Griffin to frame history of immigration with ‘fighting Irish’



Patrick Griffin may teach lecture halls full of Fighting Irish in his classes at the University of Notre Dame, but he will discuss a different kind of Irishmen and women this morning.

Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor and chair of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of History, will give a lecture titled “Migration to America in Historical Perspective: The Case of the Fighting Irish” at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Last season, Griffin gave a lecture titled “America As Frontier: A View of Our Past” during Week Five, “The American West.” Vice President and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education Sherra Babcock said she got the idea to invite him to speak on immigration when she heard him discuss the concept of sending and receiving societies at a social function.

“The Irish immigration is part of our history, and nobody really recognizes what a good example that is of the sending and receiving society,” Babcock said. “When one culture comes into another culture in massive numbers, it changes the place. We thought giving an example of that would be a really good way to start a week on issues that people see as controversial.”

Griffin’s research focuses on colonial America and early modern Britain and Ireland, as well as transatlantic immigration and adaptation. He is the author of American Leviathan: Empire, Nation and Revolutionary Frontier, America’s Revolution and The People With No Name: Ireland’s Ulster Scots, America’s Scots Irish, and The Creation of a British Atlantic World.

According to his faculty page on the Notre Dame website, his current research includes projects focused on George and Charles Townshend and the Age of Atlantic Revolutions.

Babcock said Griffin’s talk will allow the week to come together into a coherent whole.

“We wanted to start with some place that didn’t necessarily start here [in America],” she said. “Then, we’ll end with some questions about what’s happening today in global immigration, and then in the middle we will talk about American immigration.”

In addition to this narrative whole, Babcock said she feels Griffin’s lecture will give audiences a new perspective on current events.

“Certainly, history has different perspectives, but we can all see a historic perspective then say, ‘OK, in light of what I learned historically, this is how I’m going to look at the present,’ ” she said.