Welcome to UCC’s Textualities Conference 2017, Panel 3.
The chair of Panel 3, Josephine Fenton, introduces the presenters, outlines their MA programs, wider research interests and the titles of their presentations. All presentations are delivered in the pechaKucha format, which is a presentation comprising twenty slides taking twenty seconds each.
The first speaker is Cian O’ Connor, whose presentation is on the work of Flannery O’Connor, titled “A Circle in the Text: Flannery O’Connor and the New Critics”. Cian gives a brief overview of Flannery’s work, which is surprisingly small; a total of four books, two novels and two collections of short stories. (I was surprised to learn Flannery is a woman). Flannery is a southern American mid century writer and her work is Gothic in nature and shockingly violent. Cian explores Flannery’s involvement with the New Critics and the school of formalism. Cian explores her work in the context of the critique of the hermeneutic circle. Applying this critical lens opens new ways to interrogate her work. FLannery’s work focuses primarily on the metaphysical and religious and less on the social issues of the time. Cian’s presentation is supported by strong visuals which highlight the points very well.
The second speaker is Eimear Sheehy and her presentation is titled “Capitalism, Greed and Conflict in the Works of Caryl Churchill”, which is Eimear’s research interest. Eimear analyses three plays by Churchill, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Far Away, and Mad Forest. Churchill is a radical, feminist playwright whose work is dense in content, different, diverse in form, and focuses on contemporary themes. Churchill’s work highlights economic and political principles critical of capitalism. Two of the plays, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire and Mad Forest are based on real military conflicts, the English civil war and the Romanian revolution respectively. The plays deal with topics ranging from capitalism’s conflict with creativity, conflict both- internal and external, morality, and the struggle for power and possession of property. Diversity, naturalism, realism and surrealism are key features of her work. A particular feature of interest is the unique ensemble aspect of her work and her integrity in relation to her political positioning. Another visually stimulating presentation.
Third up is Louise Mackey whose presentation is on, “Masculinity in contemporary Irish film”. Louise’s primary interest is the perspective of the young male. Louise highlights a number of specific works, firstly Lenny Abrahamson’s film What Richard Did ( check out Louise’s recent blog post for an in depth insight, https://scealmilis.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/what-richard-did-a-film-about-failure/) and, secondly, a recent RTE mini drama series Pure Mule, set in a rural midland county. The works cover themes ranging from a male perspective such as: sibling rivalry, sexual rivalry, male friendship, masculine competition, disaffection, an unfulfilling/ mundane work and life, or unemployment. Another topic of interest is emigration, again from a male perspective. Louise was influenced by a film seen during the course, Road to God Knows Where, which drew attention to young men’s difficulties and challenges, particularly, their difficulties surrounding a reluctance to leave, their sense of isolation and ability to cope. One of the plus points of the pechakucha format is it encourages a strong visual content, and another presentation delivers.
Finally, but by no means least is UCC’s activist extraordinaire Ellen Reid! A Gloria Steinem in the making if ever I saw one. Josephine highlights Ellen’s ongoing dedication and contribution to marginalized causes which results in a well deserved round of appreciation from the audience. We all sit back and opine, but it is Ellen who gets down and dirty and does! Ellen’s presentation, titled, “Stand in Awe of Mna” explores Ellen’s research interest in contemporary female poetry as revolutionary. Ellen brings a unique, real life perspective to the the power and potential of activism. Ellen’s research interest highlights the problems of Ireland’s media culture in relation to recent Irish activism, such as the water charge protests, the waking the feminist project, and repeal the eighth campaign. Ellen argues women and other marginalized groups have always been outside history and cites the marginalization and tokenism of women in the 1916 commemorations as an example. The poetry of Eavan Boland, Sarah Clancy and Elaine Feeney are of particular interest. The concepts of demythologizing women, connecting with global resistance and taking an international perspective in respect of revolutionary poetry are current areas of interest. Check out Ellen and UCC femSoc at https://www.facebook.com/UCCFemSoc
A very interesting Q & A follows. Suggestions to Ellen regarding her research interest includes: from Cody Jarman, the potential of an overlap with the black arts movement. Another, from Donna Alexander, suggests considering protest poetry as theory, as some Chicana poets/poetry are positioned. Suggestions for Louise’s consideration come from Geoff Gould, who proposes the possibility of including the prevalence of young male suicide in Irish society and a number of texts are suggested. Also Cliona O Callchoir raises the potential of class difference in terms of masculinity. Annie Curran suggests the double male protagonist film genre as a source of further research for Louise. Cody Jarman instigates a very riveting discussion with Eimear in relation to Caryl Churchill regarding a potential conflict/tension between her political ideals, especially in relation to her promotion of shared autonomy and her position as the [person of authority/power as author]my words. It certainly provokes a stimulating and interesting discussion.
So that concludes a brief overview of a stimulating, thought provoking, and very interesting panel. Congratulations and many thanks to all the contributors and Chair.