Dr Padraig Kirwan

Staff details

Dr Padraig Kirwan


Senior Lecturer in the Literature of the Americas


English and Creative Writing


p.kirwan (@gold.ac.uk)

Padraig’s primary interest is contemporary Indigenous literatures and literature from the North American continent

Padraig’s research focusses primarily on indigenous writing in the United States and Canada. He takes an interdisciplinary approach, and considers various reflections of tribal culture, experience, history, and presence in the work of Native American and First Nations authors. Padraig is most interested in the productive friction that might underline various forms of sovereignty and continuance, while also glossing and acknowledging the various junctures—both historical and geographic—during which indigenous communities have experienced forms of settler violence. A large part of his work studies the way writers and artists grapple with complicated questions regarding indigenous realities, occupancy, colonialism, and continuance in the contemporary moment. Deeply committed to collaborative practice, Padraig has worked closely with Choctaw writers, artists, and historians in order to tease out moments of intercultural and international connection between the Choctaw and the Irish.

Academic qualifications

  • BA (Hons) English and History, University College Dublin 1997
  • MA (Hons) American Literature, University College Dublin 1998
  • PhD, University College Dublin 2002

Teaching and supervision

Research interests

Padraig’s most recent research has been on the relationship between the Choctaw Nation and the people of Ireland. He recently contributed two chapters to Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present, which he co-edited with LeAnne Howe. He also contributed to Heroes of the Ireland’s Great Hunger (Christine Kinealy, Jason King and Gerard Moran eds). His first book was Sovereign Stories: Aesthetics, Autonomy and Contemporary Native American Writing (2013). Prior to that, he co-edited Affecting Irishness (with James Byrne and Michael O’Sullivan). He is currently co-editing and contributing The Art of Resistance (with David Stirrup). Padraig has published essays in NOVEL, Comparative Literature, the Journal of American Studies. More recent essays include “‘Mind the Gap’: Journeys in Indigenous Sovereignty and Nationhood” (Comparative American Studies), and “An Indian’s Journey & Tribal Memoir(y): David Treuer’s Rez Life” (forthcoming in Enduring Critical Poses, SUNY).

Padraig welcomes research proposals on any aspect indigenous literatures and has also supervised several students taking the MPhil/PhD in Creative Writing. Select completed and currently supervised PhD theses include:

• A First-Class Man and Surgery on the Battlefield: Mobile Surgical Units in the Second World War and the Memoirs they Produced (Kate Venables)
• Approaching the Apocalyptic: an exploration of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic tropes in relation to Wire Diamonds (Rachael Thomas)
• The uprooted writer, and how is creativity influenced by our perspectives on home? (Sarah Leipciger)
• Blood Sports: Hunting, Ecologies, and More-than-Human Animals in Twenty-First-
Century American Literature (Nadhia Grewal)
• Louis Riel, Justice, and Métis Self-identification: Literary Politics for Survival in the Evolution of Canadian Nationhood (Robin White).
• The Observances and Observations of Walks by the Sea (Kate Miller, winner of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize).

Grants and awards

2024: Principal Investigator, "Sharing Lands: Reconciliation, Recognition, & Reciprocity"
A major, 3-year project funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council).

2021: 2021 Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies
The prize is awarded for excellent publications that present original research in Transnational American Studies (including original interdisciplinary research in Transnational American Studies).

2020: AHRC (network member)
Project title: ‘Indigenous Literatures and Languages in the Americas: Translanguaging and Education in Global Contexts’

2020: Co-applicant on the CHASE funded Decolonizing Research Methodologies workshop series
In collaboration with Professor David Stirrup, University of Kent

2019: British Association of American Studies/U.S. Embassy Small Grant Awardee
Sharing Famine Pots: Telling the Story of the Choctaw Irish Gift Exchange 1847-Present. Team Lead.

2015: Public Engagement Grant Awardee, Goldsmiths, University of London
Project title: ‘Transatlantic Reciprocity: Exchanges between the Choctaw and the Irish’

2003: Fulbright Scholar, University of California, Los Angeles
Project title: “‘The Border Crossed Us’: Spiritual, Political, and Cultural Borders in Native American Literatures of the American Southwest”

2001: Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences Scholar
Postgraduate studentship

Publications and research outputs


Kirwan, Padraig. 2013. Sovereign Stories : Aesthetics, Autonomy and Contemporary Native American Writing. Oxford: Peter Lang. ISBN 9783034302036

Edited Book

Howe, LeAnne and Kirwan, Padraig, eds. 2020. Famine Pots: The Choctaw Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9781611863697

Byrne, James P.; Kirwan, Padraig and O'Sullivan, Michael, eds. 2009. Affecting Irishness: Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and Beyond the Nation. Oxford: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-03911-830-4

Book Section

Howe, LeAnne and Kirwan, Padraig. 2021. The Choctaw Gift. In: Christine Kinealy; Jason King and Gerard Moran, eds. Heroes of Ireland's Great Hunger. Hamden, Connecticut; Cork: Quinnipiac University Press; Cork University Press, pp. 263-275. ISBN 9781736171202

Kirwan, Padraig. 2021. An Indian’s Journey and Tribal Memory: David Treuer’s Rez Life. In: Gordon Henry Jr.; Margaret Noodin and David Stirrup, eds. Enduring Critical Poses: The Legacy and Life of Anishinaabe Literature and Letters. New York: SUNY Press, pp. 51-77. ISBN 9781438482538

Kirwan, Padraig. 2020. Recognition, Resilience & Relief: The Meaning of Gift. In: LeAnne Howe and Padraig Kirwan, eds. Famine Pots: The Choctaw Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9781611863697


Kirwan, Padraig. 2017. Review of: The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature. Ed. Deborah L. Madsen. Routledge, London, 2016, 524pp ISBN 978 1 13 802060 3. Wasafiri, 32(2), pp. 75-76. ISSN 0269-0055

Kirwan, Padraig. 2017. Choctaw Tales: An Interview with LeAnne Howe. Women: A Cultural Review, 27(3), pp. 265-279. ISSN 0957-4042

Kirwan, Padraig. 2015. Review of: Queequeg's Coffin: Indigenous Literacies and Early American Literature by Birgit Brander Rasmussen. Modern Language Review, 110(3), pp. 783-784. ISSN 0026-7937

Professional projects

As Principal Investigator of "Sharing Lands: Reconciliation, Recognition and Reciprocity", a 3-year, AHRC-funded project, Padraig is examining the nature of the relationship between the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the people of Ireland alongside Professors Gillian O'Brien (Co-Investigator, Liverpool John Moores University) and LeAnne Howe (International Co-Investigator, University of Georgia). Research will be conducted into some of the most significant aspects of this remarkable connection, including its rootedness in Choctaw lifeways.

As co-applicant, Padraig hosted, along with Professor David Stirrup (primary applicant), the Decolonizing Research Methodologies workshop series. Having successfully applied for CHASE funding, Padraig and David hosted and facilitated workshops that introduced students to the key readings in Indigenous and Decolonizing Research Methodologies, and worked together with scholars engaged with methodological developments in this area.

A well as serving as a reviewer and assessor for the Fulbright Commission (Ireland) and the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Padraig has also held several external examinerships: School of Languages, Linguistics & Film, Queen Mary, UoL (2023-present); English Literature Department, University of Hertfordshire (2019-2023); School of English, University of Kent (2016-2020).

Padraig has held many roles within ECW and Goldsmiths and has served on departmental and College committees. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Examiners for Undergraduate degrees (ECW) and is on ECW’s Research Committee and Undergraduate Teaching & Learning Committee. Prior to this, he was a member of both Academic Board (two consecutive terms) and the Extenuating Circumstances Special Topics Group. He was ECW’s Head of Admissions from 2009-2013.

Research projects

2024: "Sharing Lands: Reconciliation, Recognition and Reciprocity"
AHRC-funded project (2024-2027)

Media engagements

2020: CBS News Morning Show
Interview with Michelle Miller

2020: Time Magazine
Quoted in “Irish Donors Are Helping a Native American Tribe Face the Coronavirus Crisis”

2018: The Conversation
Author of “How a small American Indian tribe came to give an incredible gift to Irish famine sufferers.”

2013: Times Higher Education
Author of review of the National Portrait Gallery's “George Catlin, American Indian Portraits.”

Conferences and talks

2024: ‘We Write Our Stories, Our Histories on the Land.’
Invited guest speaker. American Literature Research Seminar, University of Oxford.

2023: ‘Researching Indigenous Contexts.’
Invited guest speaker. Research Café event, Goldsmiths, University of London.

2021: “Contextualizing Famine Pots.”
Invited guest speaker at Irish Famine Summer School, Strokestown Park.

2021: Choctaw-Irish Connections with LeAnne Howe and Padraig Kirwan
Chahta Tosholi Virtual Speaker Series, organized by Choctaw Nation Historic Preservation.

2021: "Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Relationship", University of Missouri-St-Louis Irish Studies Lectures
Invited guest speaker, along with LeAnne Howe

2020: Famine Pots Roundtable.
Organized by the Consulate General of Ireland, Austin, Texas, and moderated by Naomi O’Leary, The Irish Times.

2020: “LeAnne Howe and Padraig Kirwan in conversation.”
Invited guest speaker at The Trailblazery Hedge School.

2020: “The Story of the Choctaw Gift: Interview with LeAnne Howe, Christine Kinealy and Padraig Kirwan."
Invited guest speaker, Institute for Famine Studies, Dublin.

2020: “Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange.”
Invited guest speaker, with LeAnne Howe, Milton Public Library, Massachusetts.

2020: “Hereness, Awayness and the Work of 2Ro Media.”
Religion, Nature and Culture Conference. University College Cork.

2019: “Hereness in Jackson 2Bears & Janet Rogers’s ‘For this Land’ Series.”
Native American Literary Symposium, Mystic Lake, Minnesota

2017: Co-organizer of the 38th American Indian Workshop (London).
3-day international conference held at Goldsmiths, University of London.

2016: “The Gift: Irish and Native American Exchanges.”
Public Engagement event at the Goldsmiths, University of London.

2016: “Rousing Mirth: Craig Womack’s Short Fiction.”
Roundtable (organizer and co-presenter). American Indian Workshop, Odense, Denmark.