Alison Garden is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast, working on a social and cultural history of mixed marriage in modern Ireland. From 2018-2020 she was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast.

Alison is a literary critic and cultural historian, fascinated by how national narratives intersect with the intimate, everyday realities of people’s lives and the stories we tell about this. She has expertise on Irish literary, cultural and political history; ‘the Troubles’; sexuality studies; girlhood; and has particular interests in the histories and cultures of love, romance and sexuality.

Alison’s UKRI Future Leaders award is supporting her current research project, ‘Acts of Union: Mixed Marriage in Modern Ireland’. Alison is delighted to be working with a project team that includes her Co-Investigator, Professor Diane Urquhart, Chair of Gender History at Queen’s University Belfast. Alison is working with the arts and cultural sector to produce an interdisciplinary social and cultural history of mixed marriage, or love across the divide, in modern Ireland. The project will engage with multiple cultural institutions and organisations across the island, including the Belfast-based theatre company Kabosh, and the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), based in Dublin, to help bring her research findings to life.

Alongside this, Alison is writing her second monograph, Love Across the Divide: desire and colonial culture in Northern Ireland, 1970-present. This monograph will be the first study of the pervasive ‘Love Across the Divide’ phenomenon: narratives that feature a frustrated and dangerous romance between lovers from the North’s ostensibly antagonistic communities. Largely overlooked by scholars, this enormously and enduringly popular motif can be found across all literary and cultural forms, from novels, short fiction and poetry, to drama, TV and film. Exploring a range of both canonical and underexplored texts, from 1970 to the present, this cultural history asserts how vitally important, political and revealing such narratives are, as an essential component to making sense of the deeply intimate Anglo-Irish conflict.

Her research has been supported by the European Commission, the Irish Research Council, UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the Irish Association of American Studies, the US-UK Fulbright Commission and the Royal Historical Society.