O’Toole, one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals, is teaching at Princeton this semester including the course, “Modern Irish Theatre: Oscar Wilde to Martin McDonagh to Riverdance.” Robert Fagles, for whom the annual Memorial Lecture is named, was a member of the Princeton faculty for 42 years in the Department of Comparative Literature and a renowned translator of Greek classics. His critically acclaimed translations of Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” became best-sellers.
In the Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture, O’Toole suggests that the true legacy of Irish Catholic thought lies in three profound ideas, each of which was declared a heresy by the official Church.
As a drama critic, O’Toole has written for The Irish Times, New York Daily News, Sunday Tribune (Dublin), and In Dublin Magazine. His books on theater span a wide range of topics, from his biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan to theater currently appearing on Irish stages. He is Assistant Editor, columnist and feature writer for The Irish Times. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, O’Toole was named one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals” by The Observer. He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, and Journalist of the Year in 2010 from TV3 Media Awards.
O’Toole’s most recent project, History of Ireland in 100 Objects, will cover 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years. It will be published as a conventional book by the Royal Irish Academy and will also be available as a free iPad and iPhone application.
O’Toole’s visiting professorship is made possible through funding from Leonard L. Milberg, Princeton Class of 1953, a generous supporter of the arts and cultural studies who in 2011 donated an extensive collection of prose by Irish writers to the University, including more than 1,700 books, manuscripts, portraits, audio-visual materials and other items that illustrate the richness and vitality of Irish writing from 1798 to the present. Milberg’s donation of the Irish prose collection was made in Fagles’ honor.
The Fund for Irish Studies, chaired by Princeton professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” Its mission is to coordinate and expand existing courses taught by present members of the faculty and to offer a series of public lectures, literary readings, conferences, exhibitions, screenings and theatrical performances.
Upcoming lectures in the series include:
- 2012 Tony Award-winner Enda Walsh “In Conversation with Lewis Center Chair and Senior Lecturer in Theater Michael Cadden,” April 5
- Performance by Len Graham and Brian O’Hairt of “In Two Minds: Songs, Music and Dance from the Irish Tradition,” April 12
- R.F. Foster on “Making a Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1916,” April 19
In addition, the Program in Theater will present a production of Woman and Scarecrow by Irish dramatist Marina Carr on March 8 through 15, the powerful story of a woman facing death, who looks back over her life and asks what could have been.