Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX well represented at international conference in Wales

August 9th, 2019
L-r, Dr. Natasha Sumner, Dr. Michael Linkletter, Dr. Ranke de Vries, Dr. Anna Pagé, Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, Emmet Taylor , Dr. Kristen Mills, Kathleen Reddy, Darán Ó Dochartaigh, and Lelia Houbé (front)

What do two gruesome murders in colonial Nova Scotia and descriptions of medical conditions in early Irish manuscripts have in common? Answer: The XVIth International Congress of Celtic Studies of 2019.  

From July 22-26, StFX faculty, Drs. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, Senior Research Professor, Department of History, Michael Linkletter, Chair of the Celtic Studies Department, and Ranke de Vries, Celtic Studies Department, attended this conference at Bangor University in North Wales. Dr. de Vries presented a paper, titled “Medical Material in Early Irish Literary Sources,” and Drs. Stanley-Blackwell and Linkletter co-presented on “The Gavel, Gaelic, and the Grave: Murder in Nineteenth-century Nova Scotia.”

Dr. de Vries’s presentation was based on a broader research project, which explores medieval non-medical Irish manuscript sources for evidence about medical terminology, ailments, and disease patterns in medieval Ireland. Dr. Stanley-Blackwell and Dr. Linkletter’s presentation, which examines Gaelic language use in Nova Scotia’s early court system, stems from their SSHRC-funded research into the deathways of Nova Scotia’s early Gaels.  

This conference, which consisted of 131 sessions, in addition to five plenary lectures, attracted scholars from around the world “to discuss all things Celtic.” For a Canadian historian, the experience was particularly impressive. Dr. Stanley-Blackwell says, “The breadth of scholarship was sweeping and inspiring. Topics ranged from Welsh headstone inscriptions to Conchobar birth tales, post-tonic vowels in Cornish, Marian devotion in 20th-century Southern Hebrides, changelings in Irish storytelling, and contemporary Welsh and Irish language laws.”

The conference also epitomized the vibrancy and reach of StFX’s Celtic Studies program. Five of the presentations were given by alumni. In addition to Dr. Linkletter, they included Dr. Natasha Sumner of Harvard University and Dr. Anna Pagé of the University of Vienna, as well as graduate students, Emmet Taylor and Kathleen Reddy, who are enrolled in PhD programs at the University of Cork and University of Glasgow respectively. Also in attendance were two former members of the StFX Celtic Studies Department, Dr. Kristen Mills and Darán Ó Dochartaigh, and undergraduate Celtic Studies student, Lelia Houbé.  

Says Dr. Linkletter, “The conference meets every four years. It provides us with a welcome opportunity to reconnect with some of our former students who are making a mark internationally.”  According to Dr. de Vries, member of the Congress’s International Committee, the next conference will be hosted by Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2023.  

 

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