Rome Seminar 2017: Ireland and Italy

(part of a series)

Location: Rome Global Gateway

Rome Seminar 2017: Ireland & Italy

June 16-30 at Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway

This year's Rome Seminar, Ireland & Italy, is presented by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies together with Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

In the first chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus rejects a simple model of colonial rule in Ireland, declaring that he is “the servant of two masters … and English and an Italian.” Stephen means the British monarch and the Roman Pope, but, as always with Stephen, there is much else implicit in his statement. As the case of Joyce – who became in part an Italian writer himself – shows, the relationship with Italy has been crucial in the shaping of Irish culture, even if it has often been overlooked in favour of the more easily accessible connections with the English-speaking world. The slogan “Home Rule Means Rome Rule”, used by Unionists and Westminster MPs in the late nineteenth century, reflects a widespread idea that, for the overwhelmingly Catholic population of Ireland there was (as Stephen Dedalus suggests) always an alternative capital city to London – and it was not Dublin. The story of Ireland has in so many ways been a story inextricably connected to the Church and thus to Rome. In that sense alone a great deal of Irish history has taken place in Italy, but there is also an old, abiding and complex set of connections between Ireland and Italy, from medieval monasticism (and earlier) to the contemporary European Union.


Rome Seminar 2017: Ireland and Italy

June 16-30 at Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway

The departure of the defeated Irish aristocracy to seek refuge on the Catholic continent, the so-called “Flight of the Earls” in 1607, produced a prominent Irish (and usually Irish-speaking) presence in Rome. An Irish seminary, still in existence, was founded there in 1628, and there was significant Irish participation in Italian armies throughout the early modern period. 

The connection with the Church has ensured a continuous and intense relationship between Ireland and Italy through to the present day, but Italy has also exercised a powerful influence on other aspects of Irish culture. Joyce was thoroughly formed as a writer in Italy, and most of his voluminous correspondence is written in the Italian language; W.B. Yeats was heavily influenced both by Italian visual art and political thought; Heaney’s reading of Dante was what gave shape to the extraordinary poem “Station Island”. Ireland and Italy have parallel histories of political violence in the 1970s, and the financial crisis that began in 2008 has put the two countries in a partly shared predicament of “peripheral” Eurozone countries.

The Notre Dame Irish Seminar and Rome Seminar will come together for a joint seminar on “Ireland and Italy” from June 16-30 June, 2017, at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway. A variety of scholars, from Ireland, Italy, and the United States will address the historical, cultural, political and social connections between the two countries, including some of the following broad areas: Ireland and the Vatican; the early modern Irish presence in Italy; Joyce and Italy; Yeats and Ravenna; Yeats and Fascism; political and revolutionary thought in Ireland and Italy; the reception and translation of Irish literature in Italy; Italian themes in contemporary Irish literature; Ireland, Italy and the European Union. The seminar will include a tour of the Irish College, trips to Roman and Vatican archives to explore their Irish holdings, a field trip to the iconic Cinecittà film studios, a launch of the new Italian translation of Finnegans Wake, an exhibition on the reception of Irish literature in Italy (including Irish authors unknown at home who had great success in Italy), a reading by the poet Michael Longley, and tours of sites of Irish interest in Rome such as the tomb of the Great O’Neill in San Pietro in Montorio, the Irish basilica of San Clemente, and the apartment near the Spanish Steps where Joyce wrote “The Dead”.


Antonio Bibbò (University of Manchester)
Matteo Binasco (University of Notre Dame)
Andrea Binelli (Università di Trento)
Joe Buttigieg (University of Notre Dame)
Mariavita Cambria (University of Messina)
Kathleen Cummings (University of Notre Dame)
Maria DiBattista (Princeton University)
Patrick Griffin (University of Notre Dame)
Declan Kiberd (University of Notre Dame)
Edna Longley (Queen’s University Belfast)
Michael Longley (poet)
Mícheál Mac Craith (NUI Galway)
Ian McBride (University of Oxford)
John McCourt (Università Roma Tre)
Barry McCrea (University of Notre Dame)
Margaret Meserve (University of Notre Dame)
Ilaria Natali (Università degli Studi di Firenze)
Bríona Nic Dhiarmada (University of Notre Dame)
Diarmuid Ó Giolláin (University of Notre Dame)
Enrico Terrinoni (Università per Stranieri di Perugia)
Kevin Whelan (University of Notre Dame)
Clair Wills (Princeton University)

Under the Executive Directorship of Barry McCrea Irish & Rome Seminar 2017 will be held in Rome, Italy. For more information about this year's seminar, please contact cwils don@nd.eduand visit the Irish Studies website.

For information about appying to participate, please visit the application page.