Several faculty members hope to soon make Irish Studies an academic program that students can pursue at The University of New Mexico. They already offer sponsored opportunities to study abroad, and now the interdepartmental group is hosting an inaugural lecture series.
The Mary Power Lecture in Irish Studies is named in honor of Mary Power, Professor Emerita of English who taught at UNM from 1969 to 2011.
“Mary's career laid the foundation for Irish Studies at UNM,” said Sarah Townsend, assistant professor of English and co-founder of the Irish Studies Initiative. “She continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of our Irish initiatives and a good friend to the English Department. We are thrilled to honor her in this way.”
Power received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and enjoyed a prolific 42-year career at UNM, establishing herself as an outstanding teacher, mentor and colleague. She is an expert in Irish literature, especially the work of James Joyce, and is currently working on a project about contemporary Irish detective novels.
The inaugural Mary Power Lecture in Irish Studies will be delivered on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 by Matthew Spangler, an internationally acclaimed playwright, director and Professor of Performance Studies at San José State University. The lecture, titled “Between the Idealized and the Undeserving: Representing Refugees in Irish and American Theatre” will take place at 7 p.m. in the Waters Room (Center for Southwest Research, Zimmerman Library). The lecture is free and open to the public. Former students of Mary Power are especially encouraged to attend the event.
“We are interested in reaching across disciplines and geographic areas,” said Caleb Richardson, assistant professor of history and co-founder of the Irish Studies Initiative. “We are especially excited to bring Matthew Spangler to campus because his plays and scholarship exemplify our global approach to Irish Studies.”
Spangler’s scholarship, teaching and theater work focuses on immigration and asylum seeking in Ireland, the United States and the Middle East. His award-winning plays, which include stage adaptations of T.C. Boyle’s novel Tortilla Curtain and Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, have been staged in North America, Ireland, Pakistan and the UK, including on London’s West End. He has published extensively on Irish and intercultural theatre, and he also co-directs a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled “The California Immigration Experience through Literature and Theatre.”
His lecture at UNM will focus on recent initiatives in the performing arts that aim to represent the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland and the U.S.