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“Changed, Eh?”: A Report on the XXIII International James Joyce Symposium, Dublin, Ireland, 10–16 June 2012

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 593-596 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0091

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For the latest news about Joyce and the world of Joyce studies, visit the JJQ blog “Raising the Wind” at <http://jjqblog.wordpress.com>.

When last I was in Dublin many years ago, I had yet to crack open a novel by Joyce. Returning to his home city for this XXIII International James Joyce Symposium was like visiting a different place entirely. In her plenary address on “Portals of the Scriptural: The Sacred and the Fun,” Vicki Mahaffey suggested that rereading returns you to your initial location but with new eyes, and I experienced this unsettling effect all week. Co-hosted by University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, the Symposium was very much the “return to Ithaca” for Joyceans promised by Anne Fogarty in her opening address, but the week’s proceedings brought to light just how rapidly this common ground shifts in our absence. From Fogarty’s opening remarks to a roundtable on the future of Joyce studies, the question of “where do we go from here” in light of many recent legal, theoretical, and technological developments circled the entire proceedings.

It is an exciting time for Joyceans. The National Library of Ireland recently released its collection of Joyce manuscripts online, and the Symposium was abuzz with discussion of Finn Fordham’s new edition of Finnegans Wake, bought en masse by American scholars unable to find a copy back home. Perhaps most excitingly, Joyce’s writings published during his lifetime passed out of copyright in the European Union on 1 January, but Robert Spoo warned in his plenary address, “On the Public Domains: Copyright after Copyright,” that the legal issues facing scholars remain vexed. Spoo argued that any idea of public domain must always be framed in terms of local and regional particularities: Joyce’s copyrights remain subject to the many legal wrinkles created by geographic location and medium of publication, to say nothing of his unpublished or posthumously published writings. Scholars might not be able to celebrate just yet, as suggested by a panel on “The Copycats of Copenhagen: Issues and Consequences,” in which Terence Killeen, Paul K. Saint-Amour, and Spoo addressed the legal firestorm caused by the recent publication of “The Cats of Copenhagen” and in which Fordham read the text in relation to Danish economic policy. The impassioned responses to the panel offered by Fritz Senn and Danis Rose himself were some of the most talked-about moments in the week.

The Symposium also offered a venue for the discussion of new projects and the launching of those works just completed. An exciting roundtable was led by Spoo, Kevin Dettmar, and William S. Brockman, who discussed their forthcoming collection of Joyce’s unpublished letters. To date, only about half of his letters have been published, and these volumes were undertaken by four different editors. The trio outlined their hope to produce a total of six volumes, which would include three containing new letters and a fresh, corrected edition of those already published, assuming favorable negotiations with the Joyce estate in the coming months. The team projects its first volume to be published in 2015, and the roundtable included a discussion about the kind of edition the Joyce community would want and the ways to make such editorial dreams a reality. With moving introductory comments by Luke Gibbons, the Symposium also celebrated the release of two new publications: Praharfeast: James Joyce in Prague, edited by Michael Groden, David Spurr, and David Vichnar, a collection of essays gleaned from the XXII International James Joyce Symposium in Prague, and Collaborative “Dubliners”: Joyce in Dialogue, edited by Mahaffey, comprising a series of paired essays where each one dialogically addresses a story from Dubliners.

The panel on “Joyce’s New Media” showcased some of the exhilarating work being done in the digital humanities and its relation to Joyce studies. Matthew Kochis described the Modernist Version Project’s plans for a year of Ulysses: during the next year, the project will publish high-quality, searchable digital images online along with a wide variety of tools enabling a fresh look at the text including live chats, podcast lectures by world-renowned Joyceans, and a Ulyssean art competition. Readers can learn more...

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