Michael Pierse


  • Room 01.005 - 1 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Twentieth and twenty-first century Irish writing (mainly drama and fiction) - British and Irish working-class writing - Community Theatre - Diaspora and migrant writing - Race/ethnicity in contemporary Irish theatre


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research focusses mainly on the neglected area of class in Irish Studies, particularly in terms of literature. It has been presented in recent years at a wide range of public engagement and academic conference activities, and, with the support of the AHRC and other funders, has moved into new multi-disciplinary themes and international contexts. My first monograph, Writing Ireland’s Working Class (2011), emerged from my PhD thesis at Trinity College Dublin, and focussed on the writing of working-class life in Dublin after Seán O'Casey. My recent edited collection, A History of Irish Working-Class Writing (2017), has expanded on that research, and was named by Prof John Kerrigan in his 'Books of the Year 2017' (Times Literary Supplement). I am also co-editor, with Dr Johanne Devlin Trew at UU, of Rethinking the Irish Diaspora: After the Gathering, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. This book which expands my research on diaspora writers. I have also recently co-edited and co-written the introduction for a book of memoirs on a Belfast community festival (Féile Voices at 30 (Orpen Press: 2018)) and have written articles and book chapters on race in recent Irish drama, Patrick MacGill, Seán O'Casey, Brendan Behan, Dermot Bolger, Roddy Doyle and others. I am also more generally interested in cultural production in contexts of marginalisation and disenfranchisement, and am currently working on research on festivals, community theatre and theatre-as-research. This has developed through 1) a crowd-sourced festival history project (http://www.feilebelfasthistory.com/), which is producing two books, an exhibitions and a Dearcán Media/BBC documentary; and 2) a collaborative community theatre project with playwright Martin Lynch, Green Shoot Productions, Fionntán Hargey of the Markets Area Development Association, former civil rights activists and a range of LGBTQ+, women's reproductive rights, housing rights and refugee rights organisations. The resultant play--a collaboration between theatre professionals and this range of activist groups--focussed on 'Civil Rights: Then and Now' and premiered at the Lyric Theatre in March 2018. The project also produced a Linen Hall Library exhibition, which moved to other libraries and will feature at the British Film Institute in 2019, and a range of schools/community outreach initiatives. It will lead to further academic publications on the cultural contexts of the 1960s civil rights movement in Ireland and the emancipatory potential of community theatre. This project is part of the AHRC-funded Creative Interruptions initiative (http://creativeinterruptions.com/), which explores creativity in contexts of conflict and disenfranchisement in Britain, Ireland, India, Pakistan and Palestine.  

You'll find more on my blog: https://michaelpierseblog.wordpress.com/



As Student Engagement Officer in the School of Arts, English and Languages, I co-ordinate personal tutoring and peer mentoring across the School. Before joining Queen's, I taught for almost a decade in further education and adult education in Dublin, and I am a member of the Teaching Council of Ireland and a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority. I also formerly edited two regional newspapers in Ireland: the Cavan Echo and Monoghan Echo. I have been supervisor to five PhD students in the last number of years, ranging in subject from refugee narratives to working-class poetry, and am particularly interested in PhD applications that relate to British and Irish working-class writing generally. My Stage 3 English module, Representing the Working Class, explores this area and suggests a range of less-explored authors whose work might merit doctoral study.  This year, I am supervising/teaching/lecturing on the following modules:

ARC3024 - History and Theory of Architecture

ENG1006 - Sounds of the City: Belfast and Beyond

ENG2000 - Introduction to Critical and Cultural Theory

ENG3000 - Double Dissertation

ENG3064 - Representing the Working Class (convener)

ENG7363 (MA) - Writing the Margins (convener)

I also participate in the annual QUB Institute of Irish Studies Summer School.


Professional affiliations

Member of the Irish Labour History Society, the International Association for the Study of Irish Literature, the Irish Sociological Association and the Teaching Council of Ireland.

Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.

Member of the Steering Group of the James Connolly Visitor Centre.

Awards/Reviewing/Other Activities

  • Winner, Vice Chanellor's Prize for Postdoctoral Research, 20 Nov 2015
  • Supervisory Board Member, CALL: Irish Journal for Culture, Arts, Literature and Language
  • Member of AHRC Peer Review College
  • Referee for Irish Studies Review
  • Referee for Irish University Review
  • Referee for Neohelicon, Peter Lang, Postcolonial Text
  • Invited an keynote speaker at various events locally and internationally
  • Northern Bridge AHRC referee
  • External collaborator on major University College Dublin IRC project, 'Gender, Nation and Genre'
  • Network Member, 'Marginal Irish Modernsims'
  • External examiner to PhD level at University of Edinburgh and Southampton Solent University
  • Undergraduate external examiner to Dublin Technological Institute


Personal interests

I am a Committee Member and former elected officer of the University College Union at Queen's. I also coach Gaeilic football to children at Pádraig Sáirséil CLG (Sarsfield's). Before taking up my current role at Queen’s, I participated in voluntary community work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ireland, as a voluntary mentor with at-risk teenagers. I have also run marathons and races for a number of charities and community groups and run the Ciorcal Comhrá (Irish-language speakers' circle) monthly at Queen's.

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Research Output

Ireland’s working-class literature: neglected themes, amphibian academics and the challenges ahead

Pierse, M., 01 May 2020, In : Irish University Review. 50, 1, p. 67-81 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 16 Downloads (Pure)

    ‘Behan’s graveyard of radical possibility: Richard’s Cork Leg and the (Irish-) American Dream’

    Pierse, M., 2019, Reading Brendan Behan. McCourt, J. (ed.). Cork University Press

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    Back to class: Ireland’s working-class literature

    Pierse, M., Jun 2018, The Honest Ulsterman.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

  • Connecting Civil Rights

    Pierse, M., 03 Jul 2018

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

  • Epilogue: Rethinking the Irish Diaspora

    Pierse, M. & Devlin-Trew, J., Feb 2018, (Accepted) Rethinking the Irish Diaspora: After the Gathering. p. 273 280 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    QUB Impact Development Fund grant

    Pierse, Michael (Recipient), 24 May 2016

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Vice Chanellor's Prize for Postdoctoral Research

    Pierse, Michael (Recipient), 20 Nov 2015

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


    External examiner to Dublin Institute of technology BA Hons English Studies and Languages DT517A

    Michael Pierse (Examiner)

    2018 → …

    Activity: Examination typesUG external examination

    Judging panel: Vice-Chancellor's Prizes, Queen's University Belfast

    Michael Pierse (Recipient)


    Activity: Other activity typesOther

    Peer review for AHRC grant applications, as part of Peer Review College

    Michael Pierse (Advisor)

    2017 → …

    Activity: Consultancy typesWork on advisory panels for social community and cultural engagement

    'Navigating Post-Doctoral Research Funding'

    Michael Pierse (Invited speaker)

    18 Oct 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    'Partition and Decolonial Methods in Community-Based Research: the northern Irish context'

    Michael Pierse (Invited speaker)

    18 Nov 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Press / Media

    'Book celebrates 30 years of Féile'

    Michael Pierse


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

    Féile an Phobail - 30 Bliain ag Fás

    Michael Pierse


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    BBC Arts Show covers 'Connecting Civil Rights'

    Michael Pierse


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Other


    What Snuck about Hopewell and Other Places and Outside the ‘imaginative estate’: Canon, Dialect and Aesthetics in Northern Irish Poetry

    Author: McKendry, S., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Pierse, M. (Supervisor) & Sexton, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy