Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, campus partners announce new program on literary works and films during pandemics

The Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, along with the Keough School and five other partners from across the University of Notre Dame campus, has launched the Kylemore Book Club, an open, multimedia, educational enrichment program featuring Notre Dame’s expert faculty. Regularly throughout the year, relevant themes will be selected and participants will be invited to join four weekly meetings to discuss books, excerpts, films and other materials.

The debut program, “Literature and Film in Lockdown,” is led by Professor of English and the Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies Barry McCrea

“With the closing of the campus in March, I decided to offer an online mini-course on literary works and films set in pandemic or quarantine. My hope was to give students who had suddenly found themselves back home some bearings to help navigate the strange silent waters of life in lockdown,” said McCrea. “It is hard to get a mental handle on a situation that seems to have no precedent. But plagues have always occurred. Our literature is rich in precedents and full of strategies to get through the experience psychologically. I hope our Kylemore Book Club participants will be helped by gaining a deeper understanding of the present by exploring the past.”

Literature and Film in Lockdown includes book excerpts, film viewings, short explainer videos from McCrea, a LinkedIn discussion group and weekly interactive Zoom sessions. The program is free and open to all and it is hosted exclusively on ThinkND, Notre Dame’s open, online learning community. 

“One of our core values at the alumni association is helping our Notre Dame family thrive in learning,” said Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. “We are thrilled to have ThinkND as the exclusive home for the Kylemore Book Club and share the outstanding offerings from Notre Dame with our alumni, parents and friends around the world.” 

The program offers unique opportunities to learn from Notre Dame’s expert faculty, to engage with Irish culture and landscape through the Kylemore Abbey Global Centre in Ireland and to exchange thoughts and ideas with fellow participants in a virtual format. 

“Even as we remain physically confined and isolated, the liberal arts are essential to opening our minds to worlds past, present and future,” said Sarah Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “Literature and film—and engaging in conversation about them with others—are sustaining and revitalizing forces, especially in challenging circumstances. As an esteemed literary studies and linguistics scholar, Barry McCrea is the ideal person to form a community that will help us better understand the times in which we live.”

The first week of Literature and Film in Lockdown is an introduction of works from previous times of lockdowns and plagues, with the initial Zoom discussion on Wednesday, June 17. The topics for the remaining weeks include “The DeCameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio, Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Rear Window,” and “The Plague” by Albert Camus. While the Book Club is presented as a four-week experience, participants are invited to join for any session.

Partners for the Kylemore Book Club include the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, ND International, the College of Arts & Letters, the Keough School of Global Affairs, ND Learning, and the Notre Dame Alumni Association.

Originally published at on June 2, 2020.

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