Office of Public Affairs
Nov. 20, 2002
CONTACT: Dr. Ed O'Shea, 312-2624
NEH FUNDS PROFESSOR'S YEATS SEMINAR IN IRELAND
OSWEGO -- The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Dr. Ed O'Shea, professor of English at SUNY Oswego, a $72,000 grant to offer a seminar on William Butler Yeats next summer in Ireland.
The four-week seminar based at the National University of Ireland at Galway is one of just 17 NEH Summer Seminars for School Teachers funded for 2003. O'Shea's proposal was selected along with projects by professors from such institutions as Yale and Brown universities, Amherst and Kenyon colleges and SUNY Binghamton and Geneseo.
O'Shea has conducted three previous NEH seminars on Yeats, all on the Oswego campus. The upcoming seminar, "W. B. Yeats and the Two Irelands," will be his first in Ireland. "It will focus on Yeats' often problematic relationship with both Celtic Ireland and Anglo-Ireland," he said.
Galway in western Ireland is associated with the former and is near sites, like the Norman tower Thoor Ballylee, that play roles in Yeats' life and works. "We are scheduled to go out to visit Yeats sites at Gort, Sligo and elsewhere," O'Shea said.
Studying Yeats' poetry and plays where they were written will help seminar participants see how Yeats constructed a poetry of place, he said, and how the poet drew on archaic rural Irish life both to create great Modernist poetry and "to reclaim the soul of his country" during its early 20th century turbulence.
The seminar, which will begin June 30 in Galway, is open to full-time American school teachers. Participants in O'Shea's previous seminars came from all over the United States.
He has established a Web site on the seminar -- www.nehyeatsseminar.org -- and has received hundreds of requests for material. "It's going to be a very diverse group," he said.
Seminar participants are competitively chosen and receive a $2,800 stipend, which covers most expenses. The seminar is an opportunity for teachers to be "re-energized intellectually," O'Shea said.
The Oswego professor is the author of "Yeats as Editor," published by Dolmer Press in Dublin, and he compiled of "A Descriptive Catalog of W. B. Yeats's Library," a standard reference work in Yeats studies.
His current project may also result in a book, he said. "It is a series of exemplary readings of major Yeats poems including 'A Prayer for My Daughter,' 'Easter 1916,' 'In Memory of Major Robert Gregory' and 'Among School Children,'" he writes on his Web site. He argues that those poems "display a paradigmatic strategy that Yeats employed time and again to write particularly powerful poems."
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