Giacomo Raffaelli, still from With a Relative Uncertainty 2014, high definition video, 7 min 45 sec. Courtesy of the artist.

What is Ultimology?

Ultimology is the study of that which is dead or dying in a series or process. When applied to academic disciplines, it becomes the study of extinct or endangered subjects, theories, and tools of learning. 

The first Department of Ultimology was established by Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain in January 2016, at Trinity College Dublin. Operating from the department's headquarters at CONNECT, located in Dunlop Oriel House, the department conducts qualitative research into endangered subjects within academic disciplines across the university, as a way to explore the evolution and disappearance of forms of knowledge that in turn shape academia and the educational context. 

The Department of  Ultimology is part of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. OMG is a research platform within CONNECT that works in critical and creative relation/tension with technology. 

The department currently has one student. Ciaran Byrne is in his final year of undergraduate study with the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. He conducts research and analysis projects in collaboration with the Department of Ultimology. Some of his most recent findings were presented at the First International Conference of Ultimology (April 2016). 

The department was initiated with the support of Trinity Creative Challenge Award. Ongoing research and further developments are made possible through a number of partnerships and collaborations, including support from Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, The Centre For Dying On Stage, CONNECT Centre for Future Networks and Communications, and the generosity of numerous wise and brilliant individuals.

The Department of Ultimology envisages a 100 year existence as a field of study at Trinity College Dublin.


Kate Strain and Fiona Hallinan speaking at the First International Conference of Ultimology. Documentation photography by Louis Haugh.

Kate Strain and Fiona Hallinan speaking at the First International Conference of Ultimology. Documentation photography by Louis Haugh.


Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain are based in Dublin and are graduates of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin. 

Hallinan is the creator of a number of collaborative projects such as Heterodyne, iterations of which have taken place in Paris, Istanbul, and Wicklow; The Hare, an artist run temporary café at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin; Concrete Tiki, a series of site-specific food events at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; and HOMESTAY, hospitality project for Science Gallery, Dublin. Her work has been shown at Kerlin Gallery, IMMA, Mother's Tankstation and Brown University. 

Strain researches performativity in visual arts practice. She is artistic director at the Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria. She was curator in residence 2016 at Cow House Studios, Wexford, and makes up one half of the paired curatorial practice RGKSKSRG. Ongoing curatorial projects include The Centre For Dying On Stage, online research and commissioning body; On Curating Histories, generative lecture series; The Man Who Sat On Himself, group exhibition for Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy; and The Enquiry, Dublin-based seminar group.