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September 27, 2012

Framingham State Professor Kelly Matthews’ new book on the history of Irish literary magazine The Bell and its critical role in giving a voice to everyday people during a time of extreme censorship, was met with rave reviews during its launch in Dublin over the summer.

The book, The Bell Magazine and the Representation of Irish Identity, examines how literature can influence society. The Bell Magazine was first published in 1940, just 18 years after Ireland achieved independence and during the start of World War II. Dr. Matthews, a member of FSU’s English Department, says the magazine was a lone voice speaking up for diversity within Irish culture at that time.

“The magazine tried to welcome the voices of a wide range of people, not just established writers,” Matthews says. “This included farmers and poor city dwellers. Conditions in Dublin were very difficult at the time, and the stories shared were in contrast to the government and mainstream media, which tried to promote a more idyllic version of Ireland.”

Matthews first began studying The Bell nearly 20 years ago, as a master’s degree student in Dublin. She later spent four years living in Northern Ireland researching The Bell for her doctoral dissertation, while attending the University of Ulster. She was able to interview two former editors of the magazine, including Val Mulkerns, who until now hasn’t been recognized for her role with the publication, because women weren’t given full credit in the masthead. A second former editor, Anthony Cronin, wrote the foreword for Matthews’ book.

Matthews flew to Dublin in July for the launch of the book, which was hosted by Professor Terence Brown, the former chair of the English Department at Trinity College, Dublin. The book has received positive reviews in both the London Sunday Times and The Irish Independent, and Matthews was interviewed on three national radio programs in Ireland.

“I’ve been really pleased with the reception the book has received,” Matthews says. “I wrote it to appeal to the Irish public and not just scholars. It’s been a long process, but definitely worth it.”

Matthews will discuss the book and the writing process she went through during an Author’s Event Series on Wednesday, November 7, at 1:30 p.m. in the Heineman Ecumenical and Cultural Center. The book will be available for purchase at that event. It can also be purchased through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,400 students with 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a public university, Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

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