The James Joyce Birthday Graduate Conference has become a central occasion for the international Joycean community. Organized every year since 2007 to celebrate Joyce’s birthday, this year it successfully held its sixth annual event. The Conference is endorsed by the James Joyce Italian Foundation, the nonprofit organization whose aim is both to promote Irish studies across Italy and Europe and to encourage exchanges between scholars, critics, students, and common readers.
Held on 6–7 February 2013 at the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures of the Università Roma Tre, the JJIF Conference hosted scholars from eleven countries, giving them the opportunity to present their research to an international audience. The Rector of the university, Guido Fabiani, along with the Dean of the Facoltà di Lettere, Francesca Cantù, welcomed the participants and expressed their gratitude to Franca Ruggieri, the President of the JJIF, for her assiduity in organizing such an important event at the Università. Ruggieri, for her part, acknowledged the considerable contributions made by Enrico Terrinoni, John McCourt, and the other members of the board of the JJIF, Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli, Carla Marengo Vaglio, and Paola Pugliatti, as well as by the Irish Embassy in Rome, which has supported the Conference since its beginning.
The Conference opened under the auspices of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who was on an official visit to Italy during that time. Higgins pointed out with great pleasure how popular Irish Studies are in the Italian academic world, and he was pleased to discover that so many young scholars from all over the world were going to take part in the Conference. After considering the similarities between the two countries, Italy and Ireland—migration, a deep affection for the country of origin, promotion of their own culture—the President emphasized the “seismic change” Europe is facing at the present time and the same enormous creativity, which usually characterizes upheaval and renewal, as Joyce experienced at the turn of the nineteenth century.
This year’s topic was “The Difference of Joyce,” and the panels examined much vibrant research on the theme. The panel chaired by Pugliatti focused on widely differing topics, including talks on Joyce as a monster by Maria Grazia Tonetto, Università Sapienza, Rome, Joyce and the novel in France by David Vichnar, Charles University, [End Page 215] Prague, and the female figures in Joyce’s work by Patrizia Grimaldi-Pizzorno, Università di Siena. The first plenary speaker, Fritz Senn, head of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, discussed rhythms and recurring patterns in Ulysses in his speech entitled “Avoiding the Obvious.”
The first day concluded with a roundtable on newly published books introduced by Terrinoni, McCourt, Luca Aversano, and Marianna Pugliese. At the same time, the proceedings of two previous JJIF conferences were presented: Polymorphic Joyce, Joyce Studies in Italy, edited by Anne Fogarty and Ruggieri, and Why Read Joyce in the 21st Century, Joyce Studies in Italy, edited by Ruggieri and Terrinoni.
The following day opened with a plenary section featuring Geert Lernout, University of Antwerp, who was introduced by McCourt. Lernout presented his lengthy research into the connections between the Bible and Finnegans Wake. This was followed by a panel chaired by Jolanta Wawrzycka, Radford University, that included papers on Joyce and Twitter by Andrea Binelli, Università di Trento, the Albanian translation of “Lotus Eaters” by Rozana Bela, University of Tirana, the center and the periphery of paralysis in Dubliners by Fabio Luppi, Università Roma Tre, and the choral novel and modernist writers by Antonio Bibbò, Università di Genova. In the afternoon, Jacques Aubert, University of Lyon II, was introduced by Ruggieri and talked about Joyce and Jacques Lacan, focusing in particular on the Joyce-effect.
Francesca Romana Paci, Università del Piemonte Orientale, chaired a panel that included a theatrical speech on the creativity of language in Finnegans Wake by Orlando Mezzabotta, an independent scholar, and papers on Joyce’s influence on Chaim Potok by Emanuela Zirzotti, Università Sapienza, Roma, the similarities between Joyce and the Russian writer Andrej Belyj by Ilaria Aletto, Università Roma Tre, and...