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About Professor Michael Parker

Professor Michael Parker in his office

Part-Time Tutor. Department of Continuing Education, Oxford University. Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University

Michael Parker works primarily as a freelance writer and lecturer, with specialist interests in Irish Literature, Romantic Literature, Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Poetry, Postcolonial Literatures, and Literature in Translation. He is also currently employed as a part-time tutor by Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education, where he has run weekly classes on Contemporary Irish Fiction,  Thomas Hardy,  and British and Irish Short Stories. He has contributed also to day events, and to the 2016 Oxford University Summer School, where he ran a week-long seminar on Seamus Heaney and European tradition. In July 2016 he was appointed Visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University for a five-year period, where he contributes to the work of the Poetry Centre.

A reputation as one of the foremost scholars on the work of Seamus Heaney led the Irish Literary Society to approach him to organise and present ‘Noli Timere: Reflections on the Life and Work of Seamus Heaney’​ in the week following the poet’s death. A celebratory event included readings, commentary and film, jointly delivered with Stephen Regan, it was subsequently re-presented 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. Twenty-five years after the publication of Seamus Heaney: The Making of the Poet, a new study of the poet’s entire oeuvre will appear from Palgrave Macmillan. Seamus Heaney: Legacies, Afterlives  will incorporate extensive archival research carried out in Ireland, Britain and the United States, and offer close, contextualised readings of the poems, plays and translations.

For many years in the late 1970s and 1980s, Michael directed summer schools for the British Council mainly in Poland, but later in Slovakia and Slovenia. Over the past decade 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, made lecture tours of Hungary and Scandinavia, and organised two major public events for the British Academy.

A defining experience in his career came in January 2012 when he was appointed to a Visiting Professorship in Irish Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. This quickened his interest in working abroad for longer spells, and led directly to his decision to quit his full-time UK-based university post the following year. From August to December 2015, he served as Fort Visiting Scholar in European Studies at Columbus State University, GA, teaching courses on Modern Irish Drama and English Literature 1890-1945.  This, along with an earlier Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship, enabled him to develop contacts with  leading American academics. More recently, from November-December 2017, he was a Visiting Scholar at Gothenburg University in Sweden, to which he will be returning in April 2018.

In the longer term he plans to continue combining teaching with research, and seek opportunities to utilise his skills and experience in universities overseas.