The London Centre, the majestic Edwardian building at Trafalgar Square that houses the University of Notre Dame’s London Program, has become a hub of international scholarship. A broad and growing network of collaborations among faculty, institutes and other universities now uses the center for international conferences and other events, while the center also enriches the experience of Notre Dame undergraduates studying abroad.
“In our new global era, first-rate universities must develop and establish a vibrant global presence,” says Greg Kucich, who became director of the London undergraduate program nearly two years ago. “Notre Dame’s goal to rank among elite universities as a premier Catholic research and teaching institution involves positioning itself as a distinguished global university. The London Program plays a leading role in this mission as an outstanding center that promotes Notre Dame’s international prestige, particularly through its rapidly developing scholarly dimension.”
This year, the center is launching a seminar series on global history in collaboration with the University of London’s renowned Institute for Historical Research, planning the first of three conferences sponsored by the Medieval Institute, and co-sponsoring a conference with the University of Cambridge, the University of Paris-Diderot and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on “Shakespeare and the Middle Ages.” That conference in late June—one day at the center, one at the Globe—brings scholars together to hear papers across the fields of Shakespeare and medieval studies, explains Peter Holland, McMeel Family Professor in Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre.
Other events this year include the first annual lecture co-sponsored with Chawton House Library of British Women Writers with Anne Mellor speaking on “The Female Elegy,” a conference organized by Notre Dame faculty on “Renaissance Visions of Christian Origins,” and a conference co-sponsored with Edinburgh University Press on Virginia Woolf. Next year’s schedule includes a conference co-sponsored with Birkbeck College, University of London, on “Religious Martyrdom and Terrorism” and a conference organized by Notre Dame faculty on “Religion and Literature.”
Along with regular poetry readings, concerts and book launches, the center has also in the last two years hosted a conference on “European Identities” sponsored by the Nanovic Institute, co-hosted a conference with the London-based University of the Arts on artist Meredith Monk, co-sponsored a seminar with St. John’s University on English poetry, and hosted a conference, organized by Notre Dame faculty member Dennis Doordan and linked with the Victoria & Albert Museum, on British architect Eric Gill.
Kucich also launched a new symposium last year, titled the University of Notre Dame London Symposium, that brings together Notre Dame faculty with European scholars. The last two symposia have focused on “Cosmopolitanism and Religious Diversity” and “Irish London: Print, Politics and Performance in the Long Nineteenth Century.” A Notre Dame alumni-student lecture series has featured James Turk on “Gold and the Collapse of the Dollar” and Stryker McGuire on “The Crisis in International Journalism.”
Each event, Kucich says, draws another wave of interest from scholars interested in collaborating with Notre Dame, as European universities push to strengthen their international connections. Kucich also is working to raise the profile on the Notre Dame campus for the scholarly side of the London Program, which has been known for decades as a premier study-abroad program for undergraduates.
“The significant overall benefit of these combined priorities,” he says, “is to give Notre Dame—on undergraduate, graduate and faculty levels—a markedly heightened standing in the world of international academic life.”