Bookends 2015: Tenth Anniversary
Programme of Events
Thursday, April 23rd
9.00 – 9.45: Plenary Speaker
Dr. Ian Murphy
Crystals of desire: Relations of body and mise-en-scene in Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Paul Schrader’s overlooked biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) concerns the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima’s lifelong search for radical forms of creative and personal expression, culminating in a highly self-conscious act of public seppuku. Despite the occasional debt of inspiration to Yasujiro Ozu’s so-called tatami shot, Schrader’s stylised mise-en-scene owes less to the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema than modernist European art cinema innovators like Michelangelo Antonioni and Bernardo Bertolucci, who staged neurotic relationships between character and environment by painting objects, manipulating colours, and decorating natural landscapes in the manner of studio sets. In keeping with this aesthetic lineage, I draw upon Kaja Silverman’s psychoanalytic theories of male masochism and Nick Davis’ concept of the queer crystal image to argue that the film’s use of colour, production design and “crystalline” editing techniques (which blur the distinctions between actual and virtual reality) all express a mode of desire that cannot be reduced to simplistic hetero/homo binaries. Yet these queer formal strategies also express problematic attitudes to the female body and cultural Others that have defined Schrader’s oeuvre from the beginning. In this way, Mishima can be understood as a biopic that reveals at least as much about its creator as its subject.
~ Break ~
10.00 – 11.30: Panel 1
Chair: Loretta Goff
Your Perfect Jew?: Passing and Social Mobility in The Great Gatsby and The House of Mirth
In a letter dated the 8th of June 1925, Edith Wharton wrote to F Scott Fitzgerald regarding The Great Gatsby that “it’s enough to make this reader happy to have met your perfect Jew, and the limp Wilson, and assisted at that seedy orgy in the Buchanan flat, with the dazed puppy looking on. Every bit of that is masterly – but the lunch with Hildeshiem, and his every appearance afterward, make me augur still greater things!”
Wharton’s somewhat ambiguous comment urges the reader to consider both Gatsby and Hildeshiem in the role of this “perfect Jew”, and also recall Wharton’s own Jewish character of Simon Rosedale in her novel The House of Mirth. Wharton’s character of Rosedale operates in a similarly obscure manner to Hildeshiem – both are successful businessmen who are considered a regrettable necessity to many in both societies, and yet are too useful to discard or insult very obviously. Fitzgerald’s skilful depiction of Hildeshiem’s business deals with Gatsby is reminiscent of Rosedale’s pecuniary value to those around him. Although characters’ ambitions to marry into their chosen society are frustrated, there is also a suggestion that Gatz/Gatsby is a later version of Rosedale – a Rosedale who has infiltrated and integrated more successfully into Society than the original managed to do. Therefore, this paper will investigate the connections between the two novels, and in particular the representations of Jewish characters in both authors’ works.
Sublime Flow: The Jazz Poetic Origins of Early Intellectual Hip Hop
This submission is a study of the influence and intertextuality of jazz poetry following the Beat poets of the 1950s, to the use of musical accompaniment with spoken word recordings, while paying close attention to the means with which poetry is evolving to stay accessible and relevant. The study focuses on the literary qualities of early rap and hip-hop, which has close ties to jazz poetry and beat poetry. The presentation will focus on “flow” as both a system for rhyme and meter and also as a creative impulse akin to the sublime. The paper will also confront the rejection of hip-hop and rap as an art form in contemporary academia and will also seek to evaluate the literary qualities of this medium.
Celluloid Spectres and Phantasmagoric Spectacles: Technological Anxiety in Post-War American Cinema
Writing on the crude eighteenth-century precursor to contemporary motion picture projectors, Marina Warner describes early magic lantern devices in which painted slides emblazoned with various grotesque images were projected onto walls and smoke screens as apparatuses designed to project the mind’s phantasms into the external world (14). Thrilling audiences with tenebrous visions of monsters and spectres, these projections, aptly termed phantasmagoria, remained a popular theatrical spectacle throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as their fusion of scientific techniques and macabre iconography resulted in a synthesis of light and shadow so dynamic that, according to the device’s most successful proponent Étienne-Gaspard Robert, audiences were regularly forced to “cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing towards them”.
However, while these early phantasmagoria ultimately faded into obscurity as the acceleration of motion picture technology gave birth to more refined modes of projection, this paper maintains that the aesthetic and technological legacy of phantasmagoric projection can be seen in the emergence of mid-twentieth century cinematic fads such as the protruding forms of 3D film and the all-enveloping panoramas of cinemascope. Initially devised to lure affluent post-war audiences away from increasingly ubiquitous television sets, cinematic novelties such as 3D and cinemascope, as well as some of the more elaborate publicity stunts devised by the era’s B-movie producers, served to transform the physical space of the movie theatre, transgressing the boundaries of the cinematic frame and imbuing the interstices between spectator and spectacle with uniquely vital projections of their cinematic fantasies. Focusing in particular on a group of horror films produced by low-budget, genre director William Castle in the 1950s and 60s, this paper will argue that these films exemplify post-war America’s cinematic preoccupation with demolishing the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and allowing the era’s myriad social and political anxieties to emerge from the celluloid borders of the fixed screen. Utilising elaborate gimmicks such as specially-constructed filtered goggles, plastic models attached to complex pulley systems and interactive audio-sensory mechanisms, films like House on Haunted Hill (1959) and 13 Ghosts (1960) projected their phantoms outward into the physical space of the theatre and, in doing so, created a form of gothic horror dependent upon and inextricably linked to technology. Thus, just as “spirits and science were deeply interwoven in … early spectacular enterprises” (Warner 15), so too were the ghastly spectres of post-war American cinema born out of the technological innovations of their era. Consequently, this paper argues that these elaborate spectacles, which alternately thrilled and terrified audiences in a similar manner to the original pre-twentieth century phantasmagoria, ultimately encapsulate the ambivalent, uneasy relationship with technology that defined American culture in the decades following the Second World War.
~ Coffee Break ~
11.45 – 13.15: Panel 2
Chair: Nicholas O’Riordan
T.S. Eliot’s Heart of Darkness in literature, film and television
T.S. Eliot’s poems The Waste Land and The Hollow Men, often considered to be companion pieces, are both heavily indebted to Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. The indebtedness of Eliot’s two poems to Conrad’s novella is such that Eliot’s two poems and Conrad’s novella have also come to be considered companion pieces, a fact reflected in and promulgated by the interweaving of the two in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now.
While the influence of this twinned vision of Conrad and Eliot on film, in the form of Apocalypse Now, is fairly well known, less well known is its influence on literature and television, in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and in David Simon and Ed Burns’s The Wire.
In looking at its influence on The Wire I wish to show how just as Apocalypse Now mediated Heart of Darkness through The Waste Land and The Hollow Men, The Wire becomes an additional link in this chain of association, mediating Coppola’s film through Conrad and Eliot.
In looking at its influence on Finnegans Wake I wish to show how it sheds light on the notion of beginning and ending in the novel and in doing so, and in supporting it with numerous references to Eliot in Finnegans Wake, in addition I hope to reverse the perception that Eliot was far more influenced by Joyce than Joyce was by Eliot.
“Less than Television”: Over-stimulation, Desensitisation and the “Crisis of Effect”
As the central instrument in the promotion and so perpetuation of consumerism, the image holds a special position in the society of Late Capitalism. Operating through a kind of “positive reinforcement”, the ubiquity the image now enjoys can essentially be attributed to its unparalleled capacity to incite and stimulate the processes of consumption on which Capitalist systems are predicated.
Our technologically-enabled over-exposure to the image has however, precipitated a crisis of effect, as our quotidian bombardment with the hyperreal content of mass culture has desensitised us to our surroundings; our lived experience of reality dulled by the brilliance of the spectacle.
In our necessary adoption of a kind of scepticism towards these various imagistic vectors of manipulation, we are forced to raise the threshold of our awareness. Drawing on a range of works by social theorists such as Sut Jhally and Raymond Williams, as well as film-makers David Cronenberg and Olivier Assayas, this paper will aim to illustrate how advertising and the “culture industry” have adapted both form and content in the hope of penetrating the “thickened skin” of their subjects’ psyches.
Violence in Film Portraiture
This paper will discuss the Shirley Clarke film, A Portrait of Jason (1967), using the concept of the artist as an overarching theme to engage with a number of interwoven questions. Firstly, what is it about the artist that requires further deliberation? Secondly, what is an artist? Thirdly, what motivates the biographer, or artist to declare their genius? This paper considers the notion of violence as pre-existing or created through Clarke and Jason’s engagement, as one pushes the boundaries of the other. Furthermore, violence permeates the broader discourse of portraiture, underpinning the relationship between biographer and artist. A Portrait of Jason confronts the biographer’s relationship with the artist as they grapple over the right to present the artist’s image, while the audience is pacified through an infatuation with the spectacle of the artist figure.
~ Lunch ~
14.15 – 15.45: Panel 3
Chair: Michael Waldron
Poems from “Lagan”
For my MA thesis I produced a collection of fifteen poems titled “Lagan”. The word Lagan, meaning goods sunk at sea attached to a buoy in order to be retrieved later, is both the title and the theme of the collection. The poems deal variously with memory, rites of passage and the sea. The collection includes forms such the sonnet, sestina and haiku as well as free verse. I propose to read a selection of these and other poems.
“Mittelschmerz” – A Short Story from Quarryman
I am a student on the MA in Creative Writing course and co-editor of Quarryman, the newly revived UCC literary journal. Quarryman appeared intermittently between the 1920s and the 1980s. It’s probably best remembered from its 70s heydays when it featured writers such as Thomas McCarthy, Theo Dorgan, Greg Delanty, Gerry Murphy, John Montague, Paul Durcan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Sean Dunne and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill.
The inaugural MA Creative Writing class in UCC has decided to revive this publication and the first edition features some of our work, along with work from some of the magazine’s former contributors. Quarryman will be officially launched in Triskel Christchurch on Saturday 25th April at 9:00 p.m. as the closing event of the Cork World Book Fest.
For my Bookends paper, I would like to give a quick background to Quarryman and read from “Mittelschmerz”, a short story which forms my own contribution to the anthology. In brief, a woman on holiday in Italy with her husband develops an obsession with a lizard living in the courtyard of their holiday home. As the holiday progresses, she becomes increasingly fearful, and the world about her seems to harbour sinister reminders of a troubled experience. Then a secret from her recent past emerges…
Short Story – Gold Cup
Gold Cup is a short story of 3839 words which was produced for the Fiction workshop run by Mary Morissey as part of this year’s MA in Creative Writing. It is a story about chance, about gambling and losing. The progenitor is an Englishman living in Ireland with his girlfriend and her mother. He has a weakness for gambling, and a dislike of hospitals. The strength of the piece is in its voice, and its weakness is my insistence on leaving in one more twist than might be needed in so short a story.
Other Creatures – Ladyboy (Music Video)
Devised and shot in two days in June 2014, Ladyboy is a no budget music video directed, shot and edited by Nicholas O’Riordan starring Charlie Kelly (Romeo & Juliet – Cork Opera House 2012, The Secret Scripture – Jim Sheridan, 2015).
~ Coffee Break ~
16.00 – 16.45: Plenary Speaker
Paul Casey of Ó Bhéal
Paul Casey will read work from his forthcoming poetry collection, due from Salmon in early 2016. He will also discuss some of the challenges faced with writing from an eclectic range of influence, forming a second collection, writing in second languages, running Ó Bhéal, expanding audiences and the emerging popularity of the poetry-film.
18.30: Bookends Social Event
Join us for an evening of music, drinks, food and general merriment at Suas Rooftop Bar, North Main Street. All are welcome!
*If you would like to join us on the night, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest. Please be aware that a small contribution of €3 is required from those who wish to attend the night out. This will be collected by the Bookends Committee during conference proceedings on Thursday.*
Bookends 2015: Tenth Anniversary
Programme of Events
Friday, April 24th
9.45 – 11.15: Panel 4
Chair: Patricia O’Connor
The Gothic on the Border
My PhD considers the ways in which the political boundary between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has shaped fiction by writers on both sides of the border, during the momentous decades between 1969 and 2014.
The border is a contested landscape, a site of uncertainty where stable notions of identity are undermined. The instabilities associated with the border are reproduced in novels and shorter fictions as they challenge the conventions of the literary forms through which they find expression. Border demarcation, when it is unchallenged, provides a secure and defined location from which to understand the self and the outside “other”. The stability of an identity grounded in allegiance to place becomes ruptured when a border is seen as an imagined line dissolved as easily as it was established.
This presentation will focus on Gothic fiction which presents to the reader a haunted indeterminate landscape in which monsters are liable to appear, and where protagonists are faced with the spectral return of an unresolved past. Davey tells us, the Border is “the kind of in-between or liminal space in which the Gothic has traditionally been situated”. I will outline traditional understandings of the genre and will examine how its key generic conventions are ratified and distorted within the Irish Border context. My main goal is to show the Border as a site in which the stability of inherited imagined identities can be challenged and undermined. I will use the short fiction of Eugene McCabe and Sean O’Reilly to ground the argument.
Hyphenated Horror: Depictions of the Irish-American Relationship in Shrooms and Leprechaun
For whether they are set in the pas t or in the future, on the mean streets of a contemporary New York or long ago in a galaxy far away, genre movies are always about the time and place in which they are made. — Barry Keith Grant
This paper examines the relationship of Ireland and America as seen through the lens of the horror genre, with particular reference to films from both sides of the Atlantic: Shrooms (2007) and Leprechaun (1993). Through their subversion of key Irish-American tropes and the romantic or tourist gaze these two films can be read as representative of contemporary fears relating to cultural commodification and colonisation, even while themselves participating in this commodification to a degree.
Recent years have seen a large number of horror or comedy/horror films produced in Ireland. The genre, which does not require large budget for productions, can easily be achieved in rural Irish settings. At the same time, the American audience easily identifies with these settings, familiar to them through the genre’s convention of isolation. The combination of low budgets, marketability, and increasing distribution options including Netflix and the internet can make these films appealing to produce. The root of the “fear” produced in horror films, however, may have deeper implications, outside of the conventions of the genre, which both reflect and challenge societal ideologies. My reading of the aforementioned films will attempt to draw out these roots as key difficulties in the contemporary connections between Ireland and America.
Voicing After the Tiger: Accents in Post-Celtic Tiger Irish Cinema
My paper examines the position of accent in contemporary Irish film, with a particular focus on cinematic Dublin. Looking at several key texts from the new wave of Irish cinema, I will explore the representation and ideological application of accents as semiotic categories in recent cinema.
Along with the emergence of the Celtic Tiger in the early 1990s, there came a notable shift in accents in the country, with South Dublin widely recognised as the nexus of a “new accent”. Robert Moore claims that this “new” Dublin accent is one which “nobody in the country would claim as their own”, having “no community of ‘native speakers,’ only people who are pretending to be something they aren’t”, an accent which has been created to dissociate the speaker from local Dublin. However, with the more recent economic crash and the fall of the Celtic Tiger, a reversion of this accent shift has been taking place, with the emergence of a trend known as “Accent Tourism”, a process in which “children of the extremely well off to speak in exaggerated working class accents” in order to dissociate themselves with the superficiality of the Celtic Tiger culture which emerged years earlier.
Looking in particular at a recent trend of “voicing” in Irish cinema, I will examine the implications of and motivations behind the use of “other” voices by characters, relating this to performances and perceptions of Irish identity in films including What Richard Did, Dollhouse, The Commitments, and Adam and Paul.
~ Coffee Break ~
11.30 – 13.00: Panel 5
Chair: Andrew Farrow
Set in Stone: The Urban Necropolis of Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor
According to Susana Onega, Hawksmoor “attempts to recreate the confused and contradictory intellectual atmosphere of the period of the Enlightenment from the double perspective of both its emergent empiricism and its strong undercurrent of submerged and repressed occult practices”. By adhering to the oxymoronic nature of the term Gothic Novel, Hawksmoor depicts the confrontation between the old and the new, the archaic and the modern and ultimately between reason and irrationality. The idea of timelessness, or the past, present and future being fixed to a simultaneous plane of existence is a concept that Ackroyd consistently plays with in his fictions. In Hawksmoor, the accepted understanding of time, namely linear time, is destabilized when two different time periods converge in unpredictable and unsettling ways. This subversion of time is Ackroyd’s attempt to disrupt the meta-narratives established by the Western world and reevaluate the very legacy of the Enlightenment.
My paper will investigate how the metropolis is built on invisible geometrical lines of power that echo of half-repressed occultist and superstitious energies which divulge a deeper, more esoteric truth.
Contested Space: The Great Book of Ireland
The art critic Catherine Marshal writes in Art and Architecture of Ireland Volume V that the Great Book of Ireland was “probably the single biggest collaborative project in the history of Irish art” (52). This paper will seek to explore the collaborative practise in the book. In all, there are two hundred and seventy contributors. The book contains a pantheon of artists, poets and composers all jostling for a place between the boards. This paper will explore the interaction between the visual and the textual elements in the Great Book of Ireland. I will close read a number of folios of the book and discuss how the book’s design is informed by this contentious relationship between word and image.
The Archangel in the Margins: The Archangel Saint Michael in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41
The homily describing the role of the archangel St Michael is a rare apocryphal homily written continuously in the margins of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41. Despite being a well-established figure in Old English Literature this particular homily to Saint Michael is not found in any other manuscript belonging to the Old English corpus. This unique marginal homily is situated within a broader context of Old English, Latin and runic marginal texts which distinguish this early-eleventh century manuscript from the remaining manuscript witnesses of the Old English Bede.
The New Philological approach that this paper will adopt will read the Old English apocryphal adulation of the Archangel Saint Michael, within its immediate manuscript context and establish its textual relationship to Chapters XI to XIII from Book V of the Old English Bede. The objective of this approach is to counter the idea that the physical relationship between the manuscript’s marginalia and the Old English Bede is “probably fortuitous” (O Keeffe 69), by arguing that the Old English homily in praise of the Archangel Saint Michael is thematically and contextually linked to the chapters of the Old English Bede that it accompanies, as it frames chapters of an equally evangelical nature.
Through this careful codicological examination of this intricate textual relationship in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41, this paper will provide an interesting insight into the early medieval textual culture that not only produced and shaped Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41, but read, studied and annotated this manuscript as well.
~ Lunch ~
14.00 – 15.30: Panel 6
Chair: Dr. Karen Moloney
“Who amongst ‘em knows not Barabas?”: Christopher Marlowe’s Stage Jew
Grendel’s Mother and the Victorian Ideal in Beowulf Translation
Since the beginnings of Beowulf’s translation, Grendel’s mother, the second antagonist of the Old English poem, has been characterised as a “monstrous hell- bride” (1259, Heaney), and an “inhuman troll-wife” (2120, Tolkien) who has “terrible hooks” (1503, Alexander) and “piercing talons” (1505, Liuzza). She has generally been represented as an evil and monstrous being with little exception when it comes to translations, adaptations, and scholarship on the poem. However, such an image of her is debatable when her character is analysed in the original Old English of Beowulf. In fact, as M.W. Hennequin asserts, “the poem constructs her as a noblewoman and a brave opponent” (“We’ve Created a Monster”, 513). Because of Grendel’s mother’s status as antagonist, and because of her deviation from the ideal Victorian lady (as can be epitomised in Coventry Patmore’s poem “The Angel in the House”) she has been characterised in beast-like and demonic terms, much like William Thackeray’s “diabolically hideous and slimy” (239) Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair, and other women who stray from the passive ideal of the Victorian Era.
I wish to explore how the social attitudes towards women during 1800’s, have affected our contemporary view of Grendel’s mother, through their influence on the translation of Beowulf.
Nature and the Solitary Female in Eilis Ni Dhuibhne’s “The Inland Ice”
The protagonist of “The Inland Ice” is Polly whose husband Frank is dying. The couple travel to Greenland to come to terms with Frank’s illness, their shared past and the future they will not share. Polly goes for a walk. Venturing out alone on foot, she is searching for understanding in the rugged, isolated landscape of Greenland. The landscape Polly encounters facilitates the interweaving into the narrative flashbacks to the previous few days of her holiday, memories of her marriage, and references to Greenland’s history of conquest and colonisation. Inverting the Romantic notion of the solitary male figure who seeks refuge in a passive, static conception of nature, Ni Dhuibhne’s protagonist interacts with and is affected by the active, multilayered landscape of Greenland.
Using theories of ecofeminism and intertextuality, this paper argues that Ní Dhuibhne represents deep connections to rural landscapes as a way of reconciling multilayered relations of place and memory. Intertextuality, Julia Kristeva’s theory of language as multi-layered and interconnected, is helpful for analysing Ní Dhuibhne’s fiction which references and reimagines historic events and people, folklore, and mythology to represent the complicated interrelation of memories, places and experiences that make up lived reality. In its subversion of the structural opposition between nature and culture, ecofeminism offers an understanding of deep genealogies and the need to move beyond rigid hierarchies. This paper discusses how the layering of time and memory in the landscape helps Polly to understand and accept her experiences.
Ben Jonson and the “shutting up of his circle”
During “The Induction; or, Chorus” to Ben Jonson’s The Magnetic Lady: Or, Humours Reconciled, the Boy that is introducing the play, to Masters Probee and Damplay, sets the play up as the conclusion to a trilogy. The Boy speaks of Everyman in his Humour, Everyman out of his Humour, and The Magnetic Lady as being Jonson’s sustained study into bodily humours, where the latter brings the study to a close and completes the circle; this paper examines the merits of this claim. Everyman in his Humour and Everyman out of his Humour are examined within their Elizabethan context. The adoption of satire as a mode of moral instruction is noted. The Magnetic Lady is situated firmly within the Caroline period. The move towards romance, that is characteristic of Jonson’s later plays, is explored. Finally there is a discussion about whether Jonson is really interested in the “shutting up of his circle” (Ind. 97), or whether he is just trying to mount a comeback after the dismal failure of The New Inn.
~ Coffee Break ~
15.45 – 16.30: Plenary Speaker
Dr. Donna Maria Alexander
“Curious Parallels” in Lorna Dee Cervantes’s “Letters to David: An Elegiac Mass in the Form of a Train”
Cervantes tells Alex Stein in an interview that, when asked by a graduate student to narrow down the meaning of her poetry, she answered “‘Death’,” noting that one could not possibly adequately critique her first collection without considering this theme (644). Indeed, death and mourning are also thematic hallmarks of Chicano poetic traditions, as asserted by Bruce Novoa who states that he has “considered calling the elegy the paradigmatic model of Chicano literature” (Chicano Poetry 7).
While Cervantes’s poetic approaches to death are multifaceted, ranging from traditional consolatory elegies to anti-elegies, and from critical to experimental elegies, this paper focuses on a single long poem, “Letters to David: An Elegiac Mass in the Form of a Train” which is the penultimate volume of her third collection, Drive: The First Quartet. This elegy presents an interesting hybrid of autobiography and biography, splicing together what Cervantes calls the “curious parallels” between their life experiences (201).
These “curious parallels” are the subject of this paper: the striking and unexpected comparisons that are drawn between a privileged white male and a working class Chicana woman. Cervantes transcends the boundaries of race, class and gender to demonstrate that death, grief and emotional pain are universal equalisers in society.
With many thanks to the School of English, and all of the delegates and attendees who have contributed to celebrating the tenth anniversary of Bookends with this wonderful event that showcases the wealth of diversity and richness in our postgraduate community, as it connects with the wider literary community in Cork.
With thanks from the Bookends 2015 Committee