I received my PhD in modern British and Irish history from the University of Wisconsin in 1988 under the direction Professor James S. Donnelly, Jr. After a year as a visiting assistant professor at Marquette University, I joined the faculty of the History Department of Fordham University in 1988, was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor in the spring of 1994, and promoted to the rank of professor in the spring of 1998. I currently serve as chair of the department.
A revised version of my dissertation was published in 1994 by Clarendon Press, The United Irishmen: Popular Politics in Ulster and Dublin, 1791-98, and has been very widely and favorably reviewed. It went through two printings before it appeared in paperback in 1998. Essentially it is a study of the intersection of the radical Enlightenment and rising anti-colonialism in Ireland during the era of the French Revolution, and how this translated into an unprecedented campaign of mass political mobilization and the democratization of political culture. I have published articles and book chapters on a range of topics, including historiography, political rhetoric and representation, and gender, as well as aspects of early Irish republicanism.
My major research interests have broadened considerably since my work on the United Irishmen though they are still largely concerned with the construction of national identity and notions of citizenship. My current book-length project explores the gendered images in which the nation and the republican struggle were exalted and how these contributed to the construction of masculine and feminine civic identities in Ireland from the period of the 1790s and the emergence of republicanism to the Irish War of Independence and Civil War which concluded in 1923. I am also beginning a new project on colonialism and Irish golf. As elsewhere in the Empire, the first golf course in Ireland was built by the British army. And while for over a century thereafter golf remained the preserve and a source of bonding for the Anglo-Irish elite, in recent decades it has enjoyed massive popularity and considerable care and attention from the state. I feel particularly equipped to handle this project as I play an 8 handicap.
The relatively marginalized field of Irish studies, often regarded as identity-based scholarship providing little interest to those outside the field or ethnic enclave, has impelled me towards more interdisciplinary and comparative approaches. In 1999 I completed with anthropologist Marilyn Cohen a volume entitled Reclaiming Gender: Transgressive Identities in Modern Ireland published by St. Martin's Press. This volume seeks to "reclaim gender" first, by rescuing it from the "herstory" which has characterized much of the previous contributions on gender in Ireland, and second, by mainstreaming gender analysis into some of the central questions of Irish studies—the state and nationalism, political economy, culture and religion, and the diaspora. Contributors are drawn from a variety of disciplines—anthropology, literary and cultural studies, history, sociology, and geography.
That same interdisciplinary characterized my work as co-editor of Eire-Ireland: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Irish Studies, from 1996-2001. And my commitment to interdisciplinary and scholarly exchange is underscored by my activity in the American Conference for Irish Studies, initially as a conference participant, and lately as a member of the executive committee, serving as history representative, secretary, vice-president, president, and currently as past president and international representative, as well as organizer of the 1998 Mid-Atlantic regional conference and the 2001 national conference. I have also been involved with the New York community of Irish scholars, and served as chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Irish Studies. I am frequently invited to address various Irish-American cultural organizations in the area. My work in disseminating historical scholarship among the broader public was acknowledged with a commendation from the City of New York in 1998.
At Fordham, at the undergraduate level, I teach courses in modern British and Irish history in addition to the core course—the West from the Enlightenment to the Present. I have also co-taught Feminist Theories in Global Perspective for the Women’s Studies Program. Feminist theory strongly informs not only my current research interests, but also the courses I have most recently developed for our graduate program.