A large and appreciative gathering of scholars and students alike met in the Hibernian metropolis in April 2011 to witness the proceedings of the Fourth Annual UCD James Joyce Research Colloquium. Held under the auspices of University College Dublin, the event took place both at the National Library of Ireland and the university’s Belfield Campus, whose cherries were in full bloom to welcome the arrivals from abroad.
First among the speakers was the eminent Frenchman and philosophe, Professor Jean-Michel Rabaté.
Professor Jean-Michel Rabaté (accompanied by a slideshow of foetuses, zygotes, miscarriages, blastocysts, and beasts of different genera simulated or dissimulated in [End Page 127] the proterozoic and catamenic periods): Yes, it is true. (A hush settles upon the audience.) I am the murderer of Samuel Childs.
Surprise, horror, loathing were depicted on all faces while the professor eyed them with a ghostly grin. Yet this was but the first of a series of revelations made that evening. Many a grisly tale of gruesome horror was to follow, the professor weaving an arcane web of hitherto secret connections between Joyce and Poe: a conspiracy involving Richard Brown, a corpse in the Hudson River, Jacques Rancière, and Maldoror’s bulldog.
Two hours and a thrilling question-time later, the audience yielded to the general thirst, refreshing themselves outside the hall with fine wine, drinking with good cheer until it was drunk, and then drinking some more; for, ever resourceful, the Joyceans crafted a hand-made corkscrew to avail themselves of the John Hume Centre for Irish Studies’ hidden stash of Amontillado, finishing that too before retiring for the night to their quarters in the Harding Hotel, Fishamble Street, Temple Bar.
Friday morning saw our scholars again, bleary-eyed in the chambers of the National Library, to welcome the second speaker of the symposium, the distinguished Dr Luca Crispi.
Dr Luca Crispi: Becoming the Blooms: (hopefully) Love, (more hopefully) Sex. And (with despair) Marriage. Where did Leopold Bloom and Marion Tweedy first meet? Was it, as Joyce writes, in 1887, after a protracted performance of charades in the house of Luke Doyle, Dolphin’s Barn? Or was it some other time and some other place?
A rummage through the archives and Joyce’s freshly-discovered scrawls reveals the answer to be yes — at Luke Doyle’s. And no, also. Joyce’s records are not as straightforward as we might think: the themes of his book growing out of relatively few incidents, which are reused whenever appropriate.
Next to rise to the lectern was the young Dr Scarlett Baron.
Dr Scarlett Baron: (quoting Kristeva) Any text is a mosaic of quotations, and (quoting Barthes) the text is a tissue of quotations. Intertextuality imperils authorship, decentering the fathering source. Joyce severs the umbilical cord to the parent text, quoting works in the Wake without concern for their source. Queer Fish, for example, a book which is about fish.
Dr Baron described with great ingenuity and thoroughness the links between Joyce’s works and the texts of others — a thing impossible had the symposium not offered its presenters a period more ample in which to divulge their research than the twenty minutes granted by most academic conferences.
The final speaker of the afternoon was Professor Anne Fogarty. [End Page 128]
Professor Anne Fogarty (considering an erotic non-verbal exchange): Why have women such eyes of witchery?
Dr Sam Slote: A question I have often asked myself.
Professor Anne Fogarty: Flapper’s atrocities. Female bildung. The role of The Lamplighter in ‘Nausicaa’ is more important than we think.
With a hearty round of applause the afternoon closed and the hard-working scholars dispersed among Dublin’s cobbled streets, only to be reunited, like so many wayward children, by the call for dinner at Saagar’s restaurant by St Stephen’s Green.
Saturday dawned. The last day. Dr John Nash began the proceedings with a series of reflections on the home life of the Joyces. A Victorian consideration of Joyce...