Dr Michael G. Cronin

English, Sexualities and Gender

Lecturer / Assistant Professor; MAP Liaison

Iontas Building
(01) 708 6419


I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in English, specialising in twentieth-century and contemporary Irish literature, the history of the novel and in sexuality studies. I have taught at Maynooth University since 2007 and have been a permanent member of staff since 2015. Currently, I am MAP Academic Advisor for the English Department, a student-focused role which I greatly value.

I received my MA from the University of Sussex, having studied on the renowned Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change programme. There I was taught by, among others, the late Prof. Alan Sinfield; a key figure in the development of both cultural materialism and of lesbian and gay studies, and whose scholarly legacy continues to inspire my own work. 
Subsequently I came to Maynooth University in 2004 to complete a doctorate on the twentieth-century Irish Catholic bildungsroman or ‘novel of development’. I was awarded a Government of Ireland postgraduate scholarship to complete this work. I was drawn to do my doctorial studies in the English Department at Maynooth because of its outstanding reputation at that time as the key centre for radical and innovative work in the field of Irish Studies, and the exemplary contributions to that field of scholars such as Emer Nolan, Joe Cleary (now at Yale), Chris Morash (now at TCD) and Margaret Kelleher (now at UCD), among others.  
My first book, Impure Thoughts, was published by Manchester University Press in 2012. It charts the historical development of a genre, the bildungsroman, in modern Irish writing – from James Joyce and Kate O’Brien to Edna O’Brien and John McGahern. It explores how novels gave imaginative expression and aesthetic form to a series of convergent, epoch-defining debates during the Irish twentieth-century: about modernisation and postcolonial development, about sexuality and gender, about individual and national freedom, about religion, culture and the state.

I have further developed my critical engagement with Irish literary history, and my developing analysis of the interconnection of aesthetics and politics in twentieth-century Irish writing, in a series of essays. These have been published in various landmark publications, such as Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Fiction, the Cambridge History of Irish Modernism, British Literature in Transition and The Oxford History of the Novel in English. 
In 2022 I published two further books. Revolutionary Bodies (Manchester UP) traces a style of homoerotic writing in twentieth-century and contemporary Irish fiction. Developing a series of innovative readings, the argument proceeds through three author-centred chapters (Brendan Behan; John Broderick; Colm Tóibín) followed by two chapters on Irish gay fiction and ‘Celtic Tiger’ fiction. The latter two chapters focus on work by Keith Ridgway, Jamie O’Neill, Micheál Ó Conghaile and Barry McCrea, among others. As I explore in the book, in these novels the longing for the male body is insistently associated with utopian political desire. Thus, Revolutionary Bodies prompts us to reconsider the relationship between aesthetics, literature, and sexual liberation.

In 2023, Revolutionary Bodies won the Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Irish Literature, awarded by the American Conference of Irish Studies (ACIS). The judging panel’s citation noted that:

Revolutionary Bodies marks a significant intervention into wider questions of what literary criticism enables critics to do and think in relation to social, sexual and political liberation, while centralising the artistic and aesthetic achievement of the texts themselves in that liberation. By indicating the ways that literature can guide readers to imagining more humane and sustainable ways of being human, Revolutionary Bodies achieves a sense of optimism that few works of criticism accomplish.'


Sexual/Liberation was published by Cork University Press and is part of a series called Sireacht: longings for another Ireland. You can learn more about this innovative and inspiring publishing project here: https://sireacht.ie/.  
Sexual/Liberation explores images of gay men, male bodies and male intimacy circulating in post-marriage equality Ireland. Such images tell us little about the actual lives of gay men. But they offer considerable insight into the political imaginary – the values, norms, anxieties and contradictions – of our society. These images are are varied: Leo Varadkar’s media profile; digital images curated by men engaged in sex work; Irish Queer Archives; media, scholarly and artistic commemorations of Declan Flynn and Roger Casement; Joe Caslin’s murals. 
Taking inspiration from Wendy Brown, Judith Butler and Herbert Marcuse, in Revolutionary Bodies and Sexual/Liberation I encourage readers to rethink the political as sexual – to reflect on how our political perspectives are shaped by desires, need, vulnerabilities and hopes. Together these books challenge us to move beyond a politics of identities and injuries and strive instead for a politics universal and radically humanist in imaginative scope, anti-capitalist and revolutionary in objectives.

You can listen to Rosie Meade, a Sireacht co-editor, and I discussing Sexual/Liberation on an episode of the Múscailt podcast series, available on Tortoise Shack https://tortoiseshack.ie/ 

I was actively involved with the Decade of Commemorations national project, co-organising three international symposiums at MU in 2016, 2017 and 2022. I published significant essays on Roger Casement and Patrick Pearse, as well as presenting my research on these figures at the OUTing the Past Festival of LGBT History in 2019.
With a number of generous and hardworking colleagues from across the university I sit on the steering group of the Maynooth University Sexualities and Genders Research Network (MUSexGen). We strive to encourage, support and showcase diverse forms of research on genders and sexualities at Maynooth University, and we organise a series of research events, including a Postgraduate Symposium, each year. You can read more about our network here: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sexgen 
Likewise working with extraordinary colleagues, I currently serve on the MU Branch Committee of IFUT (Irish Federation of University Teachers), the national trade-union for teaching and research staff in Higher Education. 
I have been a Visiting Lecturer at: Columbia University (New York), Notre Dame University (US), Wuppertal University (Germany), University of Kent at Canterbury (UK) and UCC. I have also been invited to deliver public lectures at cultural institutions, including: Dublin City Public Library; Carlow Public Library; National Gallery of Ireland; Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane; Dublin James Joyce Summer School; Irish Literary Society in London.

Research Interests

My primary research interests are: 

Irish Literary and Cultural Studies, specifically critical perspectives on Irish literature and visual culture inspired by Postcolonial, Marxist and Feminist literary criticism and theory.

Gender and Sexuality Studies, specifically Marxist-informed perspectives on feminist and queer cultural politics.

History of the novel, with a particular focus on Realism, on genres such as the bildungsroman and historical fiction and on Marxist literary theory.

I would characterise my approach to research as interdisciplinary, aknowledging that any truly interdisciplinary standpoint is founded on a clear understanding of, and commitment to, the distinctive value, signature styles and specific contribution of each discipline – in my case, literary criticism.


Year Publication
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Revolutionary Bodies: homoeroticism and the political imagination in Irish writing. Manchester: Manchester UP.
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Sexual/Liberation. Cork: Cork UP/Sireacht.
2012 Michael G. Cronin (2012) Impure Thoughts: sexuality, Catholicism and literature in twentieth-century Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2020 Michael G. Cronin (2020) '‘Our nameless desires’: the erotics of time and space in contemporary Irish lesbian and gay fiction' In: The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Fiction. Oxford : Oxford UP.
2019 Cronin M.G. (2019) 'Rebellious devotion: Catholicism and the limits of modernism' In: A History of Irish Modernism. [DOI]
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) ''Eros and Liberation: the homoerotic body in Borstal Boy'' In: Reading Brendan Behan. Cork : Cork University Press.
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) '‘Rebellious Devotion: Catholicism and the limits of Modernism’' In: A History of Irish Modernism. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
2018 Michael G. Cronin (2018) '‘Between Holyhead and Kingstown’: Anglo-Irish perspectives on the ‘character’ of British fiction' In: Futility and Anarchy?British Literature in Transition, 1920-1940. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
2018 Cronin M. (2018) 'In the wake of Joyce: Irish writing after 1939' In: The Oxford History of the Novel in English: Volume 7: British and Irish Fiction Since 1940. Oxford : Oxford University Press. [DOI]
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) ''To Right the Wrong of the People': vulnerability and revolutionary desire in Patrick Pearse's drama'' In: Patrick Pearse and the Theatre. Dublin : Four Courts Press.
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) ''Pain, pleasure and revolution: the body in Roger Casement’s writings.'' In: The Body in Pain in Irish Literature and Culture. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.
2015 Cronin M. (2015) 'Irish studies between the past and the future' In: Are the Irish Different?. Manchester : Manchester University Press.
2014 Cronin M. (2014) 'Clubs, closets and catwalks: GAA stars and the politics of contemporary Irish masculinity' In: Masculinity and Irish Popular Culture: Tiger's Tales. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2012 Michael G. Cronin (2012) '‘Fantastic Longings: The Moral Cartography of Kate O’Brien’s Mary Lavelle’' In: Irish Studies in Europe, 4. Trier : WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) '‘Ransack the histories’: Gay Men, Liberation and the Politics of Literary Style'. Review of Irish Studies in Europe, 5 (1):58-72. [Full-Text]
2018 Cronin, MG (2018) 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex: Modernization and Sexuality in Contemporary Irish Scholarship'. Boundary 2, 45 :231-252. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2010 Michael G. Cronin (2010) 'Kate OBrien and the Erotics of Liberal Catholic Dissent'. Field Day Review, 6 . [Full-Text]
2004 Michael G. Cronin (2004) 'He's My Country: Liberalism, Nationalism, and Sexuality in Contemporary Irish Gay Fiction'. ÉIRE-IRELAND, 39 :250-267. [Full-Text]

Other Journal

Year Publication
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) 'Review of Paul McVeigh (ed) The 32: an anthology of Irish working-class voices' Irish Literary Supplement, .
2013 Michael G. Cronin (2013) 'Review of Eibhear Walshe Oscars Shadow: Wilde, homosexuality and modern Ireland' Irish Literary Supplement, 32 . [Full-Text]

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2023 Michael G Cronin (2023) na ‘Irish queer historical fiction and the politics of style’ Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, United States, .
2023 Michael G Cronin (2023) na ‘Temporality, historical consciousness and the Irish ‘literary lesbian’ Queens University Belfast, .
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Perception and politics: Patrick Graham’s guiding images Guest Lecture, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, .
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Sexual/Liberation Guest Lecture, UCC School of Applied Social Studies, UCC, .
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Hopeful and homoerotic spaces in Irish writing Guest Lecture, UCC Department of English, UCC, .
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) Historical consciousness and literary style in James Plunket's Strumpet City and Jamie O'Neill's At Swim Two Boys Guest Lecture, Wuppertal University Wuppertal University, Germany, .
2022 Michael G Cronin (2022) 'Ransack the histories': imperialism, neoliberalism and Irish queer historical fiction  Guest Lecture, University of Canterbury University of Canterbury, .
2021 Michael G Cronin (2021) 'Holy God/ tis a fearful death': religious feeling, aesthetics and political dissent in Irish Modernism Catholicism and literary culture in Scotland, Ireland and England: comparative perspectives University of Glasgow (online), 01/06/2021-02/06/2021.
2021 Michael G Cronin (2021) ‘A chink in the fabric of reality’: politics and aesthetics in ‘Celtic Tiger’ fiction Strange Country: Ireland in politics and culture 1998-2021 (SOFEIR annual conference) Université Paris Nanterre (online), 20/05/2021-21/05/2021.
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) Erotics and politics of ‘closetedness’ in Colm Tóibín’s fiction Faces of Change: researching sexuality and gender at Maynooth University Maynooth University, .
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) The Political Imagination of Irish Lesbian and Gay Fiction Columbia Irish Studies Seminar Columbia University, New York, .
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) The Country Girls and the Coming of Age Novel: a public event chaired by Michael G Cronin Dublin One City, One Book Festival Peasre St Public Libraray, Dublin, .
2019 Michael G Cronin (2019) Queering the Rising: presentation on Roger Casement and Patrick Pearse OUTing the Past:the Festival of LGBT History National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, .
2018 Michael G Cronin (2018) Sex, class and hegemony in twentieth-century Ireland 32nd Irish Conference of Historians UCC, .
2018 Michael G Cronin (2018) ‘Sexuality, human needs and the political imagination in Portrait.' Dublin Joyce Summer School UCD/The James Joyce Centre, .
2017 Michael G Cronin (2017) Writing Irish Gay Lives Invited speaker for Irish Literary Society in London London, .
2017 Michael G Cronin (2017) Strumpet City and the historical novel as untimely critique Competing Traditions: 20th and 21st Century Irish Literatures between Realism and Experimentation University of Lodz, Poland, .
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) ‘Patrick Pearse: aesthetics and erotics of heroic masculinity’ All's Changed: 1916 and Modernism Maynooth University, .
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) The influence of 'Portrait' on Post-Independence Irish Writing XXV International James Joyce Conference University of London, .
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) Pain, pleasure and revolution: the body in Roger Casement's writing Revolutionary Masculinities Maynooth University, .
2016 Michael G. Cronin (2016) Forrest Reid: aesthetics and erotics of colonial modernity Marginal Irish Modernisms Liverpool John Moores University, .

Book Review

Year Publication
2015 Michael G. Cronin (2015) Review of Rosemary Hennessy, Fires on the Border: the passionate politics of labor organising on the Mexican frontera and James Penney, After Queer Theory: the limits of sexual politics. . [Book Review]
2014 Michael G. Cronin (2014) Review of Munkelt et. al. (eds.) Postcolonial translocations: cultural representation and critical spatial thinking . [Book Review] http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/qxMm9K3rKBT2KNyHBKSc/full
2014 Michael G. Cronin (2014) Review of Mark Quigley, Empire’s Wake: postcolonial Irish writing and the politics of modern literary form. [Book Review]
2014 Michael G. Cronin (2014) Review of Stuti Khanna, The Contemporary Novel and the City: reconceiving national and narrative form . [Book Review]
2013 Michael G. Cronin (2013) Review of Joseph Valente, The Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922. [Book Review] [Full-Text]
2013 Michael G. Cronin (guest editor) (2013) Irish Review (Special Issue: Criticism and the Crash). [Book Review]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Teaching Interests

My teaching on the undergraduate and MA programmes reflects my belief that teaching and research form a symbiotic and mutually enriching whole. If lecturers come to view undergraduate teaching as an impediment or obstacle to our research this will impoverish both our teaching and our scholarship.

I believe that the primary purpose of teaching English literature is not the transmission of ‘skills’. It is to facilitate the student’s encounter with the literary text. Ideally, that encounter is simultaneously intellectual, emotional and affective, while being at once individual and collaborative – our encounter with a literary text in the shared space of the classroom creating the possibility for meaningfully encountering others. That encounter with the literary text in the classroom can create a (provisional, fleeting, fragile) space for thinking differently about our culture’s values, norms and forms of consciousness. Reading the text provides ways of reading our world – and a space for (briefly) imagining how that world could be different.

Likewise, I believe that a lecturer’s relationship with tutors and occasional staff, who support undergraduate teaching, is best when characterised by respect, collegiality, collaboration and mentorship. As a permanent member of staff, it is right, I think, to recognise the precarity and insecurity confronting our occasional colleagues while acknowledging my relative privilege.

I have been very fortunate to work with some inspiring doctoral students. I have supervised an outstanding project on gendered neoliberalism in contemporary popular fiction. I am currently co-supervising two excellent projects; one on modernity, ethics and the Second World War in Irish fiction and one on queer feminist revisions of classic fairy tales.