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About Professor Michael Parker

Professor Michael Parker in his office

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, Modern Irish Drama: Politics, History, Gender’:   His next scheduled courses  are for January – March 2023 is entitled ‘Eastern European Poetry in Translation, and its Impact on Western Writing’  and for March-June ‘British Drama of the 1950s and 1960s’, both of which are face-to -face classes.

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 2023 from Palgrave Macmillan,  thirty 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.

International  Profile 

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.