and 1845.  

Newspaper Databases

LexisNexis Professional: LexisNexis is a powerful on-line research tool offering full-text access to a wealth of news, company, legal, market research and directory sources.

Times Digital Archive: The Times Digital Archive is an online archive of every page published by The Times [London] from 1785-1985. It provides online access to one of the key resources for the study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century history and culture.

Primary Research Tools

The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC): this database provides extensive bibliographical descriptions and holdings information for materials printed in Great Britain or any of its dependencies in any language from the beginning of printing to 1800—together with materials printed in English anywhere else in the world.

IReL: Humanities and Social Sciences. This major initiative by the HEA provides funding (c. €16 million over four years) for subscriptions to major online journals and databases. The first group includes Taylor and Frances Journals Online (1,191 full-text titles), Blackwell Synergy (319 titles), Cambridge University Press Journals Online (100) titles), and Sage Journals Online (360 titles). Subsequent additions are expected to include Project Muse, Film Index International, and the International Medieval Bibliography.

JSTOR: JSTOR is a comprehensive digital library, containing over 160 full-text journal titles.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: an illustrated collection, published in 60 volumes, of 55,000 biographies of the men and women from around the world who shaped all the history of the British Isles and beyond.

The English Experience: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. A collection of nearly 1,000 facsimiles of early printed books.

Special Collections

Lyric Theatre/O'Malley Collection

The papers of Pearse and Mary O’Malley of Belfast include a considerable amount of material relating to the running of the Lyric Players Theatre Company from its foundation in 1950 to the 1980s, mainly relating to the administration of the theatre and publicity for their productions. There is also material relating to Threshold, a literary journal edited by Mary O’Malley and others, including manuscript contributions and correspondence files with contributors.

Druid Theatre Company

The collection consists of files on each production (usually containing programmes, photographs and posters), as well as files of newspaper clippings relating to the Company and productions.

Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Theatre

Collection of material relation to the administration of the Irish-language Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Theatre and publicity for their productions, 1928 to the present.

John McGahern Archive

Literary papers of the Irish novelist and short-story writer John McGahern, currently in cataloguing



Researchers in the Discipline of English

There is a thriving community of researchers in the Discipline of English at NUI Galway. Staff, postdoctoral researchers, PhD and MLitt students come together to share ideas and spark projects and collaborations in seminars, workshops, and conferences, and the discipline has a highly successful track record of funding applications. Prospective researchers should in the first instance contact potential supervisors or mentors. A list of staff research interests and contact details is available here. Our broad range of research interests is reflected in a wide variety of current and recent projects.

Postgraduate Researchers

Emily Allen
ThePower of a Letter:  noble Irish women's use of rhetoric as a means of creating political agency and influence in petition letters to the Elizabethan state.

Ashley Cahillane
Environmental Justice and Water Scarcity in Contemporary U.S. and Australian literature

John Carrigy
‘This Brytish Discovery and Recovery Enterprise’: John Dee and Elizabethan empire

Michelle Carroll
Contextualising the Writings of Tom Murphy

 Isabel Corfe
‘Sing England for Ever! And Erin-go-Bragh!’: Irishness in the Nineteenth-Century English Broadside Ballad

Ryan Dennis
Irish Farm Narratives in a post-McGahern world of EU Agricultural Policy (practice-based PhD)

Eamonn Doggett
The residue of inexpressibility in the fiction of Dermot Healy

Tiana Fischer
Retaining Flux in Fixity: Revisional Composition, Autopoiesis, and the Meta-Mediality of Modern Texts

Gabrielle Fletcher
Dislocating reformist notions of the family in the work of Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, and Edith Wharton

Ciara Glasscott
“Is childhood then so all divine?” investigation the representation of childhood and pedagogical realism in the work of Anne Brontë 

Ciara Griffin
Embodiment and Identity in the Literature of South Asian Women Writers

Jessica Hannon
Fairy tales making waves: adaptations in the wake of second and third wave feminism

Colette Hughes
A Carpenter of Words: The Poetry, Engravings and art of makar David Jones.

Siobhan Kane
Love and John McGahern 

Loraine Kavanagh
The use of metaphor in academic writing by Chinese writers in an English-language academic environment.

Ian Kennedy
The Life of a Nation: Arts Policy in Ireland 1948-1968

Edward Kearns
Temporality and Experimental Narrative Structure in Modernist and Electronic Literature

Ioanna Kyvernitou
Modelling Women Philosophers’ Correspondence Networks in Seventeenth-century Europe
(Digital Arts and Humanities)
See also the RECIRC project, funded by the European Research Council:

Desmond Lally
The Role of the Gate Theatre in Irish Modernism, 1928-1945

Tomás Lally
 'To begin with'

Christopher McCann
Revealing Social Hierarchy through Literature and Music

Siobhan Morrissey
Secondary worlds and liminal spaces: a study of Enid Blyton

Anthony Payne
A Bibliography of Richard Hakluyt 

Elizabeth Quirke
The Fuschias bending Low: A Study of Irish Women Poets in Contemporary Irish Poetry Publishing, 1980-2017

Eoghan Ryan
F.R.Higgins and the Irish Poetry of his Time

Sarah Josefine Schafer
Anglicisms in the German Broadcasting Media: A Detailed Analysis of Causes and Developments 

Anna Sikora-Carelse
Future Chaos: Science Fiction and the Cold War 

John Singleton
From The Dark to the Rising Sun: John McGahern and Irish Cultural Development from the Sixties to the Twenty-First Century

Emily Tock
On the Origin: Evolution, Empire, and Sexuality in Edward Lear

Jane Tottenham
The Journal of Caroline Synge (1818-1862): A Digital Edition and Study in Life-Writing

with Medieval Studies
Francisco Jesús Rozano García
A Farewell to Elegy: Generic Redefinition of the Old English Text in the Early Medieval Literary Tradition 
with the Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance
Mairéad Ní Chroinín
The Live Experience and Mobile Digital Theatre (Digital Arts and Humanities)
with Film

Mairead Casey
'Playing Devil's Advocate: Cultural Expressions of Gender, Sexuality, and Sexual Violence in Possession and Exorcism Narratives of 21st-Century American Horror'

with Italian
Andrea Ciribuco
Emanuel Carnevali: A Translated Italian in Modernist America

Recent Research Graduates

Alan Bergin
Masquerade, Self-invention and the Nation: Uncovering the Fiction of Katherine Cecil Thurston

Megan Buckley
"Midwives to Creativity": A Study of Salmon Publishing, 1981-2007

Evan Bourke
The Patroness of the Hartlib Circle: Women’s Authorship and Reception 1640-1665
See also the RECIRC project, funded by the European Research Council:

Meaghan Connell
It's in the details the divil is: Corpus linguistics and Irish English literary dialect

Mark Corcoran
Nineteenth-century Irish fiction: Irish Identity, O'Connell and the Transnational

Neassa Doherty
The Dublin Group: Irish Mezzotint Printmakers and the Dublin Print Trade c. 1740 to 1750

Ciaran Dowd
Upon Uncertain Ice: Contingency, Being and Witness in later Cormac McCarthy

Rebecca Downes
Becoming mortal: A study of death in late works by John Banville, Philip Roth and J. M. Coetzee

Lisa Fitzgerald
The Playboy and the Beauty Queen: Druid’s Role in Exporting the West

Rosemary Gallagher
Screamingly funny: A critical approach to the comedic anti-war novels of Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins and Tony Vigorito

Anna Gasperini
A Study of the Victorian Popular Periodical Publications known as Penny Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls

Patricia Holmes
Irish Travellers: an Exploration in Criticism and Fiction 

Barry Houlihan
‘Not our line of territory’: A New Study of Social, Political, and Economic influence on Irish Theatre, 1957-1984

Kevin Hynes
Hiberno-English: Quo Vadis? : a Study of Four Evolving Phonemes in the Hiberno-English of Secondary-School Students in Galway City and County

Kristin Jones
Literature of the Unword: A Comparative Study of Samuel Beckett and Jack B. Yeats and Mary Swanzy

Ann Keady
Body and Soul: Turning Turk in Early Modern Barbary captivity narratives

Martin Keaveney
A Novel and an Essay on the Process of John McGahern’s 'The Dark’ (practice-based)

Nora King
Confession in Literature from Webster to Defoe

Carmel Lambert
The Shape of Africa: Liberia & Travel Writing

Conor Montague
Big Houses, Epistolary Relationships and the Irish Revival 

Chanté Mouton Kinyon
Postcoloniality in the Irish and Harlem Renaissances 

Mairéad Ní Chualáin
Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe: Staging works derived from English and Hiberno-English (MLitt)

Eavan O’Dochartaigh
From Science to Sensation: A Study of Visual and Literary Representation in Scientific Exploration in the mid C19th

Ciara O’Dowd
The On and Off Stage Roles of Irish Abbey Theatre Actresses of the 1930s

Garret O’Malley
Stories of the Self: Narrative Strategies and the Boundaries of Self-definition in Context and Practice

Emily O’Flaherty
Patrons, Peers and Subscribers: the publication of Mary Barber’s Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1734)

Kathleen Pacious
The Ethics of Narrative Form: The Gentleman and the Socially Marginal in Gaskell, Dickens and Eliot 

Mikyung Park
Gender and Ethnicity in Modern Irish Theatre: Martin McDonagh and Marina Carr

Siobhán Purcell
Deforming Disability in the works of James Joyce & Samuel Beckett

Paul Rooney
Readership and Non-Canonical Victorian Popular Fiction 1860-1900: Materiality, Textuality, and Narrative 

Sean Scully
Teaching Richard III

Brian Ward
1912: Cultural Expressions of Irishness in the Periodical Press 

with Huston Film School
James Casey
Disability, deficiency and excess: a critical re-examination of the construction, production and representations of physical disability in contemporary European film

Hilary Dully
Documentarties on women's experience

Levi Hane

Veronica Johnson
The Representation and Narrative Function of a Character's Unconscious in the Films of Luis Bunuel, Alfred Hitchcock and Krzysztof Kieslowski


 Recent Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Marina Ansaldo
Ireland Illustrated
This project resulted in an online database showcasing images of Ireland that appeared as part of travel accounts, both manuscript and printed, created before 1850. The project represents a collaboration between the Moore Institute (NUI Galway) and the National Library of Ireland.

Dr Anne Karhio          
Virtual Landscapes? New Media Technologies and the Poetics of Place.
The project focuses on the impact of new media technologies on literary representations of landscape in Irish poetry and poetic culture. It addresses the relationship between new media and poetry both thematically, and through the aesthetic and cultural implications of new forms of dissemination. Works included have been published in print as well as in digital formats, and the project also covers poetry’s engagement with visual and audiovisual arts, music, and other forms of artistic production.

Staff Research Interests

For anyone considering applying for a PhD in English, please consult our 'How to Apply' page and take note of the funding application deadlines such as the Irish Research Council (2 November 2016), Hardiman and Galway Fellowships.
If you are interested in applying, try to identify two members of the English staff whose prior research experience is relevant to your proposed research.  Please also consider making a 'pre-application' proposal along the lines indicated on the 'How to Apply' page.
Departmental meetings to assess PhD applications will be held each semester and, as demand requires, during the summer months.
If you have any further queries, please consult the Departmental Director of Graduate Research, Professor Lionel Pilkington, at


Our broad range of research interests is reflected in a wide variety of current and recent projects.
Please click on staff names for further information.

Dr Rebecca Anne Barr
Literature of the 'long' eighteenth century; masculinity and literature; printing and print culture; the novel: contemporary poetry and visual culture.  

Professor Daniel Carey
Early modern travel writing; literature and colonialism; early modern literature and philosophy; John Locke; seventeenth-century literature and science; eighteenth-century fiction, esp. Defoe; the Enlightenment and postcolonial theory.

Dr Clíodhna Carney
Chaucer, medieval poetics, gifts and exchange, Spenser's Faerie Queene

Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan 
[On Research Leave 2016-17]
Early modern literature especially women's writing, histories of reading, translation and transmission, Renaissance manuscript culture

Dr Sorcha Gunne
Gender studies and transnational feminism, world-literature, postcolonial literature and theory, and contemporary literature.

Dr John Kenny
Twentieth-century literature; contemporary Irish and world fiction; history of criticism, especially literary journalism and reviewing of all periods; the works of John Banville; Creative Writing and Practice.

Dr Frances McCormack
Old and Middle English Literature; in particular the works of Chaucer, religious and devotional literature, and heresy

Dr Andrew Ó Baoill

Dr Muireann O'Cinneide
19th-century literature; research specialisms in women's writing, politics and literature, and colonial & post-Colonial writing, particularly travel writing.

Dr Adrian Paterson
[On Sabbatical Leave 2016-17]
Modernism; fin de siècle and twentieth century literature; literature and the arts, especially music; orality, print, performance, technology, including radio broadcasting; the works of W.B.Yeats, Ezra Pound, James Joyce.

Dr Richard Pearson
[On Sabbatical Leave, Semester 2, 2016-17]
Nineteenth-century literature; print culture and the literary marketplace in the nineteenth-century; archaeology and anthropology in fiction; the writings of W.M.Thackeray and Charles Dickens; William Morris and the arts and crafts movement; digital humanities.

Professor Lionel Pilkington
Irish drama, theatre and Irish cultural history, postcolonialism and Irish studies, culture and politics in Northern Ireland..

Dr Lindsay Ann Reid
Early Modern Literature (especially Shakespeare and Spenser); Late Medieval Literature (especially Chaucer and Gower); Mythology and Folklore; Classical Latin Poetry (especially Ovid and Virgil); Adaptation and Reception Studies; Book History and Early English Print Culture 

Professor Sean Ryder
19th-century Irish culture; the works of Thomas Moore and James Clarence Mangan; digital humanities: critical editing; film studies

Dr Elizabeth Tilley
19th century Gothic literature and history of the novel; 19th century serials, Irish publishing history and periodical production; book history; links between art and literature 

Dr Justin Tonra 
19th-Century Literature; Digital Humanities; Book History; Textual Studies; Bibliography; Scholarly Editing.

Ms Bernadette O'Sullivan

How to Apply to PhD Programme

Applications to the Structured PhD programme are made via our online system at Further information can be found here.

Applying to undertake PhD research at the Department of English at NUI Galway

We have a vibrant and large community of PhD researchers in English, several of whom hold prestigious research awards.  As entry to our PhD programme is necessarily limited and can take time and preparation, we have developed a simple application process that will provide you with speedy feedback. This process will also ensure we can match your proposed idea to an appropriate supervisor. 

 The first step is for prospective students to review the online profiles of staff in English in order to ensure that there is a good match between your proposed project and staff research interests. See

Suggestions for preparing a funding application to the Irish Research Council (IRC), Hardiman Fellowship or Galway Doctoral Scholarship Schemes.

For details relating to the Galway Doctoral Scholarship scheme (deadline 16th April 2018 at 17:00), please see

 N.B.  Consult a member or members of staff in relation to your application and, crucially, be prepared to conduct revisions and changes in the lead up to your application. A full list of English staff can be found at (

1. Title [the more succinct and specific the better; chat with a member of staff if you are unsure]
2. Description of proposed research [see the sample illustration below; please pay close attention to the kind of language used.]
3. Critical context [indicate your awareness of the existing critical literature in the field and show how your proposed study will be positioned in relation to this critical literature; chat with a member of staff if you are unsure.]
4. Methodology [outline the methodological perspectives—e.g. feminist, Marxist, psycho-analytical, phenomenological, archive-based—that you intend to deploy; this doesn’t have to be definitive, but it is asking for some self-consciousness in relation to critical approach. Chat with a member of staff if you are unsure.]
5. Sources and archives [list the primary sources and/or archives that you will need to conduct your approach; be sure to point out if some of these are available at the James Hardiman Library. Any of the JHL archivists or librarians will be delighted to provide advice and assistance.]
6. Statement of why you want to carry out the research in Galway and the relevance of your research to the proposed supervisor's work to date. [Filling in this section carefully suggests a capable research project; don’t neglect this part of the application.]

1. Illustrative example from the first paragraph of a successful research proposal

“This thesis aims to expand our understanding of the Irish harp as a key cultural signifier in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland. Using a combination of sociological and literary analysis, it will contextualise the position of the harp in relation to the ideological, political and economic structures of the period. More specifically, it will trace the various visual, literary and musical representations of the harp alongside an examination of the harp as an actual object of musical performance and as an economic commodity. A particular focus will be given to the harp’s evolving role within Irish nationalist discourse from the period of the United Irishmen (and the crucially important Belfast Harper’s festival of 1792), to the Sinn Féin movement of the early twentieth century.”

Note the power of the short declaritive verbal expressions:This thesis aims to expand our understanding of the Irish harp as a key cultural signifier in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland. Using a combination of sociological and literary analysis, it will contextualise the position of the harp in relation to the ideological, political and economic structures of the period. More specifically, it will trace the various visual, literary and musical representations of the harp alongside an examination of the harp as an actual object of musical performance and as an economic commodity. A particular focus will be given to the harp’s evolving role within Irish nationalist discourse from the period of the United Irishmen (and the crucially important Belfast Harper’s festival of 1792), to the Sinn Féin movement of the early twentieth century.”

2. Illustration of research questions

“The thesis will pose the following specific questions:

  • What are the specific ways that the figure of the Irish harp been mobilised in Irish discourse, and with what purpose and effect? Were there variations in the cultural meanings of the harp among different socio-economic and political groups? What factors might explain these variations or evolutions?
  • What is the relationship between literary/iconographic representations of the harp, and the manufacture, performance and reception of the harp as a musical instrument? How did economic and sociological factors affect the role of the harp as popular performance instrument? How do these material factors relate to the literary, scholarly and iconographic representations of the harp?
  • To what extent does the position and meaning of the Irish harp enable us to understand the general evolution of Irish nationalism in the period?”

3. Description of the relationship of the proposed thesis to existing research

  • Describe briefly what you know of the existing field already, showing that you know what the major works in the field are at present, and what you need to read
  • Do not give bibliographical lists or footnotes – discuss and briefly evaluate the scholarship in plain prose, perhaps categorising by theme or chronology

Suggest how your work will EXTEND and/or CHALLENGE this work (what are the gaps and problems in the existing field that you will address?)

“The iconographic and ideological significance of the Irish harp has not been explored in a comprehensive interdisciplinary context to date. Some excellent musicological examinations exist, such as Colette Moloney’s recent synthesization of Bunting’s collections which deals authoritatively with one specific area, but is therefore limited in range. While Joep Leerssen has expertly examined the creation of a ‘self-image’ of Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the prominence of the harp as an agent in the formation of culture, ideology and society is not a central concern of his. Barra Boydell’s research into the iconography of the harp offers interesting overviews; however much of his information on the subject comes from the visual or historical. In no case are the theoretical perspectives of semiotics and feminist theory deployed.”

Prof Lionel Pilkington
Director of Graduate Research (English)