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History professor receives Oxford fellowship for one-year academic residency

| Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Notre Dame professor Dr. Patrick Griffin has been awarded the Harold Vyvyan Visiting Professor of American History fellowship by the University of Oxford.

“It is really gratifying and is a great honor,” Griffin said. ”I admire the works of many of the previous scholars and professors who have been appointed this fellowship in the past. To be counted among their number is an honor and is perhaps one of the most astounding moments in my career.”

Courtesy of Patrick Griffin
Dr. Patrick Griffin will spend the next academic year in residency at Oxford University after receiving the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History fellowship. Griffin specializes in the intersection of colonial American and early modern Irish and British history.

The Harold Vyvyan Visiting Professor of American History fellowship is awarded every year to a prominent American professor by the University of Oxford. The fellowship involves leading lectures, conducting research and participating in seminars at both Oxford’s Rothermore American Institute and Queen’s College.

Griffin, a professor of history and director of the Keough Institute of Irish Studies, said he was both shocked and delighted upon receiving the fellowship.

“It was an announcement that came by email. The fellowship is not one that you apply for, you are elected to be a fellow, which was unbeknownst to me,” Griffin said. “I found out of the blue and received an email telling me that I’ve been awarded a fellowship.”

Griffin will begin his fellowship this September and will remain at Oxford for the duration of the academic year.

This will not be Griffin’s first experience at the University of Oxford. Griffin has led a number of lectures and participated in seminars at Oxford University in the past. Additionally, he has coordinated a number of graduate programs with Oxford for students in the departments of history and English.

When asked how he plans to utilize his time, Griffin said he intends to take full advantage of Oxford’s resources as well as the people he will be surrounded by.

“I plan on taking advantage of the very active intellectual life at the University,“ Griffin said. ”I am looking forward to participating in their seminars and workshops as well as getting to know the graduate students in history and working with them on their projects.“

When asked what makes Oxford’s resources so unique, Griffin emphasized it is not a matter of the tangible resources the University has to offer. Rather, it is the experience in itself that elicits the most viable resources: time and social environment.

“I have two main resources from this experience. One resource is time. This resource of unfettered time will allow me to think and to develop ideas, read and get my new project conceptualized,” Griffin said. “The other resource is the environment at Oxford. I am going to be in such an interesting intellectual place, an intellectual milieu, that I hope will encourage new ideas to gel and encourage new ways of thinking about these rather old problems.”

At Oxford, Griffin will embark on writing a new book about the role Irish immigrants had in building New York City. Specifically, he hopes to understand how their influence led New York City to become the cultural phenomena of the world.

“I am fascinated with New York and how New York developed into the city that we know it to be today.” Griffin said. ”I will primarily focus on Irish immigrants in New York and how they established and quite literally built the city with their hands. More importantly, I want to look into the sensibilities and their way of thinking … I want to examine how these factors played a role in creating America and its urban culture.”

Griffin’s fellowship will allow him to have access to a greater variety of contexts as well as a wider range of insights to help him get his project in the works. He said he will continue to work on his new project in the years following his fellowship at the Keough Institute of Irish Studies.

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