Plenary Speakers

Niall Henry, Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, Sligo

Niall Henry is Artistic Director of Blue Raincoat Theatre Company (Sligo). He studied in Paris with Corrine Soum and Maximillion Decroux and returned to Sligo in 1991 to co-found Blue Raincoat with Malcolm Hamilton. He has directed several of Malcolm Hamilton’s plays including The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst and A Brief Taste of Lighting as well as a selection of staged adaptations/versions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and Macbeth. Other adaptations include Jocelyn’s Clarke’s version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass which was co-produced with the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and Brendan Ellis’s Hollow in the Sand. Niall has also directed for the Abbey Theatre (J. M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in 2002 and Colm Toibin’s Beauty in a Broken Place, both for the Peacock stage). For Yeats 150 Blue Raincoat organised readings of all of Yeats’ plays over two days in a variety of locations around Sligo. Blue Raincoat has specialised in the production of Yeats’ plays, most recently performing On Baile’s Strand on the strand at Coney Island in New York, having done so already on the original Coney Island off Rosses Point and on Streedagh Strand in Sligo, as well as At the Hawk’s Well atop O’Rourke’s Table in Leitrim. A documentary on Blue Raincoat’s current production of the Yeats play The Cat and the Moon will be premiered at the symposium.

Kaoru Matsumoto, Shigeyama Sengoro Family, Kyoto

Kaoru Masumoto studied with the 12th Shigeyama Sengoro Family, one of the most prestigious kyogen families in Japan having performed professionally for almost 600 years. Located in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto, they have toured throughout Japan as well as internationally. This autumn, Masakuni Shigeyama who will play the Blind Beggar in the The Cat and the Moon, will succeed his late grandfather, a designated National Treasure, and his father, to the highest kyogen position by adopting the formal stage name of Sengoro XIV. Kaoru Matsumoto debuted on stage at 23 years of age, as ado, secondary actor in the play Uri nusubito (The Melons Thief). In 1984, he founded the Kyogen Research Group, with Masami Amitani and Yasushi Maruishi. He has worked abroad several times. From 1999 to 2003, he produced the collaborative work Monnaie de Singes at the Municipal Theatre of Paris, with the support of the French Ministry of Culture, with performances in Spain, Portugal, France and Canada. In 2006, he was decorated with an award by the Government of Kyoto. He has directed the Shigeyama Sengoro Family’s traditional kyogen-style version of the Yeats play The Cat and the Moon, itself based on an unpublished version of a kyogen original translated by Ernest Fenollosa.


Joseph Lennon

Traces of Antiquity in a Changeless Art: Yeats and Irish Orientalism

Joseph Lennon is Associate Professor of English and Director of Irish Studies at Villanova University. His book, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse UP), won the Donald Murphy Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies.  He has published articles on literature and cultural history in periodicals such as New Hibernia Review, Women’s Studies, The European Legacy, and The Times Literary Supplement, as well as chapters in books on British, Irish, and Indian literature and culture.  Irish publisher, Salmon Poetry published his volume Fell Hunger in 2011, and he has published poetry in journals such as The Denver Quarterly, Natural Bridge, Midwest Quarterly, and Poetry Ireland.  His next book focuses on the beginnings of the modern hunger strike in the early twentieth century in England, Ireland, and India.


Akiko Manabe

W.B. Yeats, Ernest Fenollosa and Lafcadio Hearn: Three essential figures in the opening of Japan to the West

Professor of English, Shiga University, Japan.  Specializes in American as well as Irish Modernist poetry and drama, especially Ezra Pound and other poets he directly influenced such as W. B. Yeats and Ernest Hemingway with a special interest in the relationship of words and music.  Recently researched the Japanese influence of European and American modernism, especially with relation to Noh and kyoven. Has given papers both internationally and domestically including i) 2015 III CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL Grupo de investigación JAPÓN, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, ii) Ezra Pound International Conference, Brunnennburg, Italy, iii) The First Annual Conference of the International Yeats Society, University of Limerick, Ireland, iv) Annual Conference of Hemingway Society, Japan and v) Annual Conference of Japan Ireland Society. Recent publications:  Hemingway and Ezra Pound in Venezia (2015, co-authored), “Pound, Yeats and Hemingway’s ​Encounter with Japan: Kyogen and Hemingway’s Poetry” in Japanese Artists and Modernism in Europe and America (2016)

Carrie J. Preston

Theater in the ‘Deep’: W. B. Yeats’s At the Hawk’s Well and Japanese Noh

Carrie Preston is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University. Her book Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance (Oxford, 2011) won the De La Torre Bueno Prize for dance studies. She is the author of articles on modernism, performance, dance, and queer theory in publications including Modernism/modernity, Twentieth-Century Literature, and Theater Journal. Her talk is drawn from her new book Learning to Kneel: Noh, Modernism, and Journeys in Teaching, which considers the influence of Japanese noh theater on transnational modernism with chapters on Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats, Ito Michio, Benjamin Britten, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Becket. Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Peter Paul Professorship. She was named the 2015 United Methodist Church Scholar-Teacher of the Year.

R. Jahan Ramazani

Yeats’s Asias

R. Jahan Ramazani is University Professor and Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of five books: Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres (2013); A Transnational Poetics (2009), winner of the 2011 Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association, awarded for the best book in comparative literary history published in the years 2008 to 2010; The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English (2001); Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney (1994), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Yeats and the Poetry of Death: Elegy, Self-Elegy, and the Sublime (1990). He is a co-editor of the most recent editions of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003) and The Norton Anthology of English Literature (2006, 2012), and an associate editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012). He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEH Fellowship, a Rhodes Scholarship, the William Riley Parker Prize of the MLA, and the Thomas Jefferson Award, the University of Virginia’s highest honor.

Gauri Viswanathan 

Theosophical Mediations in Yeats’ Encounter with Hinduism

Gauri Viswanathan is Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  She has published widely on education, religion, and culture; nineteenth-century British and colonial cultural studies; and the history of modern disciplines. She is the author of Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia, 1989; Oxford, 1998; 25th anniversary edition, with a new preface, Columbia, 2014) and Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998), which won the Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association, the James Russell Lowell Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association of America, and the Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. She also edited Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (Vintage, 2001).

Prof. Viswanathan is coeditor of the prize-winning book series South Asia across the Disciplines, published jointly by the university presses of Columbia, Chicago, and California under a Mellon grant. She has held numerous visiting chairs, among them the Beckman Professorship at Berkeley, and was recently an Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome and a Visiting Mellon Scholar at the University of Cape Town. She has received Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mellon fellowships, and was a fellow at various international research institutes. Prof. Viswanathan’s current work is on genealogies of secularism and the writing of alternative religious histories via Theosophy. She has published extensively on the cultural influence of Theosophy. She is a network partner in the international research project “Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism, and the Arts,” funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the UK. As part of the three-year grant she organized a major conference on Theosophy and the Arts at Columbia in October 2015.