2016 Plummer Lecture:  Roy Foster

I Am Changing and Things Around Me Change”: The Making of a Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1916


April 14, 2016, 5 p.m.Roy Foster
Georgia State University Student Center, Speaker’s Auditorium
44 Courtland St. S.E.

This year’s Plummer Lecture, presented in cooperation with the Consulate General of Ireland/Atlanta, is part of a worldwide commemoration marking the centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising, an event comparable to the US Bicentennial celebration in national importance. Professor Foster’s lecture will also serve as the keynote address for the Southern regional meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies.

Roy Foster is Oxford University’s Carroll Professor of Irish History. Author of many books, including a two-volume biography of W. B. Yeats, biographies of Charles Stewart Parnell and Lord Randolph Churchill, and a history of modern Ireland, Foster is also one of the most prominent Irish public intellectuals. In his recent book Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 (Oxford UP, 2014), he explores the pre-history of the Rising, the interconnected networks of avant-garde thinking and cultural activity in which often unlikely middle-class young people were radicalized in the years leading up to 1916. These included, in addition to Irish nationalist groups such as the Gaelic League, elements not always associated with physical force Irish republicanism, including feminists, socialists, vegetarians, and secularists. This diversity of sources informing the radical thought of the revolutionary generation is worth remembering in the multicultural Ireland of today, Foster suggests, because the “mature revolution was far more monocultural, and more ethnically defined, than the pre-revolution.” His talk should appeal to anyone with an interest in Ireland, politics, history, literature, biography, and the process by which cultural agitation can lead to outright revolution—and revolutionary movements can become reactionary ones.

A related event will be presented on Friday, April 15, at 2 p.m. in the Speaker’s Auditorium. Irish historian Roisín Higgins, a Senior Lecturer in History at Teesside University, will deliver a talk entitled “‘What to Do with Their Lovely Past?’: The Politics of Commemorating the Easter Rising.” Dr. Higgins, who specializes in the politics of historical memory, is the author of Transforming 1916: Meaning, Memory and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Easter Rising (Cork UP, 2012). She is currently serving as the historical advisor for the Commemoration Zone of the permanent exhibition in the General Post Office in Dublin, a focal point of the 1916 Centenary commemoration.

This project is supported by Georgia Humanities through appropriations made by the Georgia General Assembly. Other partners include the GSU Graduate English Association, Georgia State University, and Emory University.

FREE and open to the public!