Fearghal Duffy: “An Opening Onto Other Possible Worlds”

Lia Fail

There seems to be a very strong and persistent atavistic impulse which impels people to rediscover in the past lost values which will somehow ameliorate the perceived ills of the present. In this blog post I want to consider the potentiality of nostalgia for eco-critical purposes and to query what value, if any, there is in looking to an imagined ‘Golden Age’ to solve contemporary environmental and ecological ills. The recent controversy… Read More

Fearghal Duffy: Metamorphoses in Irish Myths


We who are involved in this project have been encountering the word ‘metamorphosis’ on a daily basis for several months now that it had risked becoming one of those words, which when it becomes overly familiar, its essence and significance becomes somehow diluted.  So I thought it might be useful to present a few instances of metamorphoses from the early Irish myths and sagas to re-freshen the imaginative potential of the term…. Read More

Fearghal Duffy: To Woo a Goddess

Sovereignty Goddess

In Dead Poets Society Robin Williams plays an English teacher, John Keating, who challenges his students to tell him why language was invented. None of them are quite sure how to answer the question but one student suggests that it was in order to communicate. But, this according to Keating is wrong. Language was invented, he informs them, ‘to woo women’. The language he specifically has in mind is poetry. To woo… Read More

Fearghal Duffy: The Scribe in the Woods


  There is a beautiful little two-quatrain poem which is found in the margin of a folio in the St. Gall manuscript that in English is often called ‘The Scribe in the Woods’. In this poem we have a scribe who finds or imagines himself to be out-of-doors writing poetry in a forest. This translation is taken from Gerard Murphy’s collection of medieval Irish poetry, Early Irish Lyrics. A Hedge of trees… Read More

Fearghal Duffy: Rooting for Roots


I would like to consider the quote from Andy Goldsworthy which Louise cited in her last blog. “We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” ― Andy Goldsworthy. But first, I want to go back to the question of ‘what is nature?’ The literary critic Raymond Williams made… Read More

Fearghal Duffy: Creative Ecocriticism


My research takes an ecocritical approach to medieval Irish literature. The most basic definition of ecocriticism is that it is the study of the relationship between literature and the environment. It seeks to make the category of nature as central to the humanities as class, race, and gender are at present. Ecocriticism does not simply involve documenting and discussing nature imagery as an object of study and placing it in a historical… Read More