The Celtic Section is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia, and is solely dedicated to the study of Celtic languages and literatures from the earliest times to the modern day. The Section was founded in 1950 when James Carney from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies was appointed ‘Visiting Professor in Irish Studies’. His appointment was a mark of the close academic ties between Ireland and Sweden in the fields of comparative Indo-European philology and Irish Folklore by the end of the 1940s. Uppsala University has played an important role in promoting research and teaching in Celtic Studies in the Nordic countries ever since. Together with colleagues from Oslo and Helsinki, Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin (now at Ulster University, but then Docent in Celtic Languages at Uppsala) was instrumental in founding Societas Celtologica Nordica in Uppsala in 1990.
Today, the Celtic Section has two members of staff (full- and part-time), whose research interests span a wide range of areas including comparative Indo-European and Celtic philology, textual and literary criticism of Old Irish texts, and the study of nineteenth-century literature and manuscript culture in the Irish language, and 20th-century Irish language folklore. The section continues to play an active role in Societas Celtologica Nordica, hosting the Fourteenth International Symposium of the society in May 2015. Other recent conferences have included Irish America: past and present perspectives, organised in conjunction with the Swedish Institute for North American Studies in March 2014; as well as Irish Studies Symposia held in 2012 and 2013. The section offers a number of courses in Celtic Studies.
Staff at the Celtic Section have expertise in the following research areas (see individual researcher profiles for details):
- Irish-language manuscript culture and production from the early medieval period to the nineteenth century
- Print-manuscript interaction in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland
- Form and function of early modern literature in Irish
- Religion, identity and literature in Irish
- Early Irish literature and language
- Textual criticism of early Irish texts
- Comparative Celtic and Indo-European linguistics
- Breton historical phonology and dialectology
- Middle Breton philology
- Middle Breton versification
- Romance historical phonology and dialectology