restricted access The Post-Copyright "Cowpoyride": A Report on the XXIII International James Joyce Symposium, Dublin, 10-16 June 2012
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The Post-Copyright "Cowpoyride":
A Report on the XXIII International James Joyce Symposium, Dublin, 10-16 June 2012

As if to amuse the "fiery goodmother Miss Fortune" (FW 149.22-23), the XXIII International James Joyce Symposium coincided in both time and space with not one but two events set at acute angles to the Joycean isle: the Fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress and the Fourth Trinity College Dublin Shakespeare Festival. Co-hosted by Trinity College Dublin (Monday-Wednesday) and Joyce's alma mater, University College Dublin (Thursday-Friday), and convened by Sam Slote and Marian Eide, the 2012 Symposium marked the seventh return to the Irish capital since the inaugural gathering in 1967, this time for the ostensible purpose of celebrating a much-anticipated milestone, delicately described by IJJF president Anne Fogarty as a "complicated coming of age" for Joycean scholarship: the passing of Joyce's works, published during his lifetime, out of copyright and into the public domain(s) of the European Union on 1 January 2012. The Eucharistic Congress, by contrast, was returning to Dublin for the first time since the momentous Thirty-First Congress of 1932, commemorating 1500 years since the arrival of St. Patrick (which appropriately appears in Finnegans Wake as the "neuchoristic congressulations" whose participants were "allauding to him by all the licknames in the litany"—FW 234.20-21, 21-22). One can only wonder what Joyce—for whom all things papal were as a red rag to a bull, indeed, for whom the Eucharist was a "EUCHRE RISK" (as much Pascalian, [End Page 10] probabilistic, and Mallarméan as ecclesiastical)—would have made of this curious "coincidance" (FW 304.R03-04, 49.36). Moreover, that the Shakespeare festival was based in the Front Court of Trinity College Dublin meant that Joyceans streaming through the front gate to and from the venues by Fellows' Square were regularly implicated in a kind of ersatz sinkapace with various Moths and Macduffs. So it was that approximately three hundred Joyceans, hailing from thirty-five countries and representing around 180 institutions, found themselves exquisitely triangulated by the Scylla of the Shakespeare troupe and the Charybdis of the Eucharistic Congress, even if the presence of the latter (hosted by the Dublin Royal Society, at Ballsbridge) was felt more in spirit than in the flesh.

It was a return, then, to the omphalos of "[d]youblong" (FW 13.04), and, as such, another permutation of the return to Ithaca, though one ironically accompanied by a nearby celebration of catechesis on an industrial scale. It was no great secret that Joyceans the world over had been looking forward to 2012, some for decades, as the year the grip of the notoriously litigious Joyce Estate would be suddenly and irrevocably loosened. Less clear were the precise contours of the so-called "post-copyright" legal landscape. Indeed, no sooner had the European Union provisions lapsed than news of three fresh copyright controversies surfaced—each with the maverick Joyce scholar Danis Rose at or near its center—which were on "the tap of the tang" of many a seasoned symposiast (FW 598.04). Briefly, these consisted of Rose's claim, in a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, that his publication in April of The Dublin "Ulysses" Papers—a six-volume annotated edition of the National Library of Ireland manuscripts acquired in 2002—"effectively entails a transfer of copyright" of the NLI holdings to him, according to the 2000 Irish Copyright Act; Rose's legal proceedings against the Belgian publisher Brepols for copyright infringement in The "Finnegans Wake" Notebooks; and Rose's involvement in the publication by the Ithys Press, on whose board he sits, of The Cats of Copenhagen, a story transcribed from a 1936 letter from Joyce to his grandson, Stephen, held in manuscript form by the Zurich James Joyce Foundation (staffers there were neither notified of nor consulted about the project).1

To guide the bewildered pilgrim through the so-called "post-copyright" inferno, the opening plenary talk was delivered by Robert Spoo, Chapman Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Tulsa and the former editor of both the JJQ and Yale Law Review, who subjected...