I took up my current position as Lecturer in English at UL in 2012, having previously lectured and pursued postdoctoral research at UCC, TCD, and QUB. I’d originally traveled to Ireland from the US as an impressionable, young study abroad student with a keen interest in Irish literature and culture. My experience at Trinity, where I was taught by acclaimed scholars and writers, including Terence Brown and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, inspired me so much that I returned a year later to complete a PhD on the often overlooked Anglo-Irish clergyman and writer, Charles Robert Maturin (1780-1824).

My research focuses on Irish fiction in the long eighteenth century, with particular emphases on gothic literature, Irish women’s writing, and print culture. I’m especially interested in literature that might be considered ‘forgotten’ and the processes by which certain texts fall into neglect. My first book, Charles Robert Maturin and the Haunting of Irish Romantic Fiction (2011), repositioned Maturin – and gothic literature – at the heart of Irish literary production in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. My most recent monograph, The Gothic Novel in Ireland, 1760-1830 (Manchester University Press, in press), considers the various reasons behind scholarly neglect of a whole body of Irish gothic literature published at the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. Much of this fiction was extremely popular and widely read in its day but is now dismissed as culturally insignificant. My research seeks to rehabilitate these works, emphasising and outlining their importance to a complete understanding of Irish Romantic literature.

I’m currently working on a new project exploring gothic fiction produced by Irish émigré authors in early-nineteenth century London. I’m concentrating particularly on the publications of the Minerva Press, an infamous publisher of popular fiction condemned by contemporaries as literary ‘trash’. I’m also in the planning stages of a project exploring literary, cultural, and medical constructions of breastfeeding in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Ireland.

My journey to this point in my career has, in many ways, been an easy one. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I was fortunate not to experience long periods of unemployment or exploitative contracts in the years following the completion of my PhD. Moreover, despite the horror stories I’ve heard of discrimination against female academics, I’ve never been a victim of overt sexism in the workplace. Indeed, I’ve benefited from excellent maternity leave policies and mechanisms designed to advance women in the workplace, including many of the provisions made under UL’s membership in the Athena Swan Charter. But my career has been informed by the realities of being a newly minted academic in the post-Celtic Tiger era, and a female one to boot: short-term contracts, often at a remove from partners established elsewhere; increasing pressure to produce despite growing teaching and administrative loads; poor maternity leave provision; and internalised feelings of inadequacy, at home and at work. All of these things can mitigate against actively pursuing gender equality in the workplace, but forging research and support networks with colleagues and linking in with groups such as Academic Manel Watch Ireland and Waking the Feminists can be really empowering and enabling.

Dr Christina Morin is a Lecturer in English in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Limerick

 

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