The year 2022 marks the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, but also the 50th anniversary of two important political events in Ireland: the referendum with which Irish citizens formally approved Ireland’s entry into the European Economic Community, and the passing of the European Communities Act by the Irish Parliament, which marked the formal acceptance of this entry. Currently — post-Brexit — Ireland’s geopolitical situation and its belonging to the EU seem all the more central for Ireland’s own future and for the solidity of the European project: the aim of this reading and discussion is to look at the present situation through Joyce’s oeuvre and its impact on contemporary Irish literature.
In Joyce, Europe is treated as a kind of Foucauldian heterotopia, a combination of other spaces both disturbing and reassuring, which compel the reader to an ongoing process of reassessment of the very notion of national culture and cultural belonging. It is an idea of Europe that continues to change and transform against the author’s tumultuous cultural-political context. Joyce’s peculiar polyglossia points to a European cultural dimension and a linguistic code beyond national boundaries, while strongly acknowledging those different cultures and the intricate relationships on which they are based.
The event will delve into the works of contemporary Irish authors Nuala O’Connor and Adrian Duncan, the relationship between Irish and European literature, and the relationship between Irish literature and Europe as a cultural, transnational, and plurilinguistic site. O’Connor and Duncan will read passages from their most recent publications and debate the significance of Joyce’s legacy for contemporary Irish literature.
This discussion is accompanied by the two-day conference Joyce and the Idea of Europe at Bard College Berlin, focusing on the notion of Europe as a complex cultural and geopolitical space of exchange, which emerged in James Joyce’s works.
Nuala O’Connor’s fifth novel NORA (New Island), about Nora Barnacle and James Joyce, was a Top 10 historical novel in the New York Times and is the One Dublin One Book choice for 2022. Nuala has curated the current exhibition at MoLI – Love, Says Bloom. She is editor at flash fiction e-journal Splonk.
Adrian Duncan is an artist and award-winning writer based in Ireland and Berlin. His debut novel Love Notes from a German Building Site was published in 2019. It won the 2019 John McGahern Book Prize. In 2020 he was shortlisted for the Dalkey Literary Awards Emerging Writer. Duncan’s second novel A Sabbatical in Leipzig was published in 2020. It was shortlisted for the Kerry Novel of the Year Award. His third novel, The Geometer Lobachevsky, was published in April 2022.
Opening address by the Ambassador of Ireland Dr. Nicholas O’Brien.
Laura Scuriatti and Annalisa Volpone
This is an event organized by Bard College Berlin and the Centre for European Modernism Studies (CEMS) at the University of Perugia in cooperation with the ICI Berlin and with the support of the Jan Michalski Foundation and the Embassy of Ireland.
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Image Credit © Claudia Peppel
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