Researchers at UCD

Dara Patricia Downey


School Of English, Drama & Film
Newman Building
Dublin 4

Tel: 017168158


Dara Downey is  the author of American Women's Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), part of a series on the Gothic edited by Clive Bloom.  This monograph was based on research conducted with the help of a two-year post-doctoral fellowship from the then Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (now the IRC).  She was appointed Lecturer in American Literature in the School of English, Drama and Film in September 2013, and has been co-editor of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies since 2013.  Her teaching interests include Contemporary, Modern, and Early American Writing, the literature of the Americas and genre issues, while her research interests span eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American fiction, popular and supernatural fiction, childen's literature, women's writing and gender studies.


Honours and Awards

Year: 2010.
Title: Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship


Association: European Society for Studies in English, Function/Role: Member
Association: National Association for English Studies, Function/Role: Treasurer
Association: Irish Association for American Studies, Function/Role: Member
Association: International Gothic Association, Function/Role: Member

Conference Contributions

Dara Downey (2013) I Must Have Died: Post-Mortem Speech in the Uncanny Tales of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and Harriet Prescott Spofford. [Invited Oral Presentation], Staff/ Postgraduate Research Seminar, School of English, Trinity College Dublin , 06-NOV-13 - 06-NOV-13.
Dara Downey (2013) Object Lessons and Memorial Failure in Madeline Yale Wynne's The Little Room. [Invited Lecture], Staff Research Seminars, School of English, Drama and Film, UCD , 20-FEB-13 - 20-FEB-13.
Dara Downey (2013) Liminal Spaces in American Women's Ghost Stories. [Invited Oral Presentation], Workshop on ¿Liminality¿ (part of the ¿Identity¿ research series), Trinity Long Room Hub , 16-OCT-13 - 16-OCT-13.
Dara Downey (2013) A Thing of Paint: Vampiric Portraits Portraits in Fin-de-Siècle American Women's Fiction. [Oral Presentation], International Gothic Association (IGA), University of Surrey , 01-AUG-13 - 04-AUG-13.
Dara Downey (2013) Whose Myth is it Anyway?: Fantasy Fiction and the American Long Ago. [Oral Presentation], IAAS Postgraduate/ Early Career Symposium, Trinity College Dublin , 18-MAY-13 - 18-MAY-13.
Dara Downey (2013) Wandering Mediums and Absent Spectres in the Ghost Stories of Emma Frances Dawson. [Oral Presentation], IAAS Annual Conference, University of Limerick , 26-APR-13 - 28-APR-13.
Dara Downey (2013) Material Girls: Accessorising Witchcraft in Children's Fantasy Fiction. [Invited Oral Presentation], Staff/ Postgraduate Research Seminar, School of English, Trinity College , 27-MAR-13 - 27-MAR-13.
Dara Downey (2014) Negotiating the Goddess in The Time of the Ghost. [Oral Presentation], A Fantastic Legacy: Diana Wynne Jones Memorial Conference, Newcastle University , 05-SEP-14 - 07-SEP-14.
Dara Downey (2014) Self-Haunting Hallways in Henry James' Shorter Fiction. [Oral Presentation], The Real Thing: Henry James in the Material World, University of Aberdeen , 16-JUL-14 - 19-JUL-14.
Dara Downey (2014) Hidden Cults and Hive Consciousness in the Urban Horror Story. [Conference Organising Committee Chairperson], Between Spaces and Places: Landscapes of Liminality, Trinity College Dublin , 05-JUN-14 - 06-JUN-14.
Dara Downey (2014) The Lady's Maid's Burden: Ethnicity and Servant Status in the Late Nineteenth-Century Ghost Story. [Oral Presentation], Irish Association for American Studies (IAAS) annual conference, NUI Galway , 25-APR-14 - 26-APR-14.
Dara Downey (2014) Relocating the Genius Loci: Dark Divinities and Migrant Culture in Twentieth-Century American Urban Gothic. [Oral Presentation], Locating the Gothic, Limerick School of Art and Design , 22-OCT-14 - 25-OCT-14.


Year 2002 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: BA Subject:
Year 2009 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: PhD Subject:



Outreach Activities

As Outreach Liaison Officer in the School of English, Drama and Film, I am co-organiser of the School's contribution to Open Day (November 2013) and Unilife (June 2014).



Dara Downey (2014) American Women's Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Available Online [Details]

Book Chapters

Dara Downey (2015) 'Sex and Bifocal Gothic in Carson McCullers' Clock Without Hands' In: Charles Crow (eds). A Handbook of Southern Gothic. Basingstoke: Palgrave. [Details]
Dara Downey (2015) 'Locating the Spectre in Dan Curtis's Burnt Offerings' In: Murray Leeder (eds). Cinematic Ghosts. London: Blomsbury. [Details]
Dara Downey (2013) 'Not a Refuge Yet: Shirley Jackson's Materialist Domestic Fantastic' In: Charles L. Crow (eds). The Companion to American Gothic. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. [Details]
Dara Downey (2013) 'Fanaticism and Familicide from Wieland to The Shining' In: Marc DiPaolo (eds). Godly Heretics: Essays on Alternative Christianity in Literature and Popular Culture. Jefferson: McFarland. [Details]
Dara Downey (2011) 'I Use Magic a Lot, of Course: Shirley Jackson and Late 1950s Anthropology' In: Darryl Jones, Elizabeth McCarthy and Bernice M. Murphy (eds). It Came From the 1950s: Popular Culture, Popular Anxieties. Basingstoke: Palgrave. [Details]
Dara Downey (2011) 'Seven Legs My True Love Has: Fantasies of Female Monstrosity in American Horror Fiction' In: Paul L Yoder and Mario Kreuter (eds). The Horrid Looking Glass: Reflections on Monstrosity. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press. [Details]
Dara Downey (2010) 'Taking Noiseless Turns in the Passage: Phantoms and Floor-Plans in Henry James' The Turn of the Screw¿' In: Helen Conrad-O¿Briain and Julie Anne Stevens (eds). A Ghostly Genre: Essays on the Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Dublin: Four Courts Press. [Details]
Dara Downey (2009) 'A Labyrinth Without a Clew: Husbands, Houses and Harpies in Richard Matheson¿s The Shrinking Man and Mark Z. Danielewski¿s House of Leaves' In: Lisa DeTora (eds). Heroes of Film, Comics and American Culture: Essays on Real and Fictional Defenders of Home. Jefferson: McFarland. [Details]
Dara Downey (2008) 'The Dead Woman in the Wallpaper: Interior Decorating and Domestic Disturbance in the American Ghost Story' In: Sheri Weinstein and Elizabeth Dill (eds). Death Becomes Her: Cultural Narratives of Women and Death in Nineteenth-Century America. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press. [Details]
Dara Downey (2007) 'Don't Turn Around: The Embodiment of Disorientation in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves' In: Elizabeth McCarthy and Kate Hebblethwaite (eds). Fear: Essays on the Meaning and Experience of Fear. Dublin: Four Courts Press. [Details]
Dara Downey and Darryl Jones (2005) 'King of the Castle: Shirley Jackson and Stephen King' In: Bernice M. Murphy (eds). Shirley Jackson: Essays on the Literary Legacy. Jefferson: McFarland. [Details]


Research Interests

My research interests include American literature from the 1600s, the Gothic, the short story, gender studies, Marxism, literary theory, geography, anthropology and the supernatural. 

My current research interests relate specifically to the role of servant and slave figures and their relationship to non-Protestant belief systems in nineteenth-century uncanny American fiction.

My future research plans include a study of witchcraft, goddess culture, and alternate religious practices in American urban Gothic fiction from the twentieth century, including writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Hand and Thomas Ligotti.


Recent Postgraduates

My recent MA/ M.Phil students have worked on Arthur Miller, slave narratives, twentieth-century fantasy, science fiction and dystopian young-adult fiction, George R.R. Martin, Susanna Clarke, Mark Z. Danielewski, gender studies and horror.


Teaching Philosophy

I am firmly committed to student-centred, research-led teaching, so as to foster critical thinking, analytical skills, and communication skills in students, while encouraging their interest in a broad range of literary and cultural products, critical approaches, and historical backgrounds.

Modules Coordinated

201400   ENG31180     English: Literature of the Americas
201400   ENG30760     English: Early American Writing
201400   ENG41670     English: Contemporary American Writing

Enhancement of Teaching

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

Developing as a Teacher

Innovation & Leadership



External Collaborators

I am co-editor (with Dr. Jenny McDonnell in IADT) of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies online (, Issue 13 of which was published in Summer 2014.

I am currently organising the annual Irish Association for American Studies conference, to be held in Trinity College Dublin in April 2014, with colleagues from both UCD and TCD.

I also edit for the IAAS journal, The Irish Association of American Studies, the next issue of which will be out in late 2014.

I recently (in June 2014) co-organised an international, interdisciplinary conference entitled entitled "Between Between Places and Spaces: Landscapes of Liminality" in the Trinity Long Room Hub, 5th and 6th June 2014.