This panel considers the social and cultural context of Deevy’s life and writing. Thank you to Dr Eileen Kearney (Paper 1), Dr Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin (Paper 2), and Aaron Kent (Paper 3) for providing such interesting papers for consideration.
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Title: “Why would anyone be interested in my old aunt Teresa?”
Dr Eileen Kearney
In this paper, Dr Eileen Kearney reflects on her research undertaken in the early 1980s which includes interviews with friends, relatives and literary contemporaries of Teresa Deevy at a time when very few Irish theatre scholars were familiar with Deevy’s work. Recounting interviews with insightful and enthusiastic Deevy supporters such as John Jordan and Seán Dunne, the paper contextualises attitudes and early scholarship analysing Deevy’s work in the decades immediately subsequent to her death.
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Eileen Kearney has been a leading Irish theatre scholar and director since the 1980s, when her re-discovering playwright Teresa Deevy prompted years of publishing and lecturing about bringing Irish women playwrights into the limelight. She has directed productions and taught university theatre all over the country, including Pomona College, Santa Clara University, Gonzaga University, Webster University, University of Texas in Austin, Texas A&M University, and University of Colorado Denver. At the playwright Patricia Burke-Brogan’s request, she directed the 2013 American premiere of Stained Glass at Samhain, which addresses the horrific Magdalene Laundries. She acted in New York and Los Angeles before university teaching. She has published numerous articles in Irish and theatre journals, focusing on women’s contributions to the field. A self-proclaimed “yarnaholic,” she has won blue ribbons for knitting and weaving, and for ten years she volunteered her time teaching knitting at The Gathering Place, a day center for homeless women in Denver, Colorado. Her book, Women of Ireland: 20th Century Dramatists, 1908-2001 (co-edited with Charlotte Headrick) was published by Syracuse University Press in 2014, and is now in its second printing. She has been a member of American Conference for Irish Studies since 1985. She is married to Dan Koetting (Yale School of Drama, 1974 M.F.A.). After full careers of university theatre teaching, directing, and set and lighting design, they both are enjoying retirement in Eugene, Oregon, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.