N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: October 24, 1987
Discipline / contribution: literature - poetry ; literary criticism
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Tom Paulin, Department of English, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England.Degree received: Doctor of Literature
Born in Leeds, Tom Paulin grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was an undergraduate at the University of Hull and read at Oxford University for his postgraduate studies.
Tom Paulin is known world-wide as one of Ireland's most important living poets. His first volume, "Theoretical Locations," was published in 1975. His 1977 volume, “A State of Justice,” published by Faber, articulated Paulin's ongoing preoccupations: the poetry, language and difficult politics of Northern Ireland. The book earned the coveted Poetry Book Society Choice, an award to be added to the Somerset Maugham Award, the Eric Gregory Award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award. His third and fourth books of poetry, “The Strange Museum” (1980) and “Liberty Tree” (1985), continued his concern with history—the need to define it now and the need to pitch it towards the future. Last week, Paulin's fifth book of poetry, “Fivemiletown,” was published by Faber and Faber in London.
Paulin's play, "The Riot Act" (a translation of Sophocles' The Antigone) was recently performed at the Field Day Theatre, Derry. Along with Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Seamus Deane, Paulin is one of the founders of Field Day, which serves today's Ireland much as Yeats's Abbey Theatre did eighty years ago.
As a scholar and critic, Paulin has published two books: “Thomas Hardy: The Poetry of Perception” (1975) and “Ireland and the English Crisis” (1985), in addition to several essays in such prestigious journals as the Times Literary Supplement. The Hardy book offers invaluable insights into a poet, who, like “Ireland and the English Crisis” is a courageous book. Following lines laid down in his 1983 monograph, A New Look at the Language Question, Paulin explores Ireland's history, politics, education, national identity, and literature through her relationship with the English language. Tough, unsettling, frank, and consistently learned, “Ireland and the English Crisis” has posed challenging questions to be discussed for years to come. His Faber “Book of Political Verse” (1987) continues the debate.
In his poetry, criticism, drama, and public address, Paulin speaks eloquently for Humanity, Language, and Art in a world that can be tragically indifferent to all three.
Eminent Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you Tom Paulin, asking that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: R.N.G. Marken, professor of English
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