Leaning over the area railings in Georgian Dublin and debating whether they should dare to hang over the edges like Bloom but eventually opting to recline against them like Stephen, students at the 2009 Dublin James Joyce Summer School flashed their cameras and smiles, combining literary curiosity with a documentary impulse as they proceeded on the School’s walking tour. The lively tour, led by Keel Geheber of the James Joyce Centre, was the concluding activity in a richly rewarding week of lectures, seminars, workshops, and social events—all organized under the expert academic directorship of Anne Fogarty.
When participants gathered at Hourican’s Pub on the opening evening, a convivial spirit of reunion pervaded the atmosphere as longtime friends embraced and joyfully recounted the highlights of past Joycean gatherings. But there were many newcomers as well, and students traveling from places as varied as Asia, Europe, America, and the Middle East were quickly welcomed into the community. This year’s Summer School had a particularly youthful touch on account of the attendance of ten eager teenagers from the Oak Park and River Forest High School in the Chicago suburbs. Their teacher, Brendan Lee, plans to continue the tradition and take a group to Dublin every other year. [End Page 210]
On the first day of the School, I sat in on Christine O’Neill’s A Portrait seminar with them and was both impressed by their ability to summarize the morning’s lectures and enlightened by their amateur readings of Joyce’s work. Though “Flaubert” occasionally morphed into “Flow-burt” on their lips (and here “flow” was often pronounced like the abbreviated flower of U 11.861), the students nevertheless extracted the essential points from Scarlett Baron’s characteristically sharp presentation, “‘I will have shown somebody the way’: Flaubert and the Making of James Joyce.” In class, students reported that Stephen Dedalus’s dependence upon literary precedence, as outlined by Scarlett, made him “less of a smarty-pants” and “more accessible.” Responding to Anne Fogarty’s lecture on “Inventing Dublin,” students expressed surprise over how inconsistent Joyce could be in statements about his fictional recasting of Ireland. Flipping through her handout, the class re-examined such famous quotations as “I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis” (LettersII 134). In an earlier comment, Joyce had described “the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city,”1 casting yet further doubt on the precise subject of his project: is it hemiplegia or paralysis? A city or only a place considered to be?
The week’s subsequent lectures and seminars were equally thought-provoking. For the remainder of the School, I attended Terence Killeen’s fascinating Finnegans Wake seminar at Boston College, where we sank into overly comfortable chairs and closely studied the henpecked letter of I.5. Other, simultaneous seminars included Peter van de Kamp’s Dubliners, which, I heard, sparked spirited interpretive debates between students and instructor, and two Ulysses classes, led by Fritz Senn and Tom Halpin, which incorporated student-led presentations, included one ambitious high-school participant, and received enthusiastic reviews. In lectures, topics covered a broad spectrum, ranging from the Hungarian and Romanian translations of Ulysses (Erika Mihálycsa) to error (Matthew Creasy), Shakespeare (Laura Pelaschiar), and the textual-genetic origins of Leopold and Molly Bloom (Luca Crispi). Delivered by a combination of seasoned Joyceans and newly-minted doctors of philosophy, the lectures were often enhanced by multimedia presentations or humorous anecdotes. In “A Bloom for No Seasons,” Fritz Senn, Patron of the Dublin James Joyce Summer School, described how Bloom is often defined by what he does not do—in “Cyclops,” for instance, he passes up the drinks and opts instead for a cigar. Here Fritz related a corollary story: an Irishman once asked a Swiss man, “Can I get you a drink?” “No thanks,” the Swiss replied. “I’ve already had one.” Just as the fictional Bloom and his modern-day Swiss counterpart fall short of Irish drinking expectations, so Bloom also refrains from...