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Recent Conferences and Events

October 2020: The Essay Today Zoomposium

This symposium brought together academics, scholars, early-career researchers and students from a range of backgrounds to examine the essay’s popularity (or decline) in order to situate it within a much broader and more culturally diverse history of the form.

The essay has long been neglected on a theoretical level. For this reason, a key aim of this symposium was to begin developing what might be called a poetics of the essay. In developing such a poetics, the participants were especially interested in papers that move beyond oft-cited definitions of the essay—its flexibility and mutability, self-doubt, and anti-totalizing tendencies—to arrive at fresh new insights into the form and its literary histories.

August 2019: Defining and Deconstructing Domestic Noir

A one-day symposium on domestic noir fiction, organised by the School of English.

In recent years, the ‘domestic noir’ genre has seen a surge in popularity, with bestsellers like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window garnering critical acclaim and commercial success. These narratives of domestic suspense are the latest incarnations of a genre which has existed in various forms since the nineteenth century, from the ‘had I but known’ intrigue of the sensation novel to the mid-20th-century marriage thriller. These narratives invariably centre on the domestic sphere, with a particular focus on the lived experience of the women for whom these spaces may prove treacherous or psychologically stifling. Author Julia Crouch, the originator of the term ‘domestic noir’, defines it as fiction that “takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.

This symposium was the first of its kind, focusing exclusively on narratives which broadly fit these criteria. We were delighted to welcome Julia Crouch as a keynote speaker alongside Dr Bernice Murphy F.T.C.D. (Trinity College Dublin), world-renowned expert on popular literature.]

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July 2019: International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures

2019 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of IASIL (or IASAIL, the International Association for the Study of Anglo-Irish Literature, as it existed in its first incarnation).

This anniversary presented an opportunity to consider the evolution of Irish literary and critical studies since the very first IASAIL conference, held in Trinity in the summer of 1970, and to assess the role of criticism in advancing this field of scholarship. The 2019 conference theme, ‘The Critical Ground’, was an invitation to reflect in the broadest possible terms on the critical traditions, interventions, controversies, and conversations which have shaped Ireland’s literature in both the Irish and English languages, and to chart the relationship between such critical engagement and Ireland’s wider political, cultural, and intellectual sphere.

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April 2019: Finnegans Wake at 80

Because of its singular complexity, Finnegans Wake has defied critics in the eighty years since its publication.

The aim of the conference was to encourage a synthesis of thematic and formal approaches to the Wake through genetic approaches, that is, to look at its stylistic and linguistic complexity through the prism of the notes and manuscripts on which it was written during the period 1922-1939, which almost exactly coincides with the Irish Free State. The keynote speakers were Chrissie Van Mierlo and Tim Conley. The conference featured a roundtable on translating Finnegans Wake with Congrong Dai; Robbert-Jan Henkes and Erik Bindervoet and Enrico Terrioni, chaired by Michael Cronin, Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Centre.

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February 2019: Dublin Apocalypse

Trinity College Dublin held a symposium to celebrate the digitisation of the Dublin Apocalypse which made all of its 118 pages available to a global audience.

The symposium, organised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin, in conjunction with the School of History and Humanities and the School of English, drew together experts in their fields to discuss multiple aspects of the Dublin Apocalypse and its broader context.

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December 2018: Thomas Kinsella: A Celebration

Leading poets and scholars honoured the work of the great poet, Thomas Kinsella, at a special event, Thomas Kinsella Celebratory Readings, in early December at Trinity in celebration of his ninetieth year.

The Dublin poet also received an honorary degree from Trinity College later that week for his lifetime achievement in poetry. One of Ireland’s major twentieth century poets, Thomas Kinsella’s work is included in all of the major anthologies and critical surveys of Irish poetry in English. His poems are celebrated and loved for their profound personal candour and sensitivity, but also for his searing political and public critical insight.

The highlight of the celebratory evening was the poet’s own reading of a newly composed poem ‘Ritual’. He told the gathered audience that it would be his final public reading."]

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December 2018: Maria Edgeworth 250

To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Maria Edgeworth, the School of English, the Long Room Hub, and the National Library of Ireland hosted a conference examining her life and writing across its full range and scope.

As well as papers that addressed Edgeworth’s innovative writing for the young, her essays on education and her ambitious and original novels, there were also papers that discussed the wider intellectual, social and political world of the Edgeworth family.

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February 2018: Cosmopolitanism: Literature, Language, Pedagogy

Bringing together scholars and teachers from Ireland, China and Hungary, with contributions from Irish poets who have frequently engaged with international contexts in their work, this symposium explored the idea of ‘cosmopolitanism’ from several perspectives.

While the main focus of the papers will be on literary engagements with cosmopolitanism, from medieval English poetry to contemporary Irish fiction, there were also presentations on cosmopolitanism and language and the idea of cosmopolitanism in relation to patriotism in recent scholarship. This Symposium was organized and funded by the School of English and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with the College of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

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January 2018: The Censorship of British Theatre, 1737-1843

The Stage Licensing Act of 1737 instigated statutory theatre censorship in Britain that lasted until 1963.

This conference focused on the issues around censorship raised by the Huntington’s Larpent Collection, the most important manuscript archive in the world for the study of eighteenth-century British theatre, and put that collection in dialogue with the most important collection of theatre manuscripts for the nineteenth century: the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays in the British Library.

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June 2017: Big Data and Medieval Studies: the Present and Future of Medieval Text Archives

The last thirty years have seen the production of numerous large archives of medieval English texts, including the Dictionary of Old English Corpus (c. 3 million words), the York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose (c. 1.4 million words), the Manchester Eleventh Century Spellings Database (c. 300,000 words), the Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English (c. 650,000 words) and the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse (c. 5 million words).

Since each of these freestanding corpora was built for a different purpose, there is minimal interoperability, and the user must learn separate user interfaces and search protocols for each. Their extraordinary collective power as a tool for cultural, historical, literary and linguistic analyses thus remains to be exploited. Early publications using the materials produced by the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) have shown the revolutionary power of big data to reconfigure our understanding of the early modern, print past. This colloquium sought to catalyse a similarly radical transformation in the possible methodologies for the study of the medieval period, by encouraging collaboration to increase the use and utility of existing text archives and setting a blueprint for their future development.

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March 2017: Robert Lowell and Ireland: A Centenary Celebration

Trinity College Dublin hosted a symposium on Lowell and Ireland to commemorate the poet’s centenary.

The three-day event, from 3rd-5th March, brought together international scholars and poets intent on further teasing out the connections to Ireland and Irish culture in Lowell’s life and art: commonalities with immediate Irish contemporaries (Louis MacNeice and Denis Devlin); political associations (his elegies for the Irish-American Robert Kennedy); the final year of his life, spent living in Ireland with Caroline Blackwood at Castletown House, Celbridge; and his reception in Northern Ireland (notably his influence on younger poets, with papers on Seamus Heaney and Leontia Flynn, along with a personal account of reading Lowell in Bangor, County Down, by Gerald Dawe). The symposium culminated in a poetry reading at Castletown House by Dawe, Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Julie O’Callaghan (who read the transcript of Heaney’s introduction of Lowell at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, which she had recorded with Dennis O’Driscoll in 1975). Marie Heaney, who made contributions throughout the conference, spoke movingly of her and her husband’s friendship with Lowell to bring proceedings to a close.

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February 2017: The Irish and the London Stage: Identity, Culture, and Politics, 1680-1830

This conference considered how recent approaches to eighteenth-century literary studies, as well as theoretical approaches to diaspora studies, might be applied to the case of the London Irish theatrical migrant.

It interrogated the constitutive and instrumentalist function of Irish identity for individuals as well as for social and professional networks. Many of the people listed above considered themselves British as well as Irish (and perhaps for many, more the former than the latter). Questions addressed by the conference included: how did Irish identity inform, advance or impede their professional ambition and direction, politics, and social standing? How well did Irish identity in London withstand political stress points such as the 1720 Declaratory Act, the ’45, the Seven Years’ War, the French Revolution, the 1798 Rebellion, Union, and Catholic Emancipation?

Keynote speakers: Professor Helen Burke (Florida State) and Professor Felicity Nussbaum (UCLA)

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