Tutor, Department of Continuing Education, Oxford University. Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University
Michael Parker is a freelance writer and researcher, who works as a tutor in Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education (OUDCE). As well as delivering weekly classes to adult learners, he contributes to day schools and to the yearly Oxford University Summer School for Adults.
Since joining the department, he has run weekly courses on Contemporary Irish Fiction, Thomas Hardy, British and Irish Short Stories, Postcolonial Women’s Fiction and Seamus Heaney’s Translations. His next scheduled course for January – March 2020 is entitled ‘Modern Irish Drama: politics, History, Gender’: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/modern-irish-drama?code=O19P413LTW
Since July 2016 he has had an association with Oxford Brookes University as a Visiting Professor, supporting the work of its Poetry Centre.
Current Research on Seamus Heaney
He is currently completing a substantial new study of Seamus Heaney’s entire oeuvre. Seamus Heaney: Legacies, Afterlives will appear in 2020 from Palgrave Macmillan, twenty-six years after the publication of Seamus Heaney: The Making of the Poet (see Publications). This incorporates extensive archival research carried out in Ireland, Britain and the United States, and offer close, contextualised readings of the poems, plays and translations.
Michael’s reputation as one of the foremost scholars on Heaney’s work led the Irish Literary Society to commission Noli Timere: Reflections on the Life and Work of Seamus Heaney in the week following the poet’s death. This celebratory event included readings, commentary and film, jointly delivered with Stephen Regan and Esther Armstrong. Subsequently it was presented also at the National Library of Ireland in December 2014, and the following March at the SOFEIR/ French Irish Studies conference in Paris and Oxford Literary Festival.
A Holding Field: Seamus Heaney and Translation premiered in the National Library of Ireland in October 2018. A multimedia presentation, like its predecessor, it reflects the wide variety of Heaney’s translation work, involving texts from Latin, Greek, Irish, Anglo-Saxon, French, Italian and Polish literature. Its next performance will be at the Seamus Heaney Home Place in Bellaghy on Saturday, 8 February 2020.
Between 1976 and the 1990s, Michael directed summer schools for the British Council in Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. More recently he has received frequent invitations to give lectures and plenary addresses at events in London, Oxford, Durham, Aberdeen, Dublin, Belfast, Paris, Rennes, Strasbourg, Prague, Gdansk, Tromso, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Savannah and Atlanta, and organised two major public events for the British Academy.
A defining experience in his career came in January 2012 with his appointment as a Visiting Professor in Irish Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. This quickened his interest in working abroad, and led to the decision in 2013 to quit his full-time UK-based university post. From August to December 2015, he served as Fort Visiting Scholar at Columbus State University, GA, teaching courses on Modern Irish Drama and English Literature 1890-1945. In late 2017 and Spring 2018, he was a Visiting Scholar at Gothenburg University in Sweden.
In the longer term he plans to continue combining teaching with research, and seek opportunities to utilise his skills and experience in universities overseas.