James Joyce Summer School


A reception at the Swiss Embassy for Summer School students and lecturers.

Last week, I was teaching (and learning) at the James Joyce Summer School in Dublin. I went to this event myself as a student a few years back, so it was amazing to be back as a lecturer. The event looks at the whole run of Joyce’s works (you can even study Finnegans Wake if you want to!), with talks in the morning from invited speakers and seminars in the afternoon. Particular highlights were talks by Anne-Marie D’Arcy, in her historical approach to the ‘Nestor’ episode which challenged a simplistic reading of Mr Deasy as an Ulsterman (instead showing his roots in the landless Deisi tribe), and Kevin Dettmar, who offered us a new perspective on reading Portrait ironically. David Vichnar’s attention to Joyce’s legacy gave us a reading list of avant-garde works to dip into (Brigid Brophy, Christine Brook-Rose, John Barth and Phillipe Sollers to name just a few). Other inspiring talks were given by Anne Fogarty, Aida Yared, Fritz Senn, Luca Crispi, Oona Frawley and Sara Crangle. It was great to give my talk in such company.

The best thing about the Joyce School though, is the way it brings all different kinds of Joyce readers together, from researchers to students to members of the public. I met a Canadian engineer and his wife who just wanted to read ‘Ulysses’. It’s so nice to know that people just love Joyce and are willing to spend a holiday getting to grips with his work. And it keeps us researchers on our toes to explain our work in interesting ways. A real highlight was the group of Oak Park High School students who joined us for the Summer School, getting their first taste of Joyce and of Ireland at the same time. They were always polite and engaged – a credit to their school – and they’ve been keeping a great blog of their own


(My little talk on the Thursday gets a mention: ‘The lectures today were among the best yet, with topics covering the application of scientific theory in the works of Joyce…‘).

It was good to be in Dublin again, especially in such great weather – we also visited Glasnevin Cemetery, where the ‘Hades’ chapter of ‘Ulysses’ is set and where Joyce’s father is buried, the James Joyce museum at Sandycove and Joyce’s childhood home in Bray (scene of the Christmas dinner episode of ‘Portrait’).   I even managed to get a little manuscript work done. A great trip.


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