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

The Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, along with six 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 Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies Barry McCrea

Barry McCrea, Professor of English and Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies

“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. 

Dolly Duffy, Executive Director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association
Sarah Mustillo, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters

“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


Lisa Caulfield, Director of the Kylemore Abbey Global Centre

The Notre Dame Global Centre at Kylemore opened its doors in 2016 and has been dedicated to creating a vibrant educational and spiritual centre in the west of Ireland where the Notre Dame family and the wider Irish community can engage in meaningful and authentic ways. Together with our local partners we strive to provide interdisciplinary programming for leaders, thinkers, and creators with a focus on nourishing mind, body, and spirit.

It is our hope with the Kylemore Book Club that we can bring a little slice of the peace and tranquillity of the west of Ireland to you. As global citizens we share in the challenges of coping with the pandemic which can include feelings of isolation, anxiety and fear, so it is imperative that we remain connected and in communion with one another and what better way than with a book club!

This is a unique opportunity to actively participate with the Global Centre’s network of experts and friends including faculty on both sides of the Atlantic, Irish writers, artists, musicians and playwrights. We look forward to welcoming you to Kylemore whether it be virtually for the time being – or in person in the not so distant future – know that the warm Irish Céad Míle Fáilte (welcome) shall persevere.


Patrick Griffin is the Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and Director of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame

We at the Keough-Naughton Institute are pleased to be a part of the inaugural Kylemore Book Club. Professor Barry McCrea will bring to this endeavor the academic rigor and openness to new ideas that is both his personal hallmark and that of a Notre Dame education. As part of Notre Dame’s newest school, the Keough School of Global Affairs, our Irish Studies institute is committed to exploring Irish culture within a global context. The Kylemore Book Club—with texts and films from Italy, France, and the US—exemplifies the internationalism that is at our core. 


Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C. Assistant Provost for Internationalization

This effort represents a wonderful way to internationalize conversations about how people make sense of their realities, especially during difficult times and periods of profound disruption; times not unlike our own. Based at Notre Dame’s Kylemore Abbey Global Center, in the awe-inspiring west of Ireland, the Kylemore Book Club provides all members of the Notre Dame community with a great opportunity to experience and explore Ireland’s beautiful geographical and literary landscapes, even if from a distance (for now).


June 2, 2020

Art and HistoryHealth and SocietyLisa CaulfieldPatrick GriffinRobert DowdND LearningLiterature & Film in LockdownKylemore Abbey Global CentreBarry McCreaSarah MustilloND InternationalAlumniCollege of Arts and LettersFilmIrish Language and LiteratureKeough School of Global AffairsKeough-Naughton Institute for Irish StudiesLiterature
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