Sarah Townsend

Sarah L. Townsend

Associate Professor

British and Irish Literary Studies

Research Area(s)

Irish, British, and World Literature; Genre (fiction, drama); Critical Race Studies

Contact Information

Office Location: Humanities 251


Sarah L. Townsend is (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley; B.A. University of Michigan) is scholar of Irish literature and culture and co-founder of the Irish Studies Program at UNM. The adopted Korean granddaughter of Irish-American immigrants, her current research and teaching centers on race and the transnational formation of Irish identity. Townsend is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on the Irish Bildungsroman (Syracuse UP) and author of a dozen published and forthcoming articles on topics including Irish women’s genre fiction, Muslim community theatre in Ireland, the evolution of literary genres, ethnic neighborhoods in the United States, Black and Irish Traveller hair cultures, and multicultural sequels and adaptations. Her monograph-in-progress, What’s New about the New Irish? Immigration, Whiteness, and Racial Mobility in Ireland and the United States, 1892-2020, reevaluates contemporary Irish multiculturalism by tracing its surprising origins in 19th and 20th-century Irish-American white supremacy. Drawing on extensive archival research in Ireland and North America, the project shows how the present-day celebration of so-called “new Irish” immigrants in Ireland paradoxically derives from an older racial vocabulary developed in the United States to support Irish immigrants—who were assigned a qualified variety of whiteness upon arrival—in securing a firm place in the white majority.

Townsend has held major residential fellowships at Wellesley College’s Newhouse Center for the Humanities (2019-20) and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame (2014-15). She has delivered invited lectures in a variety of venues including the Galway International Arts Festival, the Irish Consulate, NUI Galway, Villanova, Notre Dame, Boston College, Dartmouth, and the 2020 American Conference for Irish Studies, where she gave the keynote address. She serves on the Executive Committee of the MLA Irish Literature Forum and is Past President of the American Conference for Irish Studies, West. At UNM, Townsend teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Irish, British, and world literature; theories of race and globalization; and graduate professionalization. She supervises Ph.D. and M.A. students, co-directs the Irish Studies Program’s summer study abroad and alumni travel programs, and organizes Irish Studies events programming.

Department of English Language and Literature
Humanities Building, Second Floor
MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Phone: (505) 277-6347
Fax: (505) 277-0021