Experts examine Welsh culture and history at Harvard University conference

A former First Minister of Wales, a Welsh Emmy-nominated actor and a prize-winning Welsh poet are among the speakers at the 2016 NAASWCH Conference held at Harvard University between 20 - 22 July.

NAASWCH (North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History) is a multidisciplinary association of scholars, teachers and individuals dedicated to advancing scholarship on Welsh studies, supporting the study of Welsh-American culture and fostering international bonds between scholars, teachers and the Welsh-American community.

320 x 240Towards these ends, NAASWCH holds a biennial conference where scholars of history, literature, language and the arts present and discuss the results of their research.

The 2016 conference has been organised by Professor Daniel G. Williams, Director of Swansea University’s Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales and currently President of NAASWCH. Professor Williams holds an MA from the Department of Celtic Languages at Harvard. Co-organiser of the conference is Dr Melinda Gray, Secretary of NAASWCH, who also studied at Harvard, specialising in Comparative Literature. 

One of the keynote speakers at the 2016 Conference is Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales from 2000 - 2009, who will be discussing whether the UK is “breaking up” and the way ahead for Wales in a timely session sponsored by Swansea University.

Matthew Rhys Emmy-nominated actor Matthew Rhys (pictured) will deliver the Richard Burton Annual Lecture at the conference, entitled From House of America to The Americans’, where he will explore in conversation with Professor Williams his career from Ed Thomas’s lacerating depiction of post-industrial Wales in House of America, to his award-nominated role as a Cold War spy in the hit series, The Americans.

Also contributing to the conference will be award-winning poet and author Menna Elfyn who will be discussing her new biography of Eluned Phillips, the only woman to have won the National Eisteddfod’s Crown for poetry twice during the Twentieth Century.

Other keynote speakers at the three-day conference include the Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University, Marc Shell and Sarah Prescott, Rendell Professor at Aberystwyth University, whose lectures are sponsored by the Learned Society of Wales and Aberystwyth University respectively. Other sponsors of the conference include the Open University and the Welsh Government Offices in New York. 

The world-famous Harvard Book Store will have Welsh volumes on display during the week of the conference when over 100 delegates will gather at Harvard University for the event.

Professor Daniel Williams, said: “Welsh Studies has long been a poor relation to Irish and Scottish Studies in the USA. This conference, with over 100 delegates from across Europe and the USA aims to rectify that state of affairs. The calibre and status of the contributors and papers will make this a landmark event in the field of Welsh Studies.”

 View the NAASWCH programme here