Irish Studies

Symposium: Waiting for Godot

You’re invited to join us for a symposium on one of the great works of world literature, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a work that is as fresh and resonant today as it was when it debuted in Paris in 1953. 

The Iconic Druid Theater Company is in town to perform Beckett’s irreverent masterpiece, and they’ll be on hand to join in the discussion with several leading Beckett scholars. Details below.

We hope to see you there!  

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Remembering Frank Kerins, Longtime English Faculty Member

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Frank Kerins, GSAS ’74, ’81, a native New Yorker who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Fordham and then shared his talents with the community as a professor of English literature, died on Nov. 8. He was 70.

Kerins began teaching at Fordham as an adjunct instructor immediately upon graduation. In 1998, he joined the faculty full time as a clinical assistant professor, a position he held until 2009, when he became a lecturer of English. He retired in 2016.

In 2003, when he was honored with the University’s Bene Merenti award, Kerins was lauded as the “embodiment of the ideal scholar drawn in Chaucer’s Clerk (from The Canterbury Tales).”

“Frank is erudite yet modest, a master of his field reluctant to display his learning but eager to share it, a teacher whose gifts come not from a desire to press student minds into a pre-cast mold but rather from an insatiable curiosity about literature and the world it reflects,” the citation read.

“To the English department, he brought a remarkable teaching presence, the full value of which has emerged only over the years. His encyclopedic knowledge of the Renaissance and Early Modern literature has become a resource for colleagues that renders the Internet superfluous.”

Mark Caldwell, Ph.D., professor of English, who was Kerins’ doctoral mentor and longtime friend, noted that he was also stellar in his role as the English department’s liaison to students on athletic scholarships—sympathetic to the challenges they faced, yet uncompromising in demanding their best work.

Research was not a requirement of his position, said Caldwell, but he nonetheless shared his vast knowledge in papers such as “The Deification of Corley in ‘Two Gallants,’” (2009), and “'Sounding Strangely in My Ears:' Foregrounded Words and Joyce’s Revision of ‘The Sisters,’” (2008), both published in Joyce Studies Annual.

Kerins is survived by his wife Loraine Kerins, his brother, John, and his sister, Mary.

This story was originally published in Fordham News, and was written by Patrick Verel. 

Irish Literature Students Spend an Evening Immersed in Joyce

 

Three students from Professor Keri Walsh’s “Texts and Contexts: Modern Irish Literature” course were among the lucky few invited to participate in the dress rehearsal for this year’s production of The Dead, 1904, an immersive theater adaptation of James Joyce’s “The Dead.”

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“The Dead,” the concluding story in Joyce’s 1914 collection Dubliners, is one of the most beloved and resonant works in Irish literature. It is set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Dublin, at the end of the Christmas season. In it a couple—Gabriel and Gretta Conroy—arrive at the home of their aunts for an evening of merriment and melancholy. They dine, dance, hear music, and give toasts. All of those assembled---with the exception of one intoxicated guest named Freddy Malins and one full of political passion named Molly Ivors--try their best to suppress their differences in the name of harmony and “Irish hospitality.” At the immersive production, Computer science majors Zainab Shaikh and Chenelle Simpson, and Environmental Science major Lauren Beglin were seated at the head table alongside the actors. They were served a holiday feast inspired by the one in the story, and they were drawn into the events detailed by Joyce. The performance took place at the American Irish Historical Society on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in a townhouse that evoked the period in which the story is set.

As the evening neared its end, the audience was invited up one flight of stairs to witness the climax of the story: Gabriel and Gretta’s confrontation in which she remembers a lost love of her youth. This scene, staged in a darkened room with only a bed in it, allowed Lauren Beglin to reconsider the opinion she had formed of the story’s protagonist. She commented that, “In my initial reading of 'The Dead,' I did not have a very high opinion of Gabriel, especially in his treatment of Gretta in the final scene of the story. Seeing this scene brought to life, however, completely changed my view of him. Instead of a whiny man who could not bear the idea of his wife having a life before him, the actor's performance recast him as a heartbroken man who loved his wife with all his heart and soul, but would never be able to truly express that to her because of her past, and would never be able to live up to her idea of love. It was a scene that humanized a character I formerly hated and completely changed my experience of 'The Dead.' " Chenelle Simpson found that the production helped her to draw new connections between Irish writers. She realized that the characters of Gabriel and Gretta might be based not only on Joyce’s own life, but also on the experiences of one of his important precursors: “The last scene enabled me to acknowledge the relationship between James Joyce and William Butler Yeats,” said Simpson. “The story reminded me of Maude Gonne who also suffered a loss [that of her child], and how Yeats, like Gabriel, was unable to receive her ideal affection. Yeats, being such an inspiration at this time and being only seventeen years older than Joyce, could possibly have influenced the characterization of Gabriel.” Zainab Shaikh found herself impressed by the feats of acting required in immersive theater: “one of the major lessons I learned was about the art of being in character but also connecting with your audience….How can they keep us feeling comfortable? Do we communicate on the basis that it's 1904 or 2017? They gracefully responded to all of our interactions and wove them into a great production. Their hospitality truly immersed me into Joyce's world, their humor allowed me to loosen up and the intimacy of the vast set (as paradoxical as that sounds) allowed for one on one interactions that seem to be missing from many theatrical shows.”

This year marks the second holiday season in which Dot Dot Productions, in collaboration with The Irish Repertory Theatre and The American Irish Historical Society, will be staging Joyce’s story. "The Dead," 1904 runs from November 18th to January 7th. It is directed by Ciarán O’Reilly and adapted by Paul Muldoon and Jean Hanff Korelitz.

check out more information about the event here.

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11/21--Irish Novelist Anakana Schofield to read from her work

Anakana Schofield, author of Martin John and Malarky, will read from her work on Monday, November 21 at 4pm at Fordham's Rose Hill Campus. 

Schofield is the author of the 2015 Giller Prize shortlisted, acclaimed novel Martin John and the award-winning novel Malarky (2012) Malarky won the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the 2013 Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction in the United States and was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. It was named on 16 Best Books of 2012 lists and was selected as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. She has written for The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Globe and Mail, The National Post and the London Review of Books blog.

“Deploying some serious literary gumption," Eimear McBride writes of Martin John, "Schofield’s frequently hilarious, and distinctly modernist, linguistic games are always gainfully employed in the uneasy, indelicate task of placing her reader nose to nose with the humanity of a sex offender — and a sex offender’s mother.”

Come hear Schofield read from her work at Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus (Walsh Library, O'Hare Special Collections) on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21 at 4:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Institute of Irish Studies at Fordham University.

 

On Bloomsday, Some Thoughts from Keri Walsh on Translating Ulysses

James Joyce's Ulysses is set on one day: June 16, 1904. In honor of its main character, Leopold Bloom, the date is celebrated around the world as Bloomsday. Fordham English Professor Keri Walsh--editor of the Broadview Press edition of Joyce's Dubliners as well as of The Letters of Sylvia Beach--today published a piece on the Literary Hub site titled "The Horrors and Pleasures of Translating Ulysses: Finding the Polylingual Pleasures of Joyce's Prose in French Translation."  Professor Walsh's piece begins:

Bloomsday—June 16th, 1904—is the day on which James Joyce’s Ulysses is set. Among the usual annual commemorations of the date in Dublin, New York, Trieste, Sydney, and beyond, Bloomsday will also be celebrated in Paris, the city where the book first appeared. The American Library in Paris, an institution that was founded two years before Ulysses was published in 1922, will play host to the 2016 festivities.
French speakers have been able to read modernism’s magnum opus in their native tongue since its first translation in 1929. The French Ulysses, called Ulysse, was produced by a team… [read more]

An Afternoon with Anne Enright

Fordham University's Institute of Irish Studies will welcome Anne Enright to campus on Sunday, April 17. Enright is the author of three short story collections and six novels, including The Gathering, which won her the 2007 Man Booker Prize and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year award. The event, hosted by novelist Yvonne Cassidy and Fordham Professor Keri Walsh, will commence at 3 p.m. in the Bateman Room of the Law School building (Lincoln Center campus). All are welcome to attend.

Waking the Feminists at Fordham

The Waking the Feminists movement visited Fordham University on Sunday, Feb. 28. According to Lisa Tierney-Keogh, playwright and organizer of the movement, it’s time “to kick the door down.”

Waking the Feminists arose in response to the Abbey Theatre’s centennial commemoration of the 1916 Rising in Ireland. Of the ten plays in the theatre’s program, only one was written by a woman and three were directed by women. Waking the Feminists seeks equality for women in Irish theatre.

 Speakers at the day's event

Speakers at the day's event

The movement met for a symposium at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. The event featured both a Scholars’ Panel and a Practitioners’ Panel, and it was covered in The Irish Times.

Speaking on the Scholars’ Panel were Montclair State University’s Lucy McDiarmid, Princeton University’s Clair Wills, Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Abby Bender, New York University’s Kelly Sullivan, Seton Hall University’s Elizabeth Redwine, Manhattan College’s Deirdre O’Leary, and Union College’s Claire Bracken. University of Connecticut’s Mary Burke was the panel’s respondent, and Fordham University’s own Keri Walsh, who organized the day’s event, moderated the discussion.

Speaking on the Practitioners’ Panel were Tierney-Keogh, lighting designer Jane Cox, actress and producer Alison McKenna, comedian Maeve Higgins, director Nicola Murphy, and playwright Honor Molly. Novelist Belinda McKeon moderated the discussion.

The scholars discussed important women of Irish theatre, including Lady Gregory, Sara Allgood, Maud Gonne, Marina Carr, Ursula Rani Sarma, Lady Aberdeen, and Annie Horniman. Redwine pointed out that Sara Allgood, for example, challenged prejudices of acting role/body type correspondences. Bender pointed out that Marina Carr’s plays subverted gender stereotypes and eviscerated “the piety surrounding the shrine of Irish motherhood.” Respondent Burke relatedly stressed the importance of acknowledging the various points-of-view among women in theatre.

 Members of the Practitioners' Panel

Members of the Practitioners' Panel

The practitioners discussed their own challenges in Irish theatre.

“Because I was born a girl, I had a less than 15% chance of actually getting my play on stage in my own country’s national theatre,” said Tierney-Keogh.

Murphy discussed how, as a director, she typically has to boost the confidence of actresses, while only having to offer technical advice to actors.

Higgins recounted her experiences of speaking on the radio and having many people call in to complain that they dislike the sound of her voice. “I’m not the one who needs to be fixed,” Higgins said.

Everyone stressed that change requires action. Scholars like Sullivan expressed the need for professors to try to have more women represented on their course syllabi. Molloy, in a performance essay that invited audience participation, urged everyone to remember the strong women of the past and to see each other’s plays. The support of one another, everyone pressed, is the best weapon to combat long-standing prejudices.

“Yes, the patriarchal society still exists,” said Tierney-Keogh, “but what a team of warriors to fight it.”