This week on We the Humanities we are joined by Dr. Niamh NicGhabhann, course director of the MA Festive Arts programme at the Irish World Academic of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. The post below is full of links representative of the wide array of work Niamh has done in the field--take a look and join in on the conversation starting on Monday, February 1!
Hello! My name is Niamh NicGhabhann, and I’m delighted, and a bit nervous, to be taking on the We The Humanities account for the week. I am the course director of the MA Festive Arts programme at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick (you can watch me talk about this here) . This MA programme engages with festival as a social phenomenon, as an artistic practice and as part of the landscape of arts management. My leap into the world of Festive Arts and an Academy of Music and Dance was something of an unexpected pirouette, as my background involves a BA in English Literature and History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College Dublin, and a PhD in architectural history also from Trinity College Dublin. It has been a challenge, but I find it very stimulating and exciting, and I am finding that it is informing my own research into 19th and 20th century architectural and urban history in many ways.
My PhD explored the restoration of medieval buildings in Ireland from 1789-1915, and formed part of a larger IRC-funded project. This was led by Professor Roger Stalley and was titled ‘Reconstructions of the Gothic Past’. I have just published my first monograph based on this research, which such a snappy title - Medieval Ecclesiastical Buildings in Ireland 1789-1915 - Building on the Past (shameless plug). I’m currently expanding this research focus (and marrying it with my current academic position) to involve a broader exploration of the history of public space in Ireland, and particularly histories of gatherings, parades, processions and the production and negotiation of public space, with reference to ideas of gender and social class in particular. Between my BA and PhD, I worked in the area of museums (with the National Gallery of Ireland) and in a contemporary commercial gallery (the wonderful mother’s tankstation in Dublin), and in arts management more generally, particularly with the very great Open House Dublin architectural festival. Following my PhD, I worked as a postdoc with University College Dublin on the Monastic Ireland project (you can read about this here) and watch a short video with the e-learning brainchild Danielle O’Donovan here, as well as teaching in a number of art history departments, and setting up a public history company with three colleagues in UCD. With this company, we were able to bid for public etenders, and this resulted in a major project on the history of the former asylum/ mental hospital in Monaghan (you can read about this here) This made me very interested in the potential for history start-ups, and in diverse career supports for humanities graduates more generally, something that I am currently exploring as a research interest. I’m interested in interdisciplinary work more generally, and am currently developing a broadening module at the University of Limerick on the subject of placemaking.
I love teaching, and nothing perks me up more after a day of mind-numbing admin than a day with my great students. I do love being hot on the archival trail of one project or another, and hope to develop a better admin/teaching/ research balance (hmmm… doesn’t that sound familiar). I’m a (very/too) active tweeter (@Niamh_NicGhabh), I write a blog and a Tinyletter newsletter for the MA Festive Arts programme. I love live music, seeing new places, learning and singing folk songs, the odd Netflix evening on the sofa and hanging out with good people. Things that I hope to talk about during my week include academic insecurities, forging interdisciplinary pathways, ambition, and, like many previous curators, making it all work and making time for life as well. Looking forward to chatting to you all.