Professor Gerardine Meaney from the UCD School of English, Drama and Film has been one of the first two Irish women to have been awarded the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant on March 31st, 2020 for her study on migration and culture in Victorian Britain. The research entitled “European Migrants in the British Imagination: Victorian and Neo-Victorian Culture (VICTEUR)” will comprise the analysis of nearly 36,000 books from the British Library Nineteenth Century Corpus. 

The five-year project, that will establish 10 new research positions at UCD, has been selected among 1,881 research proposal from the ERC highlighting the innovation of Professor Meany’s study. It will combine data analytics with literary criticism to understand how migrants were represented in Victorian fiction by British and migrant writers. Integrating text mining methods with data science methodologies has resulted in a collaboration with Dr Dereck Greene, an Assistant Professor from the UCD School of Computer Science, also an expert in machine learning who will provide computational support for the project. The use of big data will address “key unanswered societal questions, how does migration impact on the cultural identity of both migrant and host communities in the historical long-term.”

The aim of the VICTEUR study is to achieve a new “transhistorical and intra-national model” based on gender, ethnicity and demography of migrants in order to understand how migration was responsible for cultural development during the second half of the 19th century. In light of the significance of receiving the prestigious Advanced Grant, Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact commented that Professor Meany’s research is “an excellent example of how digital techniques can be combined with humanities research, and how examination on the past can illuminate the future”.


Alessia Mennitto – Reporter