Dr Marie-Louise Coolahan, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, has been awarded the highly prestigious Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council. It is the first such award ever made to an Irish researcher in any field of literature, and the only award made in Ireland this year in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
The award, of just under €2m, will fund Dr Coolahan and a team of five postdoctoral researchers for a five-year period on her project ‘RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700’.
Dr Coolahan’s project will produce a new, large-scale understanding of how women’s writing circulated in the early modern English-speaking world, using the results to analyse how texts, ideas and reputations gained traction.
Dr Coolahan says “While there has been an increasing number of case studies on individual women writers in recent years, we have lacked an understanding of how and where women’s writing made an impact on a broader scale. “
The period in question, from 1550-1700, is particularly challenging because writing continued to circulate in manuscript, via handwritten copies, as well as in print. For women, in particular, manuscript circulation was more attractive as it offered a means to circumvent social anxieties about female authorship.
NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne congratulated Dr Coolahan and said “This is only the second time ever that a researcher in humanities in an Irish University has secured an ERC award. It is, as such, a remarkable achievement, not only for Dr Marie-Louise Coolahan but for the Discipline of English and for NUI Galway as whole.”
Although focused on the English-speaking world, RECIRC will attend to the international context by including writers who were read in Ireland and Britain as well as women who were born and resident in those countries.
Dr Coolahan said “RECIRC will provide a comprehensive view of how texts were used and re-used, and of how gender shaped ideas about authorship. The methodologies we develop are designed to be transferable to other languages and geographies, enabling future work on an even larger European scale.”