NUI Galway ‘Representations of Jews in Irish Literature’ Exhibition to Open at Columbia University

Black and white photograph of a scene from from ‘The Dybbuk’ by S. Ansky, produced by the Lyric Theatre Players, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Mar 31 2017 Posted: 09:16 IST

National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) will participate in an open house exhibition of rare book materials and a panel discussion on ‘Representations of Jews in Irish Literature’ at the Butler Library in Columbia University’s Heyman Center, New York on Tuesday, 4 April.

The exhibition, curated by Dr Emily Bloom of Columbia University and Dr Marie-Claire Peters of Ulster University, is one of the outcomes of a three-year research project led by Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway.

The project, which has researched representations of Jews in Irish literature over the last 1,000 years in both Irish and English, was funded £408,000 by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and is a collaboration between Ulster’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute and NUI Galway’s Moore Institute.

The renowned Shakespearean scholar Dr James Shapiro from Columbia University will compère the event. Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh will speak about the origins of the project and also about Irish-Jewish autobiography. The Irish author, Ruth Gilligan, will read from her latest novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, a work of historical fiction that describes the complex Irish-Jewish community.

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh at NUI Galway, an expert on German Jewish studies who took the initiative to develop this collaborative project five years ago, said: “I am delighted that this project is being brought to the Heyman Center. The exhibition is testament to the fact that Irish literature reveals a cultural diversity that goes far beyond narrow stereotypes. As two diasporic communities whose paths have often crossed, the Irish and the Jews have complex shared histories.

This exhibition and discussion aims to connect these interwoven narratives of migration, displacement, and cultural contact. This project sheds a light on an important aspect of how Irish identity has evolved, and the Columbia version of the exhibition will add a further dimension by shedding light on American aspects of Irish-Jewish interaction. It cannot be said often enough that Irish identity is and always has been far more diverse than some narratives would suggest, and I look forward to engaging with colleagues from across the Atlantic on the subject.”

Versions of the exhibition have successfully toured Ireland in 2016 and 2017, across six towns and cities in Dublin, Armagh, Belfast, Galway, Coleraine and Waterford.

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