Onthergarmenteries: Zurich Workshop, August 2-8, 2020


The Zurich Joyce Foundation has recently opened applications for its highly acclaimed annual Joyce workshop in 2020. The workshop–which will take place between August 2nd and August 8th, 2020–will focus upon “[c]lothing, in all possible aspects” as its subject matter. This particular gathering will be held in memory of Clive Hart and Rosa Maria Bosinelli.

In addition to its yearly focus, participants will have multiple opportunities to explore Zurich, where Joyce lived at multiple points in his life (particularly when the Joyces gained Swiss asylum from Nazi-occupied France during World War II) and where he is buried with his family. They are also encouraged to arrive early or leave late in order to explore the Zurich Joyce Foundation’s extensive Joyce resources.

As per Workshop tradition, space is limited to a maximum of twenty participants. The reading of papers (a common practice in most literature conferences) is strictly prohibited at the Workshop; instead, presenters are expected to have improvised talks. Also, the Zurich Joyce Foundation charges a fee of 200 Swiss Francs (~$203.56 USD) for the workshop to cover activities and expenses.

Anyone interested in participating in this workshop should email Fritz Senn (fritzsenn@mac.com) and/or Tim Conley (tconley@brocku.ca) with the Joycean nonword “Onthergarmenteries” in the subject line.


86th Anniversary of the Woolsey Ruling


December 6 marks the anniversary of one of the most influential rulings for both First Amendment activists and Joyceans alike. On this day in 1933, Judge John Munro Woolsey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York lifted the U.S. Customs ban on Ulysses.   

In 1920, the joint editors of The Little Review, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, were charged with obscenity for the serialized publication of Ulysses. In 1921, Ulysses was found to be obscene, and it was subsequently banned from publication in, as well as importation into, the United States. Ulysses would remain under a U.S. Customs ban until 1932, when Random House, which had the rights to publish Ulysses in America, and Morris Ernst, a prominent civil-rights attorney, imported a copy of Ulysses from France and demanded that it be seized. The seizure of the book resulted in Woolsey’s famous ruling in the 1933 case, “United States of America vs. One Book called ‘Ulysses’,” and is widely viewed as laying the groundwork for the publication of Random House’s 1934 edition of Ulysses, which even used Woolsey’s ruling as a piece of front matter.

As part of the anniversary of this monumental ruling, Project MUSE is making Kevin Birmingham’s article, “The Prestige of the Law: Revisiting Obscenity Law and Judge Woolsey’s Ulysses Decision,” freely accessible and downloadable for the public from 12/6/19 until 12/13/19:
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/589943. When asked for comment on the decision, Project MUSE Marketing Manager Abe Novick, stated: “We set out to amplify our publishers’ content to a broad spectrum of MUSE followers and especially when it aligns with historical occasions. Sometimes, those events are still all too relevant today.”

Dr. Birmingham’s article, which was originally published in JJQ 50.4, offers a much more substantial explanation of the events surrounding the case, as well as an exploration into Woolsey’s contributions to American jurisprudence.


Issue 56.1-2: “Anniversary Joyce”


“every ephemeral anniversary”: “Finnegans Wake at 80″ Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 11-13 April 2019
Cleo Hanaway-Oakley

Dublin Celebrates the Wake’s 80th Birthday: “Finnegans Wake at 80”; “Lucia Joyce: Perspectives”; “Text/Sound/Performance: Making in Canadian
Space”; and “Finnegans Wake-End,” 11-13 April, 25-27 April, and 3-5 May 2019
Derek Pyle

“Joyce Without Borders”: A Report on the North American James Joyce Symposium, Mexico City, Mexico, 12-16 June 2019
Tiffany L. Fajardo

“A Pineapple Revolution”: The North American James Joyce Symposium
“Joyce Without Borders,” Mexico City, Mexico, 12-16 June 2019
Layne Farmen and Emma-Louise Silva


Anniversary Joyce: Introduction
Wim Van Mierlo

Sots, Songs, and Stereotypes: 1916, the Fighting Irish, and Irish-American
Nationalism in Finnegans Wake
Brian Fox

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Toneite
So Onose

Queensberry Rules and Jacob’s Biscuits: James Joyce’s Easter Rising
Greg Winston

Reading Alternative Irelands Through Joyce’s Ulysses in the 1920s
John McCourt  

T. S. Eliot’s Views on James Joyce: The Harvard Teaching Notes
John Nash  

Ulysses in Beunosayres: Leopoldo Marechal’s Encyclopedia Argentina Norman Cheadle  

The Riddle of the Brocken Spectre: Reading Finnegans Wake on the Top
of Croagh Patrick
Katherine O’Callaghan


William S. Brockman


Penelope Says Robert Berry


Modernism and the Law, by Robert Spoo
Katherine Ebury  

The Real People of Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Biographical Guide, by Vivien Igoe
Terence Killeen  

“Pomes Penyeach”: Pomi un Penny L’Uno/ Poesie una Pena L’Una, edited and
translated by Francesca Romana Paci
Annalisa Federici  

James Joyce and the Philosophers at “Finnegans Wake,” by Donald Phillip Verene
Dieter Fuchs  

Textplicating Iconophones: Articulatory Iconic Action in “Ulysses,” by Nurit Levy
Congrong Dai  

A History of Irish Autobiography, edited by Liam Harte
Emer Nolan  

The Making of Samuel Beckett’s “En Attendant Godot”/”Waiting for Godot,”
edited by Dirk Van Hulle and Pim Verhulst
The Making of Samuel Beckett’s “Fin de Partie”/”Endgame,” edited by Dirk Van Hulle and Shane Waller
Alan W. Friedman

Modernism and Latin America: Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange, by Patricia Novillo-Corvalán
Vanessa Marie Fernández  

Perpetual Carnival: Essays on Film and Literature, by Colin MacCabe
Cleo Hanaway-Oakley  

Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish: Essays, by Tom McCarthy
Aaron Jaffe



In Memoriam: Brenda Maddox

We at the James Joyce Quarterly were saddened to learn of Brenda Maddox’s passing last Bloomsday, June 16, 2019, at the age of 87.

Brenda Maddox was an American author and journalist who won wide critical acclaim for her biographies of figures ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to William Butler Yeats to Rosalind Franklin. In particular, her 1988 biography of Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, earned the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Silver PEN Award, and the French Prix du Mailleur Livre Etranger. Written at a time when the women surrounding male authors were given little scholastic focus–noted Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann wrote Maddox a letter disapproving “book-length studies of people who are clearly not of great importance in themselves”– Maddox’s biography of Nora provided a fresh and invigorating perspective on a pivotal figure in Joyce’s life.

Maddox was also a staunch supporter of Joyce studies in London and a regular participant in the recurring Charles Peake Ulysses seminar at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. The Institute of English Studies was also the host for the XXV International James Joyce Symposium (themed “Anniversary Joyce”) in 2016, and it was the last Symposium that she attended. The Joycean community is indebted to her contributions to our field.

Maddox’s papers, including her research materials, notebooks, and audio interview recordings, are currently housed in University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library Special Collections.

Interview with Professor Mikio Fuse

As Bloomsday approaches, we are delighted to publish this interview which Scarlett Baron (University College London) conducted with Mikio Fuse (University of Sacred Heart, Tokyo) about his Finnegans Wake Genetic Research Archive. It’s a useful reminder of the broad, global scope of Joyce studies–and the rich opportunities for international collaboration that continue to expand.

Mikio Fuse is Professor inthe Department of English Language, Communication and Cultures, University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo . His specialism lies in textual genetics, and, specifically, in James Joyce’s composition of Finnegans Wake. His main project is the construction of a Finnegans Wake Genetic Research Archive. He is a frequent contributor to Genetic Joyce Studies, in whose electronic pages he has provided numerous emendations to existing transcriptions of Joyce’s notebooks. He has also written about the presence of Japanese and Japanese culture in Finnegans Wake.[1]

How did you discover Joyce’s works? 

I first read Ulysses as an undergraduatein the English Department at the University of Tokyo. Hiroshi Ebine, the professor assigned to me as a mentor, was a brilliant scholar who led a year-long seminar on Ulysses. He was also a terrific teacher – one of the few Japanese people I have encountered who can really read Ulysses.

How did you build on this initial interest?

First, I elected to study for a Master’s degree in the same Department. Second, I seized a chance, after I’d completed that course, to travel to Dublin and immerse myself more fully in the works of the author who by this point had come to captivated me above all others. I enlisted in a Master’s programme at University College Dublin and ended up staying in Ireland for two and half years. The experience completely changed my views of life and language. I spent most of my time exploring the city, delighting in exposure to its perpetual shower of words. It was at this stage that I began to dedicate myself to Finnegans Wake. On my return to Japan, I re-enrolled at the University of Tokyo and set to work on a PhD on Joyce’s works.

Was your doctoral work genetic in its approach?

Although I had started transcribing manuscript documents during my time in Dublin, at that stage I still had no acquaintance with genetic criticism. My thesis fell squarely within the parameters of traditional humanistic enquiry as it was carried out in the 1980s and 1990s. The research I carried out for my thesis was on Joyce’s treatment of identity and, specifically, on his cultivation of authorial impersonality.

What do you regard as your central academic project?

I am trying to understand how Joyce created Finnegans Wake. To this endI am constructing The Finnegans Wake Genetic Research Archive.[2] This involves translating the contents of Joyce’s notebooks and manuscripts into the language of computer code, and then using this digital representation of the documents to map the relationships between the stages of the book’s composition. My work can be divided into two principal strands. On the one hand, I use Joyce’s notebook entries to identify the textual sources of Finnegans Wake, establishing what he was reading and when, and (though this is a far more complicated question) determining what aspect of the Wake in mind. On the other hand, I chart the specific use Joyce made of these sources by tracing the journey of each notebook jotting into the published work. As a sideline to this core research, I am collaborating with Robbert-Jan Henkes on an even more arcane endeavour to reconstruct Joyce’s ‘lost’ notebooks – notebooks which, on the basis of textual evidence, we positonce existed.[3]

You mention the translation of Joyce’s texts and avant-textes (to use the parlance of genetic critics) into computer code. How did you acquire the requisite skills for such an undertaking?

When I first started to study Joyce’s manuscripts, I relied solely on searchable Excel spreadsheets to organize the data I was harvesting. Excel is a perfectly serviceable software programme as far as such information storage is concerned, but as a means of using the harvested data to achieve more than simple word searches it leaves much to be desired. In 2012-3 I was granted a period of sabbatical leave and decided to spend the time studying with Asanobu Kitamoto, a computer specialist based at the National Institute of Informatics here in Tokyo. Under his guidance I taught myself to convert the data I had already accumulated into the TEI (or Text Encoding Initiative) XML format, thus making it ready for deployment on the Archive’s online platform.[4]

Do you regard your project as pertaining to the sciences or the humanities?

The coding component is scientific. But decisions as to how to encode literary documents demand forms of interpretation and understanding which are specific to the humanities.

At what point do you expect your Genetic Research Archive to reach its destination on the World Wide Web?

I am currently still in the process of encoding Joyce’s manuscripts for the Wake. The task will take me another year at least. Once that is done, I will turn my attention to Joyce’s notebooks. Encoding those will take around ten years. The total project – the production of a truly comprehensive and fully functional dynamic database – will not be completed in my lifetime. My aim is to establish a foundation upon which others can build – a system underpinned by a strong methodology and governed by a rigorous protocol for the integration of future revisions.

Does this encoded representation of Joyce’s notes and drafts help answer questions about the published text of Finnegans Wake?

What I am creating is a research archive or, to put the emphasis elsewhere, a research tool. I do not see it as my task to answer questions definitively. I am not creating an edition, such as that which was being issued in the volumes of the (now suspended) Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo, or that showcased by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon on the site of their James Joyce Digital Archive.

What would you pinpoint as the principal differences between the James Joyce Digital Archive, launched in June 2018, and your own Genetic Research Archive?

There are some noteworthy differences. What Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon have produced on their beautifully designed website seems to me to warrant description as a reader’s edition rather than a researcher’s archive. Their intention is to provide an accurate, authentic text for the reader, and their expertise eminently qualifies them to do the job. My archive, by contrast, is set up to allow the researcher not just to access and browse the data I have harvested but also to verify my transcriptions and analyses and add to them as new sources are discovered and their relationship to Joyce’s drafts established. I take this provisional, ‘work-in-progress’ approach because I strongly believe that the Wakean geneticist’s work is never done. The decipherment of Joyce’s various styles of handwriting, the search for the sources of his notebook entries, the mapping of the relationships between his manuscripts and his notebook jottings, the restoration of the ‘lost’ notebooks: these are all enormous and ongoing projects. Serious Joycean geneticists know that these tasks are so vast as only to be achievable through collaboration. My dream is to provide a dynamic matrix which will facilitate large-scale, integrated cooperation among genetic scholars.

How important is it for literary research to marshal the potentialities of new technologies?

I think it is very important and I very much look forward to a time when technology will be harnessed far more fully than it is now. The invention of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s completely altered the state of play, providing a phenomenal tool for the Joycean source-hunter. It was an especially great boon for someone like me living so far from libraries of European books and journals. But beyond the massively enhanced search power it afforded the scholarly community, the World Wide Web, also seems to me significant for enabling us to see the complex structure of Joyce’s manuscript archive in a new light, as a paper Web. Joyce has emerged from the internet age as a kind of human scanner. What we have discovered about his note-taking over the past two and a half decades is that he was often interested in reading documents as a scanner would ‘read’ them – that is, in practising an intentionally superficial mode of engagement driven more by the urge to excerpt words and phrases than to respond to a text’s ideas. As such, his jottings seem to offer a window into the functioning of the brain, a glimpse into how the mind interacts with print, an insight into the reuse involved in creative acts.

It is an exciting time to be a Joycean. As more and more diverse kinds of documents are made available online, scholars can draw on ever more extensive and sophisticated machinic assistance in their navigation and analysis of Finnegans Wake’s urtexts. The opportunities for technologically aided progress are still momentous. Take the James Joyce Archive. Its 63 volumes are an invaluable resource. But in the era of the Internet and Google Books there’s so much room – and so much need – for improvement. The accessibility online of an exhaustive high-resolution, technicolour scan of every item of Joyce’s archive (such as Google Books, for example, could provide), would immediately open up new possibilities for exploration and lead the way to answers which have so far proved elusive.

What is the point in analysing what Joyce so painstakingly synthesized?

The mental ‘scanning’ I’ve just described is of course not the only process documented by Joyce’s manuscripts. The ‘scanned’ materials inscribed in his hand were the necessary components of his creativity. Genetic critics are not only interested in acting as palaeontologists – excavating and tabulating the origins of literary fossils – but also in trying to extrapolate from such particulars to emit hypotheses about the creative process itself.

How frequent are your contacts with the global Joycean community?

I have contacts with genetic Joyceans both on and off a mailing list I started in the 1990s and which comprises around 15 members. The group is not as active as it used to be, but over the years many of its participants have been extremely helpful to me, generously sharing unpublished notebook transcriptions and cheering me on when I stumble upon useful information. Geert Lernout, whom I first met through this virtual channel, was instrumental in enabling me to spend a year in Antwerp studying Joyce’s transition notesheets with his colleague Dirk Van Hulle, and in introducing me to many other genetic scholars. Robbert-Jan Henkes, with whom I continue to collaborate a good deal, has also been a highly encouraging interlocutor.

With so much awe-inspiring source detection and computer wizardry to your name, do you feel any closer to understanding what Finnegans Wake is actually about?

I have read it time and again, at different levels, by different methods; I go from sound to sound, from word to word, from chapter to chapter. But will it surprise you if I tell you that, having dedicated decades of my life to this book, I feel not a single bit wiser about it than when I began. This might strike some as a cause for frustration, but I just marvel at the uniqueness of a text which can make even old hands like me feel like complete beginners.

Is there a sense in which the contemporary enthusiasm within Joyce studies for a computer-powered form of source study reflects a collective resignation in the face of the impossibility of making sense of the Wake as a stand-alone text?

That is a view one can take. I see the Wake’s resistance to established modes of meaning-making as exalting rather than depressing. I’m tempted to sound a more provocative note too, by asking whether such questions – about sense and meaning-making – are as sound as they might seem, and, indeed, whether they are not on the verge of becoming outdated.

Do you think of Finnegans Wake as a successful work of art? Do you think of it as artat all?

To me it is definitely art, because it is an entity created with extraordinary care and labour and because it articulates what non-artists do not know (or feel the need to know) how to articulate.

And what is that?

To me what the book tries to articulate is twofold. Firstly, it deals with what life is (as against, or along with, what it is said to be). It is about what we are, what we do, and what we cannot resist doing. Secondly, it is about how blind and deaf and mute we are to all that lies beyond what we think we see and hear and say. To me, these basic human limitations are what Joyce, through the development of his wondrously impossible language, sought both to foreground and to overcome.

[1] Mikio Fuse, ‘Japanese in VI.B.12: Some Supplementary Notes’, Issue 7 (Spring 2007), http://www.geneticjoycestudies.org/articles/GJS7/GJS7mikio

[2] Mikio Fuse, ‘Introduction to The Finnegans Wake Genetic Research Archive (in Progress): Part 1. The Document Data,’ Genetic Joyce Studies, Issue 17 (Spring 2017), http://www.geneticjoycestudies.org/articles/GJS17/GJS17_Fuse

[3] See Robbert-Jan Henkes & Mikio Fuse, ‘INSIDE D1, Genetic Joyce Studies, Issue 12 (Spring 2012), http://www.geneticjoycestudies.org/articles/GJS12/GJS12_Henkes_Fuse

[4] Mikio Fuse and Asanobu Kitamoto’s work on the project is set out (in Japanese) in ‘Groundwork for a TEI-based Digital Genetic Archive’, Proceedings of IPSJ SIG Computers and the Humanities Symposium 2012, 2012-11, 143-150, http://id.nii.ac.jp/1001/00087014/

Bloomsday Festival 2019

The James Joyce Centre, in Dublin, has announced the schedule for their 2019 Bloomsday Festival. It will feature a wide array of events and speakers on a range of topics including multiple walking tours, a “Ulysses Haiku Project,” a discussion on how to imagine Lucia Joyce, a pub crawl, and an interview with Senator David Norris.

Space in each of the events are limited, and they are filling up fast. If you plan to be in Dublin, click on the links below and sign-up for a spot!

June 10th

June 11th

June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 15th

Finnegans Wake at 80 in Dublin

History of Joyce Music by Sara Jewell

Finnegans Wake, the book that has baffled and delighted readers since 1939, turns eighty this year. To celebrate this monumental publication anniversary, there are multiple events scheduled in Dublin this spring, which explore the book through a variety of academic, artistic, and popular approaches.

The festivities begin April 11-13 with “Finnegans Wake at 80” , a symposium organized by Sam Slote at Trinity College Dublin. With an emphasis on genetic analysis of the text as well as Joyce’s manuscripts and notes, the symposium features three days of academic presentations and includes keynotes by Chrissie Van Mierlo and Tim Conley.

“James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is many things,” says Sam Slote, “but it is not always easy to agree about which things it may or may not be, a book of ‘changending constancies’, a ‘laughsworth of illformation’, and a ‘hiberniad of hoolies’. Its playful and mesmerising obscurity have elicited numerous responses and reactions in the eighty years since its first full publication.”

The symposium is significant because it marks a major shift in the way Finnegans Wake is received in academic circles. “When I was graduate student, papers – let alone whole panels – on the Wake at Joyce symposia were few and far between,” explains Slote. “Whereas for the past ten years or so, symposia have been filled with many excellent papers and panels on the Wake. ‘Finnegans Wake at 80′ is, I believe, only the third conference fully devoted to the Wake and, certainly, the first in Ireland.”

In addition to the scheduled papers and presentations, the symposium’s roundtable on translating Finnegans Wake with Congrong Dai; Robbert-Jan Henkes & Erik Bindervoet; Enrico Terrinoni is sure to provide fascinating perspective on the Wake’s multilingual nature. “With its many languages, Finnegans Wake could be said to be about translation,” says Slote, “and likewise, in some weird, even perverse manner, translation is about Finnegans Wake — that is, the Wake tells us something about what translation can and cannot do.”

The “Finnegans Wake at 80” symposium is sponsored by the Trinity Long Room Hub, the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, the Making Ireland research theme, and the James Joyce Centre, Dublin. On Friday, April 12, the Joyce Centre will also host a special Wake reading group for symposium speakers.

Immediately following the symposium conclusion on Saturday, April 13, Genevieve Sartor is organizing a special afternoon event entitled “Lucia Joyce: Perspectives,” in the Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity and supported by the School of English.

“The event will feature presentations and performance to explore the qualities of Lucia’s character, her influence on contemporary writers, playwrights and dancers, as well as her impact on Finnegans Wake,” explains Sartor. While taking place at Trinity College, Sartor seeks to make thoughtful approaches to Lucia and her legacy more accessible, and the event is geared toward a general audience.

The festivities continue at the James Joyce Centre with the “Finnegans Wake-End,” May 3rd through 5th, with a full programme of events supported by Ireland’s Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The “Wake-End” features Gavan Kennedy’s “Finnegan Wakes Film Project,” a participatory project that captures readers around the world reading from the Wake. Kennedy previously filmed readers at the Ossenmarkt plaza in Antwerp during the 2018 James Joyce Symposium. Kennedy and Wake scholar Finn Fordham also ventured to Burning Man to record readers on the playa last September.

Kennedy asks participants to read their passage while accompanied by a piece of instrumental music, which he finds helps readers to find a rhythm within the daunting text. “The goal is to bring Wake’s lyricism to life, and in doing so, to invoke meaning in an otherwise often ungraspable work that has baffled many a determined journeyer,” explains Kennedy.

The filming project is perfect for the Joyce Centre, which seeks to bridge academic and popular audiences through innovative yet accessible approaches to the legacy of Joyce, an author often championed but seldom read in his home country. “This event provides a valuable opportunity either to get to know Joyce’s last work for the first time, or to deepen knowledge one already has,” explains Terence Killen, the Centre’s Research Scholar, who leads a reading workshop on Saturday afternoon of the “Wake-End.”

In addition to three nights of filming — two nights at the Joyce Centre, and Sunday night at Sweny’s Pharmacy — the “Wake-End” will feature a walking tour, evening performances, and a panel discussion led by Centre manager Jessica Peel-Yates and featuring Gavan Kennedy, Genevieve Sartor, and Derek Pyle. Pyle, best-known for his project Waywords and Meansigns, co-produces the “Wake-End” with the Joyce Centre, and he will also curate an audio-visual installation for “Finnegans Wake at 80.”

As Finnegans Wake marches into its eighth decade, the Joyce’s famously obscure work shows no signs of disappearing into the past. As Sam Slote explains, “the past few years have been a very interesting period for Wake studies with much new significant work, especially from younger scholars.” While met with dismay and confusion from many would-be readers upon its first publication in 1939, perhaps the 21st century is the book’s golden era.

Clever, Very: Nuala O’Connor

Recently, Nuala O’Connor won The JJQ’s fiction contest, which asked participants to submit their own version of the short story titled “Ulysses” that Joyce briefly considered adding to Dubliners.  Her prize-winning entry appears in JJQ 55.1-2. As part of our ongoing “Clever, Very” series, we interviewed Ms. O’Connor about her contribution, and about her writing more broadly. She is the author of four novels, six short story collections, and four books of poetry. “Gooseen,” about Nora Barnacle, won the UK’s 2018 Short Fiction Prize, was published in Granta, and was shortlisted for Story of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. Currently, O’Connor is currently writing a novel based on the life of Nora Barnacle.

James Joyce Quarterly- There are references to Joyce and his work throughout your writing. Could you tell us a bit about how you first encountered Joyce and discuss the impact that he’s had on you as an artist?

Nuala O’Connor- I grew up in County Dublin, in the Liffey Valley, not far from Chapelizod; the bus I took to school in the city centre went over the Anna Livia Bridge, passed the Mullingar House, and, later on its journey, the House of the Dead. So, Joyce has always been around me. He felt like one of us – I too am half Murray, but haven’t found a link with Joyce’s mother, sadly – but what I mean is, even though he was famous, he felt like one of us, he spoke the language of my people, his scenarios were very recognisable to me, they seemed current, though I grew up in the seventies and eighties.

Also my parents collect books of Irish interest, so there were always copies of Portrait, Dubliners, etc. to hand at home. When I got serious about writing, Joyce was one of the people I looked to and continue to look to. I’m a fan of black humour and word bending and I always enjoy Joyce’s playfulness.

When the Irish Writers’ Centre approached me to rewrite a chapter of Ulysses for the twenty-first century I chose the Penelope episode. In my reworking, ‘Penny and Leo and Married Bliss,’ there’s Penny, stuck in a Dublin suburb and contemplating an affair with the local priest, while deciding whether or not to make dippy eggs for her hungover husband. Penny’s voice was a joy to invent, using Molly as inspiration and guide. But, with a tight word-count, I could only write so much. For my last short story collection, Joyride to Jupiter, my editor recommended that I flesh out the story and I happily obliged.

And now, of course, I’ve been steeped in Nora Barnacle (and beloved Jim) for nearly two years, researching, and writing a novel about her, provisionally titled Barnacle. That has been, and continues to be, a joy.

JJQ– Could you tell us a little bit about how you approached the topic of reconstructing or reinventing the “Ulysses” story that Joyce supposedly abandoned? Did you attempt to write your submission as you think Joyce would have written it, or did you try to write a Joycean narrative in your own style?

O’Connor- I tried to ape Joyce’s style in Dubliners, the sort of clipped, factual nature of some of what he writes and the more colloqial parts when people have conversations. It was enormous fun as a challenge, and I wrote it organically, not planning very much. I live in Galway and am from Dublin, so I feel I have an ear for the speech in both places. I tried to weave in recognisable Joycean titbits; such as the Nora and Uncle Tommy episode, the little we know of Alfred Hunter and his Marion, Nora’s self-possessed carriage when she met Joyce, Broderick as baker like Mr Barnacle.

JJQ– In your story, the narrative focuses primarily on male characters, yet the narrative seems to be driven by women whose voices are largely absent. Why is that, and was this a conscious decision on your part?

O’Connor- The first image that came to me was a Galwayman – Mr Broderick – on the Dublin quays, slightly awed, making his way to find his daughter (an imagined amalgamation of Uncle Tommy and Mr Barnacle). I wasn’t sure if he’d find or accost her, so I just rambled with him and the story seemed to unfold by itself, with just a few questioning prods from me. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision to have a bunch of silent women – I write a mix of male and female voices in my short fiction, whereas my novels are all female-voiced. But stories find themselves as you write them, in my experience, and my “Ulysses” unfolded that way and it seemed to work.

JJQ– Why do you think that people should read Joyce, either within or outside of an academic setting?  How do you think our understanding of his work has changed and why do you find yourself returning to his life so often in your own art?

O’Connor- Oh, readers are missing out if they ignore Joyce. He’s such a beautiful, careful, and humorous writer. I definitely think people are put off by the conversations surrounding the difficulties of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. It’s not that they’re easy books, but there’s a lot to recognise, enjoy, and celebrate even in the Wake, which is, it must be said, a challenge. But a gorgeous one.

The writer and the life should be separate, but we’re nosy creatures, and it’s fascinating to read Joyce having looked at his life, and his plans and hopes for his works. That, for me, helps my own understanding and appreciation. It still gobsmacks me that he was in his early twenties when he wrote Dubliners. Imagine writing ‘The Dead’ at twenty! It’s mind-shattering.

JJQ– Finally, tell us more about your latest novel, Barnacle, and the decision to write about Nora.  What drew you to her as a character? How have you gone about learning more about her life?  And what surprised you the most about her?

O’Connor- I was studying Italian by night and had to write an essay about Joyce’s friendship with Italo Svevo and got really into it. Around the same time, we rescued a one-eyed cat and I called her Nora Barnacle. I’d loved Brenda Maddox’s Nora when it came out, and often thought about this wonderful feisty Galway woman who became a true European as well as a patient, enduring muse. The idea occurred to me to write about her, but much like when I began to write my novel about Emily Dickinson, I thought ‘This is too audacious. The scholars will bay for my blood.’ But, I got over that quickly and wrote my short story ‘Gooseen,’ which was well received, just carried on, and here we are. I’m in Paris as I talk to you, I’m writer-in-residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais for a month, and I’m working on the novel here while trotting around some of the Joyces’ nineteen addresses and various other haunts.

I suppose what surprised me about Nora was that she put up with their peripatetic life. I mean, I know she didn’t love it, and she complained and threatened to go back to Ireland, but she stuck with Joyce through all those moves, and never did get that permanent home that she longed for. I was at their grave in Zürich recently, and it struck me that John Joyce was right, Nora really did ‘stick with him,’ right to the very end.

Issue 55.1-2


“It darkles, (tinct, tint) all this our funnaminal world”: The Zurich James Joyce Foundation Workshop, 5-12 August 2018
Mikaela Kelley


Introduction to “Encyclopedia Joyce”: On Being Very Big
James Blackwell Phelan and Kiron Ward

Ulysses, Annotation, and the Literature of Information Overload
James Blackwell Phelan

Filling in the Gaps: “Ithaca” and Encyclopedic Generation
Philip Keel Geheber

“Poised on the Threshold”: The Unfinalizability of Joycean Encyclopedism
Tamara Radak

“Everything you Always Wanted to Know: Ulysses and the Eukuklios Paideia
Jay Dickson

Paradise on the Periphery: The New Bloomusalem and Bloom Cottage
Kiron Ward

Ulysses in Beunosayres: Leopoldo Marechal’s Encyclopedia Argentina
Norman Cheadle

Lexis as Census: James Joyce and Gertrude Stein’s Approaches to the Peopling of Ulysses and The Making of Americans
Georgiana Nugent-Folan


William S. Brockman


Penelope Says
Robert Berry

Nuala O’Connor


Joyce Smithy: A Curated Review of James Joyce in Visual Art, Music, and Performance– Joyce in the Times of Trump and #MeToo (2017)
Christia-Maria Lerm Hayes and Derek Pyle


Joyce and the Law, edited by Jonathan Goldman
Thomas F. Cotter

A “Finnegans Wake” Lectionary: Let James Joyce Jazz up Your Voca(l)bulary, Bill Cole Cliett
Tim Conley

Moving Modernisms: Motion, Technology, and Modernity, edited by David Bradshaw, Laura Marcus, and Rebecca Roach
Scott Herring

James Joyce and the Phenomenology of Film, by Cleo Hanaway-Oakley
Matthew Berger

Joyce and Lacan: Reading, Writing, and Psychoanalysis, by David Bristow
Luke Thurston

Reframing “A Portrait of the Artist” : Joyce and the Phenomenological Imagination, by Stephen McLaren
Damon Franke

A History of the Modernist Novel, edited by Gregory Castle
Ellen Scheible

Modernism, War, and Violence, by Marina MacKay
Michelle McSwiggan Kelly

Modernist Afterlives in Irish Literature and Culture, edited by Paige Reynolds
Cóilín Parsons

Hopeful Hopkins: Essays, by Desmond Egan
Alex Assaly

Handbook of Irish Revival: An Anthology of Irish Cultural and Political Writings 1891-1922, edited by Declan Kiberd and P.J. Mathews
John Wilson Foster


Jim LeBlanc


Reading Ulysses in High School—For Fun!

Imagine a bunch of high school students staying after school in order to dig into Joyce’s Ulysses.  Although it sounds ambitious, that is exactly what a group of students are doing. Dylan Emerick-Brown is an English teacher at Deltona HS in Florida and he describes how he has managed to draw a surprisingly large group of students into this challenging literary odyssey.

As an English teacher, who teaches English II and AICE/Cambridge General Paper, I am always trying to find new and interesting ways to bring literature to life and engage my students. As such, I decided to incorporate my passion, the works of James Joyce, into some of the units. I was apprehensive, at first, given the daunting depth of Joyce’s works, but thought that the challenge was well worth the effort. I had proactive, talented students eager to learn; so, I created a few units that would throw them into the winding streets of early 20th century Dublin. To my surprise and joy, some of the students expressed an interest in Joyce and wanted to pursue additional opportunities beyond the classroom and dig deeper.

Following my first quarter unit on “The Dead” and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in my AICE/Cambridge 10thgrade class, I offered my students an ambitious and voluntary opportunity: spend the remaining three-quarters of the academic year meeting after school every Thursday, for an hour, to discuss an outlined reading of Ulysses, to be accompanied by written papers on topics of their choosing. Because I’m not a complete lunatic, I offered grade remediation in class for work completed on Ulysses to prove mastery of any missed standards. Permission forms were handed out and to my surprise about a dozen students signed up!

We average an episode per week, taking two weeks for some of the denser ones. Students read in their spare time, taking notes and jotting down questions. When we meet at the end of the day in our library’s Learning Commons, nestled in a horseshoe-shaped couch with a flat screen smart TV, we start going through the episode page by page. We discuss highlights, pose and attempt to answer questions, discover allusions between the novel and Homer’s The Odyssey, and marvel at all the parallax and attention to detail that went in to every character’s dialogue and behavior. I frequently use the TV, connected to my laptop, scenes in Dublin from the episode we are discussing, mini-narrations, brief synopses from YouTube, as well as other resources from the James Joyce Centre.

On Fridays, any students who would like to get a road map synopsis of the next episode can stop by my classroom during lunch. This way they know what’s coming up and have a resource to help them navigate some of the challenging curves and road blocks of Ulysses. When we got to the “Calypso” episode, introducing Leopold Bloom, in order to show the otherness of the protagonist who, despite being Irish and catholic (converted), is constantly seen as an outsider, I fed the students fried lamb kidney (hard to come by, easy to cook) just the way Bloom liked it. Their disgusted faces said it all. But they walked away understanding on a fundamental level how even subconsciously, through his choice of food, Bloom is definitely “other.”

I also engage by students through researching and writing papers of their choosing. I have a classroom library of Joycean books which I have collected over the years, including issues of the James Joyce Quarterly, that they can use for research. Some of their self-chosen topics include: an in-depth analysis on Stephen’s riddle from the “Nestor” episode; a study on the psychosomatic impotence of Leopold Bloom pertaining specifically to Molly; a look into Stephen Dedalus’s inherited poor sense of economics as symbolic of a colonized Ireland; and two papers delving into how Leopold Bloom, the perpetual “outsider” seeks assimilation while Stephen Dedalus, the native Irishman, rejects home, country, and God.

It is an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. I strongly suggest anyone interested in pursuing Joyce studies with high schoolers put aside intimidation and skepticism and welcome the challenge of creating a new generation of Joyce scholars.