Talking Movies

July 19, 2012

Trevor/Bowen Literary Festival

History, Architecture and Literature will be intertwined at this year’s Trevor/Bowen Literary Festival when Eoghan Harris officially opens the 6th annual weekend of literary activity in Mitchelstown, Cork this Friday.

Outside of the opening ceremony and talk by Tom McCarthy, who has chosen “Bowen, De Valera and the Neutrality of the Dead” as his topic, all the other events over the weekend will be held in buildings whose origins date many centuries. Kingston College was built in the late 18th Century to provide accommodation to the less well-off members of the Church of Ireland community. Its chapel will host readings by members of the local creative writing group earlier on Friday afternoon. Other venues include Farahy Church, originally built in the 12th Century then rebuilt as a rare example of an 18th century rural Church of Ireland church, where Sophia Hillan will speak about “Elizabeth Bowen’s sense of place” on Saturday afternoon. The Kingston Arms, located in Kings’ Square, was built in the 18th Century and on the Saturday and Sunday mornings it will be the venue for Creative Writing Workshops for Adults. The facilitators are John MacKenna and Mary O’Donnell who will mostly concentrate on helping those who are at an earlier stage of their writing efforts. Sharpe screenwriter Eoghan Harris will, on the other hand, be concentrating on the plot as the basis for all good story writing.

Mitchelstown Town Hall, which was built as a Catholic Church in the late 18th century before being converted into a school 50 years later, will house all of the remaining weekend’s activities. These events include talks, screenings and readings. “A Childhood friendship with Elizabeth Bowen” by Sally Phipps, daughter of Mollie Keane, will see her talk about her memories of the Elizabeth Bowen she remembers as a child. Stephanie McBride presents her very successful talk “The Films of William Trevor”, as well as showing excerpts from various films made of Trevor’s works, preceding a screening of “The Ballroom of Romance” which will be followed by the eponymous Dance with a three piece band. Jim Ryan presents his interpretation of the Bowen’s novel “The Last September” as a reader and, after showing the film, will chair a discussion regarding the film presentation of the book as against the readers’ interpretation. Finally, Danielle McLaughlin, winner of the Trevor/Bowen Short Story Competition 2012, will read her winning entry.

Admission prices per person (excluding workshops) are €10.00 for individual events, €25.00 for a Saturday only ticket, and €45.00 for a weekend ticket. Prices for the Adults Creative Writing Workshops are available on the website. There will be a cheese and wine reception and a short, musical performance by local folk group, Eistigi, on the opening night. There will also be a Festival trad/folk session in Auntie Mae’s pub on the Saturday night at 11.00pm. See for full details.

December 15, 2010

Space, Technology & Modernity in Irish Literature & Culture

I delivered my paper ‘Competing Philosophies in That They May Face the Rising Sun’ to the ‘Space, Technology & Modernity in Irish Literature & Culture’ conference held in University College Dublin in May this year. With that paper now revised and submitted as a journal article I thought I’d look back at the proceedings held at the Humanities Institute of Ireland in UCD and organised by Graham Price and Liam Lanigan.


Friday 21 May

Panel 1: Beckettian Aesthetics
Chair: Dr Stanley van der Ziel (University College Dublin)

‘‘‘Antiquarians and Others”: Beckett’s Irish Modernists’
Alan Graham (University College Dublin)

‘The Phenomenology of Pain in Beckett: The Tedium and the Message’
Siobhan Purcell (University College Dublin)

Panel 2: Gender, Culture & Society in Ireland
Chair: Dr Anne Mulhall (University College Dublin)

‘Desire Lost and Found: Elizabeth Bowen’s The House in Paris and Kate O’Brien’s As Music and Splendour’
Maggie O’Neill (NUI Maynooth)

‘Kate O’Brien’s Modernism – Selves, Subtexts, “Mixed Media”’
Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka (Independent Scholar)

‘“A Sweet Colleen and a Salty Sinner”: Conceptions of Irishness, Catholicism, Homosexuality and Modernity in the Fiction of Emma Donoghue’
Annie Galvin (Trinity College Dublin)

Panel 3: Comparative Modernisms
Chair: Dr Sharae Deckard (University College Dublin)

‘“A Place on the Road to Somewhere Else”: The Fictional Writing of Colm Toibin in the “World Republic of Letters
Sonia Howell (NUI Maynooth)

This Side of Princeton: Ireland and F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise’
Gavan Lennon (University College Dublin)

‘Adding “new beauties”: Joyce and Rushdie’s critical works’
Pauric Havlin (University College Dublin)

Keynote Address: Moynagh Sullivan (NUI Maynooth)
‘Space & Interspace: Medbh McGuckian’s Poetics, Maternal Aesthetics, and Matrixial Borderspaces’
Chair: Dr Graham Price (University College Dublin)


Saturday May 22

Panel 4: The Evolution of an Irish Modernist Aesthetic
Chair: Dr Lucy Collins (University College Dublin)

‘Modernism and Modernity in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland
Stanley van der Ziel (University College Dublin)

‘“Pealing out a living message”: Sean O’Faolain, The Bell and The Artist’s New Ireland’
Muireach Shankey (University College Dublin)

‘“Dear Dirty Dublin” or “The Parable of the [Fair Trade] Plums”: Representing Dublin in Ulysses
George Legg (Trinity College Dublin)

Panel 5: Consumption, Globalisation and Tradition in Recent Irish Fiction
Chair: Dr Graham Price (University College Dublin)

‘“A Simple and Genuine Sense of Homecoming”: Transition in Brian Friel’s Faith Healer
Eoin Delap (Trinity College Dublin)

‘Binge and Purge: Excess, Ekstasis, and the Celtic Tiger’
Niamh Campbell (Trinity College Dublin)

‘Competing Philosophies in That They May Face the Rising Sun’
Fergal Casey (University College Dublin)

There were a number of universities represented at the proceedings and an even greater number of writers. Beckett finally triumphed over Joyce by getting his own panel which illuminated his off-beat early literary criticism and the philosophy of pain in his mature work. Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen and Emma Donoghue were usefully placed in a continuum of female writers complicating received notions of gender and sexuality. Joseph O’Neill justified the Gatsby comparisons for Netherland by not feeling out of place after a paper on F Scott which brought out his Irishness to a surprising degree. Moynagh O’Sullivan’s keynote address meanwhile was a suitably dazzling display of theoretical fireworks used to illuminate the dense rich poetry of Medbh McGuckian. My own panel looked at work by Brian Friel, Kevin Power, John McGahern and Paul Murray, proving that not only is Irish literature engaging with modernity, despite the constant complaints by some commentators, but that a hefty reading list of must-read Irish novels of the last decade could be jotted down from texts cited in discussion of any one panel of this conference.

Ireland remains a republic of letters…

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