Oswego professor to direct NEH institute in Ireland

Yeats presentationEdward O’Shea, a professor of English at SUNY Oswego, will direct a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers on the eminent Irish poet William Butler Yeats next summer.

The NEH has awarded him a grant of $175,693 to run the four-week program in Ireland, which features a distinguished international faculty of Yeats scholars. It is one of just 12 NEH summer institutes for college faculty funded for 2008.

O’Shea has previously conducted six NEH summer seminars on Yeats for high school teachers. The 2008 program will be his first institute, a larger program aimed at fellow professors and focusing on the latest scholarship.

Titled “W.B. Yeats: A Reassessment,” the institute will draw on new resources available only in the last 20 years, such as new biographies of Yeats and his family and new editions of the poet’s vast writings, which include plays, criticism and letters, in addition to poetry.

Participants will study with eight Yeats scholars from the United States, Ireland, Canada and Great Britain. In addition to O’Shea, author of two books on Yeats, they are Daniel Albright of Harvard University, author of “The Myth Against Myth: A Study of Yeats’s Imagination in Old Age”; Brian Arkins of the National University of Ireland, Galway, author of a book on Greek and Roman themes in Yeats; Terence Brown of Trinity College, Dublin, author of a critical biography of Yeats; Margaret Mills Harper of Georgia State University, Atlanta, author of a book on the literary and spiritual collaboration of Yeats and his wife; William O’Donnell of the University of Memphis, editor of three volumes in the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats; James Pethica of Williams College, who is writing the authorized biography of Yeats associate Lady Gregory; and Ann Saddlemyer of the universities of Toronto and Victoria, author of the authorized biography of Yeats’ wife.

The institute will be based at the National University of Ireland, Galway, with one week at the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo and a weekend in Dublin to see a major exhibition at the National Library of Ireland called “W.B. Yeats, Works and Days.”

In addition, each week will include a field trip to relevant sites, such as Coole Park and Yeats’ tower, Thoor Ballyee. “We will read and discuss informally selected Yeatsian texts at each of these sites,” O’Shea said. “A sense of place is crucial for understanding Yeats, especially his ‘Tower’ poems.”

Twenty-five college and university faculty members will be competitively selected for the institute. They will each receive a stipend of $3,000 to cover basic expenses.

Complete information on the institute is available online at http://www.yeatsinstitute.org/.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Reading Yeats—SUNY Oswego English Professor Edward O’Shea will direct a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in Ireland next July and August with a distinguished international faculty of Yeats scholars. Here, O’Shea reads Yeats’ “Under Ben Bulben” in the Irish churchyard where the eminent poet lies buried, with Ben Bulben in the mist, during one of his six previous NEH seminars.

(Posted: Nov 14, 2007)