Ellen Howley from University College Dublin was a 2014 programme winner in the Literature category. Her work paper was titled “Seamus Heaney’s Plateaus: Transitions between air, ground and underground, and the relationship between the local and the imaginative.”
Returning from Scotland to Dublin in 2016 to undertake PhD at Dublin City University, Ellen continues her passion for literary research. She completed a Masters in Modern and contemporary literature at the University of Edinburgh and spent a year working in a tech start-up in Glasgow before returning to academia to pursue her love of poetry.
Her research investigates connections between contemporary Irish and Caribbean poetry, focusing on the work of acclaimed poets including Lorna Goodison, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Derek Walcott. She is particularly interested in how these poets think about their colonial past, seeking the similarities that draw their work together as well as the contrasts which distinguish each poets’ voice.
In addition to her love of research, Ellen is delighted that the PhD has given her the opportunity to travel to conferences to present her work. In 2017 she presented at conferences in Ireland, Paris and Prague and hopes to continue to engage with other researchers globally at such events. Elsewhere, she was selected as runner-up in DCU’s Tell It Straight final, a competition which challenges researchers to present their research to a non-specialist audience in just five minutes. Her experience taking part in the UPresent portion of the Undergraduate Awards gave her the confidence needed to take on the task.
Ellen brings her love of literature to her life outside of university, attending a monthly feminist book club and various events on Dublin’s vibrant literary scene. She was lucky enough to hear both Arundhati Roy and Mohsin Hamid speak in Dublin last year as well as attending a lecture by Ireland’s current Professor of Poetry, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
Recognising the importance of an active lifestyle, especially for a PhD student, Ellen recently took up running and managed to complete her first ever 5km race in Dublin last summer. She also joined DCU’s tennis club but reckons a spot at this year’s Wimbledon tournament is unlikely!
She will continue her research over the next couple of years and hopes to visit the Caribbean at some point before submitting the final thesis.
For me, the Undergraduate Awards was a wonderful experience. The summit was an opportunity to make connections with students from around the world and gave me a taste for communicating my research both to researchers in my field and outside of it. I would encourage everyone to apply.
Read Ellen’s paper on the Undergraduate Awards Library