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  • ‘Hermenauts Ashore’:The Dublin James Joyce Summer School, 6–13 July 2014
  • Gerard O’Donoghue (bio)

Sailing briskly outwards through the Library rotunda, I torque to salute the salute of Tim Conley striding briskly inwards. Check out and check in. No time now. Dash down steps, through gate, and up Kildare Street at a clip. Coasting the tight corner through the narrow pavement’s thick crowd onto Stephen’s Green I spy from the foot of the Shelbourne Hotel’s steps the white shock of Fritz Senn at the head of the steps of Boston College. The Swiss disease of punctuality. Watching for latecomers. Of which I am guilty. Two to two. Dash and you’ll make it.

The Dublin James Joyce Summer School offers an incomparable asset in Dublin itself. Trieste, Zurich, and Paris have their claims on the writer and his work but while these sites of pilgrimage venerate a biography, to walk in Dublin is to pace out the spatial scales of Joyce’s narrative universe. That dash up Kildare Street and across the northeast corner of the green to Boston College took me apologetically past Fritz Senn and into Luca Crispi’s afternoon seminar on ‘Two Gallants’ where I could vividly see Lenehan and Corley sloping around the corner I had just slungshot in my haste to arrive (more or less) on time. One hundred and ten years after June 1904, despite the changes of many street names and the rise or fall of certain monuments, the topography of the city is essentially unchanged. One can still walk through the south city markets on Georges Street where Bloom allegedly bought Neave’s baby food (U 12.1651–2) or the corporation markets on Mary’s Lane where ‘O’Connell Fitzsimon takes toll’ (U 12.90). That young piano tuner could [End Page 171] happily tap his way, with the courteous assistance of good citizens, from Ormond Quay to South Frederick Street without redrawing his mental map.

But no one map, nor one spooling thread, can guide a reader through Joyce’s work. As Senn, the summer school’s patron, reminded us at the outset of the week, the reading of Joyce is a non-terminating and polyphonous process. The summer school, hosted by Director Anne Fogarty and Associate Director Luca Crispi, brought together seasoned pilots and navigators who, like decent citizens, guided me in my blindness over many fraught crossings.

The first paper of the week was delivered by Anne Fogarty (UCD) who drew on the work of Teresa Brennan and Sianne Ngai to trace Joyce’s affective mapping of Dublin in Dubliners with its lingering and offensive odours of decay. Conceptualizing affect as both phenomenal and social, both endocrinological and cognitive, Fogarty took us through a series of moments in Dubliners where narrating (and reading) minds sense the affective cues that establish atmosphere. Fogarty argued that Joyce’s characters are, pace Matthew Arnold’s conception of Celtic emotionalism, in possession of a ‘bodily intelligence’ that receives and transmits atmospheres. If those atmospheres often reduce the narrative to elliptical silence, the activation of those ‘ugly feelings’ or collective pressure points are also moments of potential discernment. The moment of paralyzed action, Fogarty argued, is also a window for apprehension, cognition, and judgement.

John Brannigan’s (UCD) paper also engaged in a type of re-mapping, asking us to shift focus from the spatial scales of nation, city, and domestic spaces, and to exchange those terrestrial territories for the sea, the archipelago, and the vessel. I should here acknowledge that the title of this report has been pirated from Tim Conley’s coinage — ‘hermenautics’ — struck in response to Brannigan’s paper. Brannigan deployed his profound historical knowledge of the status and uses of the Irish Sea as an ‘inland waterway’ in Joyce’s youth. By recovering a sense of the sea as the connective tissue between the territories of the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland rather than a barrier that authorized Ireland’s insular integrity, Brannigan offered us a reading of Joyce’s shifting orientations towards the sea from Dubliners to Finnegans Wake, and made the case that in going to sea, rather than...


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pp. 171-178
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