I probably shouldn’t try to blog about an entire year only hours after I’ve submitted final grades; I have that exhausted giddiness that accompanies the completion of another academic year. This has been a year of firsts, of new discoveries and new directions, and of revisiting traditions, forgotten passions, and old friends. It’s been a good year.
I passed summer 2016 with family (Disney Cruise), in the garage (various little projects) and in intense writing with Matt Levay (our self-titled collective was called “Do the Write Thing: A Stover-Levay Joint”). Sundays were spent in the back yard, where my new, crudely constructed bar proved the perfect complement well into the autumn.
For the fall semester 2016, I taught an introductory survey to modern Europe, a new course on the global history of war and revolution, and a transnational history of the First World War, which I first delivered in 2015. Each continued to challenge my perceptions of the past, while students brought energy, curiosity, and insight that inspired me to dig a little deeper in preparing each lecture.
I was off to London quite early in the semester to conduct research and present my work at the Voices of the Home Fronts conference, hosted by The National Archives, Kew. My paper, “A Transnational View of Irish Dissent During the Great War,” examined various perceptions of Irish nationalism, and the Easter Rising and subsequent revolution, throughout Europe – particularly in France and the Francophone world.
Researching this paper over the previous year, I found that Sinn Fein kept close tabs on European public opinion of Ireland and the Irish Revolution during after the First World War. One collection at the National Library of Ireland (which I consulted in 2015) contained receipts from a French press tracking company, which I used to map the geography of publication on Irish issues in French newspapers. I’m working to expand this paper to an article for publication.
I’m very grateful to Owen Davies and Sarah Lloyd for continuing to include me in the the Everyday Lives in War center, based at the University of Hertfordshire. Of course, Ciara Meehan is solely responsible for allowing me to participate, and for involving me in the history activities at Hertfordshire. My good friend was recently made Head of the History Group (Head of School, or Chair) at Herts, illustrating her talent and leadership.
Traveling to London also allowed me to visit with several old friends, including James and Susie Murphy-O’Conner, Hal Hodson and Conor Logue, and my former student, Sam Simpson, who came over from Maynooth University in Ireland.
I met Emmett Murphy-O’Connor, James and Susie’s first-born son, and caught up a bit en route to central London, where James and I reunited over liters of German beer at the Bavarian Beerhouse. As always, James brought me right into his inner-circle, and it was great to see Chris Lock, Sam & co., as we celebrated Chris’s engagement. (Note to self: repay James for the Uber back to Brentford).
Later in the week I ventured to Hammersmith to meet up with Hal Hodson and Connor Logue, both of whom relocated from Boston to London in the past year. We met at The Andover Arms for dinner and a drink, talked football days at Trinity, previous meet-ups in Boston, how the Patriots were going all-the-way (correct prediction), about Logue’s recent wedding, and about Hal’s new position as technology correspondent with The Economist. (Note to self: repay Hal and Logue for the Uber back to Brentford).
London was a very successful trip – research, presentation, friends, food and drink.
I returned to Pocatello and jumped right back into teaching and preparing for my next conference. In mid-October, I once again departed for Europe, this time landing in my adopted hometown of Dublin. I was invited by Professor Kevin Whelan to present work on comparative environmental destruction in war to the Paris: Capital of Irish Culture conference at the Notre Dame Global Gateway. This was truly an honor, and I was warmly welcomed to O’Connell House by Kevin and Notre Dame students then studying abroad. This was a very special event, the second in a dual-conference held to commemorate historic links between France and Ireland. I got to meet several of my academic heroes, including Pierre Joannon, Seamus Deane, and Phyllis Gaffney. My paper, “‘Shattered Glass and Toppling Masonry: War Damage in Paris and Dublin,” compared and contrasted social, political, and environmental responses to war damage caused during the First World War in France, and the 1916 Easter Rising. I have to say that this was a fun topic to pursue, research, and produce. Kevin laid the challenge before me when he assigned the title prefix, which is taken from James Joyce’s Ulysses and required me to dig a bit deeper into literary analysis. I was honored to present alongside Phyllis Gaffeny and Thomas O’Connor in a gorgeous Georgian lecture room overlooking Merrion Square.
We were all treated to a special screening of 1916: The Easter Rebellion, Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s award-winning documentary narrative by Liam Neeson, and later to dinner in a restaurant off Camden Street, where I got to parle en francais throughout the evening.
I was also able to conduct further research while in Dublin, stopping specifically at the Dublin City Archives on Pearse Street. I touched base with my former supervisor, Anne Dolan, Marguerite Helmers, who was also in Dublin, perpetual second-placer in Mario Kart, Kieran Hegarty, and Eamon Darcy, my fellow-Trinner and now, with Una, father to little Aoife! Also, I got to visit with Kara Bearpark and little Margaret over breakfast in Ballsbridge. I was also welcomed back to 43 St. Stephen’s Green by my BC buddies, Claire, Thea, and Mike, and enjoyed lunch with them on the Green. #Neenanfellow4life
This trip provided for excellent reunions, and also prompted new research avenues and collaboration with Notre Dame. In fact, my paper and others from the Paris-Dublin dual conference have been compiled into a collected volume, entitled Paris – capital of Irish Culture: France, Ireland and the Republic, 1798-1916, which will be published with Four Courts Press this autumn. Have a look at the contents here.
The remainder of 2016 was a blitz. The Stovers rocked Halloween. Liam and I went as Ash and Charizard from Pokemon; Catherine went as Madeline and Aunt Kate visited to play the role of Miss Clavel; Meg was the tiger at the zoo to which Madeline said, “poo poo.” We took advantage of some great weather, and had fun!
I began demolishing the downstairs bathroom ahead of my parents’ visit in December. This was a tough job, and one I had not tackled before. The bathroom had pressed wooden paneling glued over previously glued tiles – a mess to remove. Liam was a huge help, and he really enjoyed smashing the existing tile floor! The plumbing was a bit offset as well, which required some creative rerouting, and the ceiling light needed to be moved and mounted on the wall. I laid new tile flooring and tiled the walls with nice subway tiles with grey grout, painted the walls a bright color, installed a vanity and mirror cabinet and replaced the toilet. It was a big job but one that certainly improved our home.
As I worked on the bathroom I also continued to prepare a public exhibition on the environmental impacts of war, a joint venture with Professor Erika Kuhlman. We selected various visual examples of war damage throughout modern history, from Sherman’s march to the sea during the American Civil War to the bombardment of Aleppo (2011-present), and contextualized them in descriptions that tied together the experience of war and environment. We opened the exhibit near Veterans Day with a public talk by Dr. Lisa Brady, from Boise State University.
Dr. Bray’s talk, “Nature’s War,” highlighted historical instances of war and environmental destruction, including aspects of her recent project on the Korean DMZ and its ecological restoration.
Throughout December we prepared the house for the Christmas holiday, attended the children’s school concert, and I furiously finished grading and writing ahead of Mom and Dad ‘s arrival. Then, the entire Stover crew traveled to Jackson Hole to see the lights, sights, and to get some bites. We stayed at the Cowboy Village Log Cabin Resort near downtown Jackson and were able to walk to Snake River Brewing Company and all the restaurants and shops. Meg booked us into the Elk Refuge for a sleigh ride, and we enjoyed a pristine December chill in the peace of the mountain valley. It was a great trip and we returned to our cozy home in time to celebrate Christmas with the family.
We all then flew to Detroit to spend time with Meg’s family and the various extended Nielsen, Cantlon, Pasque, and Stover factions. I imbibed a modest amount of holiday cheer before nailing the vocals on various Bare Naked Ladies songs, and a special tribute to Tenacious D’s “Tribute.” This year’s family gift was bicycles. I selected a Specialized bike from our local shop in my favorite color, and quickly equipped a book rack. I’ve cycled to work every day since the snow has melted.
2017 began with a fury of course prep, snow shoveling, and belated gifts. Two of my works were published in separate collected volumes. “Violence, Trauma, and Memory in Ireland: The Psychological Impact of War and Revolution on a Liminal Society, 1916-1923,” appeared in Aftershock: Psychological Trauma and the Legacies of the First World War.
The second, “Families, Vulnerability and Sexual Violence during the Irish Revolution,” was published in Perceptions of Pregnancy: From the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century. I am delighted to see both in print!
Toward the end of January I revisited a passion I thought I would never experience again: ice hockey. I played pond hockey growing up in Michigan, but never organized arena hockey. I signed up for several mailing lists for drop-in players in Idaho Falls and further afield, and was contacted by the Teton Valley Foundation in Victor, Idaho, to participate in a weekend tournament. The whole Stover crew traveled to Victor for the event, which featured five games over three days – more than I had played in twenty years! We stayed with our Australian friends, Suzanne and Brett, who have a cabin in Driggs, the next town over, and also got to take part in the global women’s march. It was a wonderful experience. I made new friends, resurrected my love of hockey and turned Liam and Catherine on to the game, all while being supported and cheered by Megan.
I continued to play pick-up hockey in Idaho Falls throughout the spring, and we all attended open skates as a family. I am now playing inline hockey locally in the adult league – fun but different. Liam and I practice in the garage and even Catherine enjoys passing the puck around, though she holds the stick like a broom. Meg and I have plans to organize a small youth league at our local rink this autumn, and coach together.
Winter continued to chill Pocatello well into late March. I traveled to Lewiston, Idaho, in early March to deliver a keynote talk at Lewis-Clark State College for their Women’s History Month Event. I spoke on women in the Irish Revolution and was warmly received. Amy Canfield helped to organize the event, and was a wonderful host. Lewiston has a lot to offer, including great coffee shops and restaurants – and a commanding view of the river valley, as you can see!
Throughout the spring semester, I worked with my students in HIST 2291: The Historian’s Craft, on a collaborative project to commemorate the one hundred-year anniversary of the USA’s entry into the First World War. Each student explored an individual, thematic aspect of this project, and we engaged with a variety of primary sources at Idaho State’s Special Collections Department. In the end, I created a separate “Student Projects” section for the ISU’s War, Conflict, and Veterans Studies Committee, a group that I co-chair with Erika Kuhlman.
Late March also brought the annual American Conference for Irish Studies national conference, which was hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. This was a fantastic event, expertly organized and warmly hosted. Kansas City has a lot to offer, and I was floored by the variety of barbecue!! I serve as Secretary on the ACIS executive board, and it was good to see much of our work come to fruition. We honored past ACIS presidents, recognized various book award winners, and saw the changing of the guard as Tim McMahon (Marquette University) succeeded Brian Ó Conchubhair (Notre Dame) as President, and Kate Costello-Sullivan (Le Moyne College) became Vice-President.
My contribution to the conference was a paper that further developed my comparative war damage study. I got to reconnect with a lot of excellent colleagues, including Jason Myers, Ian Burns, Mindy McMann, Ide Milne, Mike Cronin, Sean Farrell, Marguerite Helmers, Oliver Rafferty, Tim O’Neil, Jason Knirck, Michael de Nie, Matthew Reznicek, Mary Trotter, Ariana Mashilker, Ken Shonk, Renee Fox, and MANY others. I also met some new peeps, including Megan Crotty, Claire Connolly, Jim Rogers, Christine Myers, and Amy Clukey, and touched base with one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Fearghal McGarry (Queen’s University Belfast), who presented an insightful talk on the global history of the Irish Revolution. The Kansas City Irish Center at Drexel Hall hosted our conference banquet, which featured live music, great food and an open bar (!!!). Shenanigans were had.
April was a blitz, with several of my graduate students seeking to finish and defend their work, the winding down of undergraduate teaching, committee reports, and the normal excitement that accompanies good weather. Meg and I made time for a date (the first in ages), while Liam and Catherine continued with their busy schedules in gymnastics, ballet, swimming, and piano. Meg’s mom, Mary Pasque, visited again and got to spend some time with the kids in Salt Lake City.
In late April I participated in a panel, entitled “The Future of the Western Alliance in the post-Brexit/Trump World,” organized by my colleague Lauren Krutko and featuring Dr. Martin Farr from Newcastle University – a great event!
I was also honored as a 2016-17 Outstanding Master Teacher by Idaho State University, capping off a busy but rewarding academic year. Meg and I attended the ceremony, which was well attended and presented.
There is no slowing down this summer. We will all be living in Boston throughout June while I work to finish my monograph on environmental destruction and the Irish Revolution. Many thanks to James H. Murphy and the Boston College Irish Studies Institute for the invitation! Also, my brother Daniel and his fiance Ellie are getting married on the farm in mid-June! An exciting year behind us, and an exciting year ahead!