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Geraldine HigginsAssociate Professor


Geraldine Higgins specializes in twentieth-century Irish literature and culture, modern British literature, archival studies and public exhibitions. She joined the Emory faculty in 1996 after completing a B.A. in English and History at Trinity College Dublin and a D.Phil. in English at Trinity College, Oxford. In 2014, she was awarded the Massee-Martin/NEH Distinguished Teaching Chair for the term of 2014-2018.

Professor Higgins is the Director of Emory's Irish Studies Program and of the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature. She collaborates often with Emory’s Rose Library to bring Irish writers and scholars to give readings and guest lectures.

Higgins’s research focuses on the Irish Revival and on literature connected to the thirty-year Irish conflict known as the Troubles. Anchored by Ireland’s two Nobel poet laureates, W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, her publications examine the connections between art and violence, literature and history, and poetry and popular culture.


  • B.A., Trinity College, Dublin
  • D.Phil., Trinity College, Oxford


  • Heroic Revivals from Carlyle to Yeats (Palgrave: 2012) shows how inherited ideas of heroic identity were modified by key writers in this period of cultural ferment when modern Ireland was in Yeats’s famous phrase, ‘soft wax.’ The final chapter considers how ‘Was it for this?’ a line from Yeats’s poem ‘September 1913,’ came to prominence again during Ireland’s devastating financial crisis in 2010. Yeats’s centrality to popular and political discourse is also examined in "The Quotable Yeats: Modified in the guts of the living," South Carolina Review 32:1 (Fall 1999), “W.B. Yeats and Popular Culture,” B. Yeats in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and “News that Stays New: The Future Life of W.B. Yeats” Poetry Ireland Review. 116 (Fall 2015).
  • Brian Friel (Northcote House: 2009), is a critical study of Ireland's most influential and important modern playwright. It places Friel’s work within the context of Irish storytelling and considers his position as a writer from the north of Ireland negotiating between the responsibilities of art and the demands of violent conflict.
  • Seamus Heaney in Context(Cambridge University Press: 2021), Ed. Featuring 32 original essays by an international field of scholars, Seamus Heaney in Context offers new pathways to explore the places, times and influences that made Seamus Heaney one of the world’s best-known poets writing in English today.

Brian Friel Seamus-Heaney-in-Context_Cover-.jpgHeroic Revivals from Carlyle to Yeats


  • Curator, National Library of Ireland Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again.
    Open at the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin from 2018- 2023, Listen Now Again (reviewed here in the New York Times) will then move permanently to the National Library of Ireland.
  • Curator, Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens Feb-Nov 2014.
    The first international exhibition dedicated to Heaney after his death in 2013 (reviewed here in the Irish Times), this exhibition featured materials from the Rose Library’s Irish literature collections.

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