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Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce

30 September 2022

Anna Dijkstra

David P. Rando, Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce (London: Bloomsbury, 2022)

100 years after the first publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), David P. Rando provides an analysis of Joyce’s oeuvre centring on a theme that has not just for a long time remained mostly neglected in Joyce scholarship, but even stands starkly at odds with its general tendency: the theme of hope. By providing innovative analyses of Joyce’s major works, Rando traces the various paths that hope takes in order to present a future-oriented understanding of Joyce that is grounded in ‘socioeconomic material conditions,’ significantly characterising hope by ‘restlessness’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ (p. 1). As such, Rando complements and recontextualises, rather than fully rejects, analyses focusing on hopelessness and pessimism, proposing a dialectical relationship between a capacity for change, and material conditions, in a way that understands Joyce’s work as one large project aimed at the conceptual development and eventual expression of hope. This angle results in a convincing argument for the relevance of hope both to interpreting Joyce, as well as to understanding the act of reading Joyce itself, conceptualising reading communities’ utopian impulses as responses to those seen within Joyce’s work. Continue reading “Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce”

James Joyce and the Modernist Mouth

28 February 2022

Annie Williams, Trinity College Dublin

Modernism was an experiment in what the mouth could do. Modernist literature, in particular, was invested in the creative potentialities of food, sex, and language. These experiments were accompanied, and indeed prompted, by pioneering scientific advancements in genetics and salivary diagnostics. This is a productive lens through which to read James Joyce’s perennial protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. Stephen is rarely very good with his mouth. In both A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922), he flaunts a sporadic reluctance to speak, spit, or kiss. This can be attributed to his hydrophobia, and subsequent unease with bathing and bodily fluids, and his crises of selfhood, as he attempts to ‘fly by those nets’ of nationality, language, and religion.[1] It can also, however, be rooted in these scientific developments: developments that inform the pervasive link between saliva and Catholicism in Joyce’s oeuvre. In this sense, we can establish a link between Stephen’s crises of self-expression and his pathophysiological problems with saliva. Continue reading “James Joyce and the Modernist Mouth”

‘Signatures of all things’: Writing photography in James Joyce’s Ulysses

6 December 2021

Katharina Rajabi (University of Munich)

From the descriptions of photographs in Kafka’s prose, to the photographic metaphorization of memory in Proust’s Recherche (1913-1927), or the subversive gendered use of photographs in Woolf’s Orlando (1928), modernist literature incorporates photography beyond the non-specific image, mere literary motif, or illustration. Modernist writers consider photography as a complex configuration of various discourses essential to modernity – visual perception, representation and reference, time, space and perspective – introducing what Philippe Dubois terms the photographic ‘dispositif’ into the text – a specifically photographic approach to these discourses.[1] In writing, narrating and fictionalising photographs, modernist prose at the same time shapes this ‘dispositif’, often anticipating key ideas of later photographic theory – which, in fact, frequently draws on these authors in developing its arguments (like, for example, Walter Benjamin on Kafka, or Roland Barthes on Proust).[2] The most complex of these modernist writings of photography, centring on the problem of (linguistic) representation, occurs in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922).

Continue reading “‘Signatures of all things’: Writing photography in James Joyce’s Ulysses”

Bestsellers and a Modernist’s Library: Hits and Misses

2 August 2021

Emily Bell, University of Antwerp

Despite the broadening of approaches to push boundaries in modernist studies – linguistic, cultural, national, critical, formal – single-author studies are alive and well. Author-centricity has been a methodology in its own right: the life of an individual justifies critical study whether it is biographically-oriented or not. This longstanding tradition of author-centred modernism has been subject to critique since structuralist interventions (and ensuing subfields) widened the scope of literary studies to explore the cultural matrices and circumstances of textual production. But how do we continue to justify scholarship that spotlights individuals already centralised in our narratives of modernist culture?

Continue reading “Bestsellers and a Modernist’s Library: Hits and Misses”

Rewriting Joyce in contemporary Irish women’s short fiction

26 February 2021

Orlaith DarlingTrinity College Dublin

Modernist influences in the contemporary Irish novel have been well documented, from the narrative fragmentation of Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (2013), to the stream-of-consciousness narration of Anna Burns’s Milkman (2018), to the structure of Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones (2016). Here, however, I wish to examine two Irish women short story authors’ rewriting James Joyce. Continue reading “Rewriting Joyce in contemporary Irish women’s short fiction”

Reading English-Language Literature in Interwar Paris: A Conversation with Joshua Kotin and Rebecca Sutton Koeser About the Shakespeare and Company Project

Sylvia Beach (right) and Stephen Vincent Benét (center) at Shakespeare and Company, circa 1920 [Princeton University Library Special Collections]

4 August 2020

Camey VanSant, Princeton University

What was Gertrude Stein reading in the 1920s? And who was reading Gertrude Stein?

These are the kinds of questions addressed by the Shakespeare and Company Project, a web application that brings to life the world of Shakespeare and Company, a bookshop and lending library in interwar Paris. Founded in 1919 by American expatriate Sylvia Beach (1887–1962), Shakespeare and Company counted among its members Stein, James Joyce, Aimé Césaire, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, and other prominent artists and intellectuals. Shakespeare and Company is also famous as a publisher; when no one else dared, Beach published Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) under the Shakespeare and Company imprint. Although Beach’s business closed in 1941, during the Nazi occupation of Paris, she continued to lend books to friends and acquaintances for the rest of her life. Continue reading “Reading English-Language Literature in Interwar Paris: A Conversation with Joshua Kotin and Rebecca Sutton Koeser About the Shakespeare and Company Project”

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