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Boston College Faculty Member Robert Savage Wins Irish Studies Book Prize

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (4-5-11) --  A new book by Robert Savage, a faculty member in the Boston College History Department who also teaches in the University’s Irish Studies Program, has been honored by the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) .


Savage was awarded the 2010 James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Best Book in History and Social Sciences for A Loss of Innocence?: Television and Irish Society, 1960-72 (Manchester, 2010).

The book explores how television helped facilitate a process of modernization that slowly transformed Irish society during the 1960s. Television introduced into Irish homes an unrelenting popular culture that helped undermine the conservative political, cultural and social consensus that dominated Ireland.

“I’m delighted to win the Donnelly Prize,” Savage said. “I’ve been involved with the ACIS for close to twenty years and to be recognized by my peers with such a prestigious award is an honor.”

The award was presented during the 2011 ACIS international meeting, held March 30-April 2 at The University of Wisconsin, Madison. A multidisciplinary scholarly organization, ACIS has some 800 members in the United States, Ireland, Canada and other countries. 

According to the award citation for Savage’s book: “Through the meticulous use of historical archives, careful engagement with secondary sources, and interviews with key leading figures, Savage demonstrates how television was an active agent and key medium in shaping the modernization of Ireland. ... Savage’s history tells the tale of television pioneers invested in holding institutions accountable while simultaneously bypassing traditional intermediaries, including the Church and local and national press.  The book is particularly impressive in its scope that traces the effects of the same medium in the very different, but connected contexts of both northern and southern states as well as in its interdisciplinary appeal.”

At Boston College, Savage teaches European, Irish and British history. His fields of interest include Irish political and cultural history; film and media in Ireland and Britain; Northern Ireland, and Anglo-Irish relations in the 20th century.

He also is the author of the books Sean Lemass: A Biography (1999), Irish Television: a Political and Social History (1996), and editor and contributing author of Ireland in the New Century: Politics, Culture and Identity (2003).

Savage’s research has been funded by BC’s College of Arts and Sciences and through fellowships and grants by the Leverhulme Trust of Great Britain, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, the Department of Education and Science, Ireland, the Irish-American Cultural Institute and the National University of Ireland. 

He is a member of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Post Graduate Assessment Board and a member of the editorial board of The Historian.

Savage was educated at Boston College and University College, Dublin.  

--Rosanne Pellegrini, BC Office of News & Public Affaira,