'GENUINE AND GROUNDBREAKING'
Herron recognized for research in Irish literature
By Alexa DeCarr
ECU News Services
An English professor at East Carolina University is being recognized this month for his research and published works on the literary and cultural history of the late 16th and early 17th century Ireland.
Associate Professor Thomas Herron has received a University Research/Creative Activity Award in the Five-Year Achievement category. Since coming to ECU in 2005, Herron has published numerous books, articles, essays and reviews. He has organized and participated in several conferences in his field of study.
“(Herron) is one of the most learned and intelligent schools of his generation,” said J.B. Lethbridge, a lecturer at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, in his nomination letter. “His influence on his chosen fields, Spenser studies and studies of Ireland in the Renaissance, has grown profound.”
Between 2005 and 2011, Herron single-handedly organized a series of ECU lectures on medieval Irish history, literature and archeology. Many of the lecturers came from abroad and were hosted by Herron’s own family.
His research involving the life and literature of English poet Edmund Spenser is especially reknown, including his first monograph, “Spenser’s Irish Work,” published in 2007.
Christopher Burlinson, director of studies in English at Jesus College in Cambridge, England, called Herron’s work “a study which made a genuine and groundbreaking intervention in what might have seemed to be an already rather abundant critical field.”
This spring, Herron is one of the curators of an exhibit on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland,” focuses on the Irish upper class during the 16th and 17th centuries and uncovers their relationship with the English newcomers. It displays the ways in which the two cultures influenced each other through architecture, literature and the arts.
Herron received his undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, where he developed his passion for Irish culture and the Middle Ages and studied the works of Spenser as well as poets William Shakespeare and Christopher Middleton. He acquired his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
At ECU, he teaches courses in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature and recently took a class to see the play “Henry V” in Washington, D.C.
“I love to share my enthusiasm with my students,” Herron said.
He also edits the multidisciplinary journal “Explorations in Renaissance Culture.”