March 11, 2021

Fund for Irish Studies at Princeton University presents “Symbols from Within, and Symbols from Without: The Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance”

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents “Symbols from Within, and Symbols from Without: The Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance,” a lecture by Tara Guissin-Stubbs of Oxford University. The lecture will be held on March 19 at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) online via Zoom Webinar. The lecture is free and open to the public; registration is required.

The lecture considers James Weldon Johnson’s assertion in his preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922) that the Black poet needs to find “symbols from within rather than symbols from without” in order to find a suitable form; in so doing, Johnson contends, the poet will be doing “something like what Synge did for the Irish.” Guissin-Stubbs’ talk will discuss overlaps between the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance to try to understand just what Johnson meant, and what this means for us now.

tara smiling with light brown hair wearing orange sweater

Tara Guissin-Stubbs, Associate Professor in English Literature and Director of Studies in English Literature and Creative Writing at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, and Dean of Kellogg College, Oxford. Photo courtesy Tara Guissin-Stubbs

Guissin-Stubbs is an associate professor in English literature, and director of studies in English literature and creative writing at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, and dean of Kellogg College, Oxford. She is the author of a range of publications on Irish and American literature, poetry, and transatlantic culture, including American Literature and Irish Culture, 1910–1955: The Politics of Enchantment (2012); Navigating the Transnational in Modern American Literature and Culture with Doug Haynes (2017); and her most recent monograph, The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion (2020). She is also the book reviews editor for the open access journal International Yeats Studies and a senior fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford. Her next book project will build on her public engagement work on poetry and structure, which discovers analogies for poetry within nature and visual art to find new ways of thinking about poetry, and to break down some of its mystique.

The Fund for Irish Studies 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.” The series is co-produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts and organized by Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities, Founding Chair of the Lewis Center, Director of the Princeton Atelier, and Chair of the Fund for Irish Studies.

Information about the Fund for Irish Studies series virtual events can be found at The final event in the 20-21 series will feature Alan Hayden of University College, Dublin, on “Irish Archaeology Now” on April 16.

The lecture will be live captioned. Viewers in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least two weeks in advance at

The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan, Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.

To learn more about the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures and special events, most of them free, presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, visit

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