Annual Distinguished Guest Lecture

The Humanities Institute's Annual Distinguished Guest Lecture Series has been designed both to attract world-class academic speakers to Ireland and to raise the profile of the Institute's mission and programme.  Since 2005, a number of international experts have been invited to reflect on the contribution of the humanities and social sciences to the establishment of a knowledge society underpinned by sustainable economic, social and cultural growth.  Below, you can read details of all speakers and their lectures to date. All biographical details are correct at the time the lecture took place.

All lectures take place in room H.204, which is located on the second floor of the UCD Humanities Institute, unless otherwise stipulated.

Podcasts from the Distinguished Guest Lecture Series. 



Lecture 36

Professor Catherine Flynn, Associate Professor of English, Director of Berkeley Connect in English, Director of Irish Studies, University of California, Berkeley

“Circe” and the Phantasmagoria of Capitalism

Date: Thursday, 9 June 2022
Time: 5.30pm
Venue: Museum of Literature Ireland

(Photo credit Yanina Gotsulsky)

Catherine Flynn is Associate Professor of English at University of California, Berkeley where she works on Irish modernist literature and culture in a European avant-garde context and on critical theory. She is the author of James Joyce and the Matter of Paris (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and editor of the Cambridge Centenary Ulysses: The 1922 Text with Essays and Notes (Cambridge University Press, 2022), as well as the forthcoming New Joyce Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2022). She hosts the related podcast, U22. The Centenary Ulysses Podcast. She is also at work on a monograph about Flann O’Brien/Brian O’Nolan/Myles na gCopaleen and the young Irish State.

Talk Abstract

It is almost a century since Walter Benjamin used the term “phantasmagoria” to describe the largescale effects of the fetishized commodity. This talk reflects on the term from our contemporary critical moment through considering the “Circe” episode of Ulysses, James Joyce’s representation of the red-light district of Dublin. While the action of the episode is centered on Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, how can we understand its fleetingly represented other characters?

A podcast of the talk will be available soon.


Lecture 35

Professor Eva Horn, Professor of Modern German Literature, Institute for German Studies, University of Vienna

Being in the Air. An aesthetic and intellectual history of climate

Date: Wednesday. 20 October 2021
Time: 5-6pm
Venue: H204

Eva Horn is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on literature and art in the age of the Anthropocene; climate literature; modelling the future in literature and science; narratives of catastrophe; political secrets, conspiracy, treason. She is author of The Future as Catastrophe. Imagining Disaster in the Modern Age, New York: Columbia University Press 2018, with Hannes Bergthaller: The Anthropocene. Key Issues for the Humanities, New York/London: Routledge 2019; The Secret War. Treason, Espionage, and Modern Fiction, Evanston: Northwestern University Press 2013.

The Talk:

Current conceptualizations of climate and climate change are dominated by the abstract idea of climate as “the average weather.” This scientific understanding, I will argue, must be complemented by a cultural concept of climate which has a long tradition from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. In order to understand what it means to „be in the air“ culturally, politically, and medically, we need a cultural understanding of climate as an environment. My talk will give a few historical and literary examples of what it might mean to understand the air from the inside, as an element of individual, social, and cultural life.

podcast of the talk now available.


Lecture 34

Professor Gillian Rose, Professor of Human Geography, Head of School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Feeling the future city: digital devices, big data and being human

Date: ***Thursday, 19 November 2020/re-scheduled date***
Time: 5-6pm
: online webinar

Gillian RoseGillian Rose is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences. She is the author of Feminism and Geography (Polity, 1993), Doing Family Photography (Ashgate, 2010) and Visual Methodologies (Sage, fourth edition 2016), as well as many papers on images, visualising technologies and ways of seeing in urban, domestic and archival spaces. Her current research interests focus on contemporary digital visual culture and on digitally-mediated cities. A book co-authored with Monica Degen on The New Urban Aesthetic: Streets, Screens and Bodies will be out with Bloomsbury in 2021. She can be found on Twitter @ProfGillian

A podcast of the talk is available here.



Lecture 33

Professor Ute Frevert, Director, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

The History of Emotions:  Promises, Projects and Achievements

Date: Thursday, 9 May 2019
Time: 5.30 p.m.
: UCD Humanities Institute, H.204

Ute Frevert is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society. Between 2003 and 2007 she was professor of German history at Yale University and prior to that she taught History at the Universities of Konstanz, Bielefeld and the Free University in Berlin. Her research interests include the history of the emotions, social and cultural history of modern times, gender history and political history. Ute Frevert is honorary professor at the Free University in Berlin, a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the British Academy, and serves on several scientific boards.  She was awarded the prestigious Leibniz Prize in 1998 and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2016.



Lecture 32

Professor Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication, New York University

The Future of Sovereignty

Date: Thursday, 8 March 2018
Time: 6 p.m.
: ***VENUE CHANGE*** New: UCD Geary Institute, B.003

Arjun Appadurai is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Humboldt University (Berlin) and a Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin). He is the author of numerous books and articles on globalization, violence and on the politics of the future. His most recent book is Banking on Words; The Failure of Language in the Age of Derivative Finance (Chicago, 2015). He is a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lecture 31

Professor Ángela Cenarro, Universidad de Zaragoza, SpainProfessor Ángela Cenarro

Women, Gender and Violence in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

Date: Wednesday 25 March 2015
Time: 4 p.m.

Women’s experience during the Spanish Civil War was not only determined by the projects imposed by the Republican and the Francoist governments, but also by the violence unleashed by both rearguards after the failed coup d’etat in July 1936. Since they were the cornerstones of social and political reconstruction behind the frontline, as well as having their lives preconditioned by specific and opposed gender discourses, women were submitted in several ways to violence and control, despite the fact that violent processes were clearly asymmetric in their conception, procedures and consequences. On the Francoist side, women experienced rituals of humiliation strictly related to the control of their bodies and their reproductive condition, such as sexual violence, the shaving of their heads and the forced ingestion of castor oil. Despite the fact that this was not the case on the Republican side, women’s experiences and identities were determined by a left-wing gender discourse that created different ways of patriarchal submission. Because conservative women were supposed to be subjected to the Catholic Church, left-wing committees and militiamen, engaged in a revolutionary project since the summer of 1936, aimed to “liberate” them as a key element of the “purification” process that was considered an essential prerequisite for the construction of the emerging new order. Please click here for a copy of the poster.

Lecture 30

‌Professor Teresa Mangum, Director, Obermann Centre for Advanvced Studies, Univerity of Iowa

The Future of the Academic and Public Humanities: The Changing Academic Environment in the U.S.

Date: Friday 28 November 2014
Time: 10 a.m.

In the United States, the pressures on the academic humanities grow daily. Legislators demand utilitarian curricula; university administrators invest funds and faculty in the STEM disciplines; and students’ debt drives them to vocational courses. While defending the value of the arts, history, languages, literature, philosophy, and other traditional humanities disciplines, many North American academics are also beginning to experiment with imaginative collaborations—reaching out to other disciplines and inter-disciplines such as the health humanities, to public humanities organizations, to public policy makers, and to an often overlooked audience of non-academic readers and thinkers. Humanities centers can play a critical role in fostering interdisciplinary research and teaching, creative uses of technology, inter-institutional collaboration, and publicly engaged humanities scholarship and teaching. How can scholars who are accustomed to working alone and autonomously on individual projects adapt to collaborative projects and publicly engaged arts and community-based scholarship? One answer is to identify the disciplinary values we want to hold onto and to integrate those values when collaborative scholarship holds promise. The University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies offers one case study. Like many humanities centers, the Obermann Center strives to balance a commitment to support faculty and graduate arts, research, and scholarship with the demands and opportunities for higher education in a public university in the 21st century.

Respondents to Professor Mangum’s lecture are:
Professor Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama, UCD
Professor Daniel Carey, Director, Moore Institute, NUI Galway and Chair, Irish Humanities Alliance