Event

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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Music and Sound Studies Reading Group

On Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 The Music and Sound Studies Reading Group will convene to discuss Anahid Kassabian's Ubiquitous Listening: Affect, Attention, and Distributed Subjectivity, 2013. Kassabian's study explores how our music- and sound-saturated world changes the ways we listen. Join us as well as scholars from other area schools for a great conversation. The event will take place from 4-5:30PM in room 341, Quinn Library, Lincoln Center Campus, 113 W. 60th St.

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Quartet Metadata Concert at Fordham LC, Nov. 14

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Professor Lawrence Kramer is organizing a concert on Tuesday, November 14th at 7:30PM featuring new works performed by Quartet Metadata at the 12th Floor Lounge of Fordham's Lowenstein Building, 113 W 60th St. (at Columbus Avenue). This event will be free admission. The Quartet Metadata, will play recent compositions for string quartet by Carter Burwell, Shelley Washington, and with guest artists. This event will also be the premiere of Wingspan for String Sextet by Lawrence Kramer as well as Brahms's popular String Sextet no. 1.

For more information about this event check out 

https://musicandsoundstudies.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/quartet-metadata-in-concert-nov-14-730pm/

Boyd Day, Poetry, and Pizza

Tomorrow, November 7th, from 12:15-2:00 in McGinley 234, all are invited to read aloud poetry and listen to others. Come in for, "a slice of pizza and a slice of sonnet," even if you can't stay long! Tomorrow will be the 8th anniversary of John Boyd Day and it will include some of Father Boyd's favorite poets.

Father Boyd taught at Fordham for over three decades. He was born in the Bronx, and earned his PhD at Harvard University. Poetry was his main focus and passion throughout his career. In 1968, he published The Function of Mimesis and Its Decline with Harvard University Press. In this book, he focused on the ways in which poetry should be engaged with the world. After father Boyd passed away, the Boyd Chair was established in his honor. 

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Alum of English Department and LALSI to read in Poets Out Loud

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This year's inaugural event in Fordham’s poetry reading series, Poets Out Loud, features a poet with many connections to our university. Melissa Castillo-Garsow received her M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Fordham. She was a graduate assistant for the American Studies Program and also holds an Advanced Certificate from LALSI, the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute. And a further connection:  her publications include a novel co-authored with Fordham University African and African American Studies Professor Mark Naison. On the occasion of that novel's publication, English Connect interviewed Castillo-Garsow.

 

In accepting the invitation, she let us know how pleased she is to be returning to Fordham for this reading—a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, she is currently living in the Boston area--, and we are very pleased to welcome her back.

Castillo-Garsow's engagement with issues of immigration and Mexican culture runs throughout both her poems and the dissertation she wrote at Yale, entitled “A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture.” And much of her work engages with connections between African-American and borderlands studies.  Writing about her poetry, recently published in Coatlicue Eats the Apple, the distinguished Latino poet Willie Perdomo (himself a former Fordham faculty member), observes that it “subvert[s]  sacred symbols with angsty, humorous rebellion.”  Both thatpowerful poetry and her wide ranging publications in other fields—they include  co-editing (with Jason Nichols) La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades, and editing  ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latino Poetry--demonstrate why we are proud to include her in our first reading.

This reading also includes another impressive poet and fiction writer,  Donna Masini, who teaches at Hunter College. Her third book of poems, 4:30 Movie, is forthcoming; she is also the author of two other collections of poetry, entitled Turning to Fiction and That Kind of Danger, and of the novel, About Yvonne.

This event will take place at our Lincoln Center campus, 12th floor lounge, on September 25 between 7 and 8:15 PM . Like all the readings in Poets Out Loud, this is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served, and all audience members have the opportunity to win a free inscribed book by one of the poets.

Fordham Hosts June 2017 Conrad Conference

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During the opening keynote lecture of “Conradian Crosscurrents: Creativity and Critique,” organized by the Joseph Conrad Society of America, Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero asserted that Heart of Darkness “vibrates and hangs on the reader’s doors of perception.” In the audience, scholars and students of Conrad were already finding that the conference, too, was providing them with pieces of knowledge that would hang on their minds long after its conclusion.

 Held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, and at the Kościuszko Foundation on June 1-3, 2017, the conference sought to reassess Conrad’s position at the cross-currents of contemporary creative and critical work of all kinds. Distinguished and emerging scholars presented papers on topics such as sound studies, race, science, history, politics, and biography. Along with Cavarero, James Clifford, J. Hillis Miller, and the novelist Margaret Cezair-Thompson gave keynote addresses. Co-sponsored by Fordham's Comparative Literature program and the English department, and with funding from the Dean of Arts & Sciences Faculty and the GSAS Dean, the conference was organized by Chris GoGwilt, Professor of English and Comparative Literature.

The steering committee for the Joseph Conrad conference. 

The steering committee for the Joseph Conrad conference. 

Three recent graduates of Fordham’s English MA program – Ryan Gilligan, John Miele, and Lindsey Pelucacci – also presented papers. Speaking on Heart of Darkness, Ryan argued for Marlow’s configuration as an incomplete Buddha who emerges as a fool at several points throughout his narration. Focusing on The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus,’ John Miele discussed the white liberal voice that commands the text, and Lindsey Pelucacci addressed the logical contradictions within the narrator’s sense of truth as a racialized construction.

For more on the conference, including photographs of events and accounts of keynote lectures, please visit the website.

Thanks to Lindsey Pelucacci for writing up this story

Fordham Welcomes Robin Coste Lewis, 2017 Reid Writer

On April 25, some 400 members of the Fordham community filled Keating 1st Auditorium to hear poet Robin Coste Lewis, the University’s 2017 Reid Writer, give a talk and a reading. Lewis’s poetry collection Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf, 2015) won the 2015 National Book Award—the first poetry debut to do so since 1974.

Lewis’s talk took the form of a lyric essay and covered the research methodology and process that she undertook to write the poetry collection’s titular piece. “Voyage of the Sable Venus” is a narrative poem made up entirely of titles of artworks from across centuries of Western art that feature or refer to the black female figure.

She said the idea for the project first came to her in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit on American colonial furniture. It was there that she saw a chair whose legs consisted of carved figures of four miniature black women and whose seat was being supported by their eight arms. Soon after, she noticed that the figures of black females existed everywhere as artistic ornaments. She saw that “our whole artistic history [is] crawling with the decorative bodies of black women.”

It was not until she happened across the painting after which her poem is named that the idea for the project fully emerged, she said. She recalled how she fell in love with the both the title and the painting itself—the image of a black woman drawn by dolphins across the sea and attended to by gods, in the tradition of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.

She then wondered “if we went back, if we went all over the world and looked at every object, every statue, every painting that included a black female figure in any way, and wrote every title down, what would art’s epic sing then?”

Lewis talked about her research project and its methodology, which included visiting museums, churches, and courthouses in search of the black female form. Delivering her talk in a  lyric style which gave insight into the poet’s intimate relationship to her project, she described her work as “taking 38,000 years of art history and condensing it down to 79 pages.”

Following her talk, Lewis read “Plantation,” another poem from her collection, after learning that several English classes had analyzed it in their study of her work, and that it had created some debate among Fordham’s English faculty.

Lewis took a question from a Fordham student in the audience: “Why do you think this book is important? Why should I buy it?”

Calling the question “one of the best questions I’ve been asked in a long time,” she answered that she hopes the book condenses important scholarship on art, race, and beauty into a form that is accessible to readers.

This article first appeared in Inside Fordham.