Irish Studies Würzburg

Study Day "Journeys Across the Waves: Discovering Irish Identity" (University College Cork, Ireland & Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg)

Datum: 18.11.2021, 14:00 - 18:15 Uhr
Vortragende:r: Dr. Damian Bracken - Prof. Caitríona Ní Dhúill - Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann - Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann

WueGlobal Conversation Seminar

Study Day on November 18, 2021, 14.00-18.15 h (CET), online via Zoom

University College Cork (UCC), Ireland & Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, (JMU), Germany

Journeys Across the Waves: Discovering Irish Identity

This study day focuses on Irish identity formation and expression, and on Irish-German and Irish-American contact zones and interrelationships, in accounts of journeys and culture contact from the earliest times until the twenty-first century. It explores European and transatlantic entanglements and the relationships between identities and communities, looking at how these relationships play out in texts and narratives. A main focus will be on the textual representation of individual and national identities in transition and how they negotiate and question social and cultural practices. To round it off the importance of literary literacy will be taken into view and how intercultural and cross-cultural learning can be implemented in ELT.


Session 1, 14.00-14.45 h (CET): Dr. Damian Bracken: Journey to the land ‘beyond which nobody lives’

The Irish literary tradition begins with St Patrick, the Briton. In his letters, he became the first writer to record his identity as Irish. The letter to his kinsfolk in Britain gives a dramatic overview of his life, his captivity, slavery, escape, and eventual return to Ireland. The highpoint is the account of his journey of escape across the Irish Sea where the contrasting identities of the peoples of the Isles – post-imperial Roman, British, and Irish – intersect. This discussion considers Patrick’s account of his sea journey in the context of his construction of Irish identity.

Session 2, 14.45-15.30 h (CET): Prof. Caitríona Ní Dhúill: Uncomfortable legacies, Irish-German parallels 

This session focusses on two texts that bring German and Irish experience into dialogue in order to think through the difficult legacies of the twentieth century in both cultures. Confronting the aftermath of Irish Catholic complicity in abusive systems, in which thousands of women and children were institutionalized, forced labour used as an instrument of social control, and clerical child abuse systematically covered up, Derek Scally (The Best Catholics in the World, 2021) finds illuminating parallels in the cultural memory of the GDR and the German debates around Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Scally’s own intercultural position as an Irish citizen living in Berlin informs his exploration of a difficult and unfinished chapter in Ireland’s recent past. We read excerpts from Scally’s book in dialogue with sections of Hugo Hamilton’s memoir of an Irish-German childhood, The Speckled People (2003), in which the negotiation between two cultures, three languages and very different understandings of nation and belonging shape the protagonist’s childhood and identity.

Break 15.30-16.00 h (CET)

Session 3, 16.00-16.45 h (CET): Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann: The Green Atlantic

This session will focus on Colum McCann's novel TransAtlantic (2013) and how it represents the so-called Green Atlantic, the interconnections between Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Irish diaspora in North America. The novel features transatlantic crossings and settings on both sides of the Atlantic ocean, from Canada and the United States of America to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. A main focus of the discussion will be how cultural differences and hybrid identities are negotiated in the text.

Session 4, 16.45-17.30 h (CET): Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann: Literary Literacy in ELT

This session, firstly, focuses on the importance of reading literary texts in English language classes as well as on the need and methods to improve students’ literary literacy. Secondly, it aims to address why Irish migration and hybrid identity should be included as a central topic in the ELT classroom and, thirdly, explores how Colm Tóibín’s novel Brooklyn (2009) can be used effectively and purposefully in the context of intercultural and cross-cultural teaching and learning approaches.

Break 17.30-17.45 h (CET)

Concluding Conversation, 17.45-18.15 h (CET)

Participating courses/seminars/modules

  • Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann (JMU): WueGlobal – Exile and Emigration: Irish-American Literature, Culture, and History #ISWÜ #WueOnline (advanced seminar)
  • Dr. Damian Bracken (UCC): WueGlobal – Journey to the land 'beyond which nobody lives' (intermediary seminar)
  • Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann (JMU): WueGlobal – Irish Studies in the EFL Classroom #ISWÜ #WueOnline (advanced seminar)
  • Prof. Caitríona Ní Dhúill (UCC): WueGlobal – GE1007 Research Project in German Studies (intermediary seminar)

The participation in the online study day is mandatory for students attending the four above mentioned courses/seminars/modules at UCC and JMU. It brings together students from two institutions, UCC and JMU, studying in the disciplines of German Literary Studies, English & American Literary Studies, EFL Methodology, and History. Students will receive assigned readings (primary and secondary sources) for each session of the study day prior to the date. The focus of the study day sessions is a discussion, following a brief incentive/input by the lecturer. The students receive credits for participation in the study day within the framework of the seminars attended at their institution. It is intended in the future to regularly offer a UCC – JMU WueGlobal Conversation Seminar.

Participating professors

Ina Bergmann is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Würzburg, Germany. She is the co-founder of Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ), a member of the international research network Pathologies of Solitude (Queen Mary University of London), a board member of the European Network for Short Fiction Research (ENSFR), and a peer reviewer for the international journals AmLit: American LiteraturesISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and EnvironmentGreen Letters: Studies in EcocriticismJournal of Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, and Journal of the Short Story in English (JSSE). She has held fellowships with the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) at the University of Oxford, the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute (TLRH) at Trinity College Dublin, and the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens at San Marino, CA, USA. She is the author of two monographs, And Then the Child Becomes a Woman: Weibliche Initiation in der amerikanischen Kurzgeschichte 1865-1970 (Winter 2003) and The Nineteenth Century Revis(it)ed: The New Historical Fiction (Routledge 2021), the (co-)editor of nine volumes of essays and special issues of journals, among them Liminality and the Short Story: Boundary Crossings in American, Canadian, and British Writing (Routledge 2015), Cultures of Solitude: Loneliness – Limitation – Liberation (Lang 2017), and Intermediality, Life Writing, and American Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (de Gruyter 2018), as well as a frequent contributor to peer-reviewed journals and international book projects.
Damian Bracken examined Latin and Latin influenced elements of early Irish vernacular law in his PhD, completed in 1994, and his research has focused on Hiberno-Latin literature, especially on the works of St Columbanus, the earliest Irish writer to leave an identifiable corpus of writings, and the first to explore Irish identity. He is interested particularly in exploring Columbanus’s works in the context of late antique and early medieval ideals of authority and concepts of orthodoxy. He has taught in the School of History, UCC, and spent periods teaching in the Department of History, Boston University, and in the Department of History, Boston College, where he held the Brian P. Burns Chair in Irish Studies. He jointly edited Ireland and Europe in the Twelfth Century: Reform and Renewal (Dublin 2006) and the commentary volume that accompanies the facsimile of the Schaffhausen Adomnán, recently published as the first volume in the series Irish Manuscripts in Facsimile.
Maria Eisenmann is Professor of EFL Teaching at the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg and the co-founder of Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ). She studied the subjects English, German and Pedagogy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne/England and at the University of Würzburg, where she completed her M.A. degree and state examination. After finishing her PhD and working as a teacher in school, she taught at the University of Education in Freiburg, held a deputy professorship for EFL Teaching at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and held the chair for EFL Teaching at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Her primary research interests lie in the field of teaching literature, media literacy and inter-/transcultural learning with a focus on Irish Studies. She has edited and co-edited numerous books and published widely in the field of foreign language education, literary literacy and teaching literature in the ELT. She is the writer of Ireland – Changes and Challenges, published in 2009, as well as Teaching English: Differentiation and Individualisation, published in 2019. She edited Teaching the Bard Today – Shakespeare-Didaktik in Forschung und Lehre, published in 2019, and co-edited Queer Beats – Gender and Literature in the EFL Classroom as well as Teaching Multimodality and Multiliteracy. Theme Issue of Anglistik 1, both published in 2018.
Caitríona Ní Dhúill is Professor in German at the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, UCC. Her research areas are German, Austrian and comparative literature from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Her publications include the books Sex in Imagined Spaces: Gender and Utopia from More to Bloch (Legenda 2010) and Metabiography: Reflecting on Biography (Palgrave 2020). She co-edited a special issue of the journal Poetics Today on negative and dystopian futures in 2016, and is currently working on a co-edited volume entitled 'Anthropocene Austria'. She edits the journalAustrian Studies, founded the Centre for Culture Ecology at Durham University in 2017, and the Irish network 'Humanities for the Anthropocene' in May 2021.



This study day is part of “WueGlobal – Writing, Learning, Digital Connection” funded by the DAAD / IVAC International Virtual Academic Collaboration Program. Participation can be applied to the WueGlobal Certificate. Please visit the WueGlobal website for more information:


There will be an additional but limited amount of seats for students from both institutions who are not participants of the four classes. If you are interested in participating in this online event, please sign up by sending an email with the subject line “STUDY DAY” to by November 11, 2021. Please include your full name, affiliation and address. Participation in the study day can be confirmed on the ISWÜ certificate.

Please note that the above given email address is used solely for registration purposes. If you want to contact ISWÜ, please use the contact information given below.


Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ)

Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann & Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann