Live Blog

Live blog posts from Friday’s conference will appear here.



  1. A great start with Kate Kelly’s presentation on the portrayal of marriage in 18th and 19th century texts. Kate’s study of the promotion of modesty among women via conduct literature is very interesting.

  2. Sinead’s presentation draws parallels between the Middle English poem “Pearl” and the later children’s novel “The Water Babies”. A lovely selection of medieval art and animation accompanies this interesting intertextual analysis.

  3. Clare O’ Mahoney presentation has covered some really diverse themes! The effects of alcohol abuse on characters, the modernist artistic migration to Paris and even time travel (from Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed 2011 Midnight in Paris).

  4. Darragh de Staic has chosen to focus on the representation of Central Park (NYC) in film. Darragh chose 6 films from a broad range of genre’s and decades to set up a duality between the park’s representation as a place of danger and as a place of escape.

  5. Maria Power introduces us to the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. The series began as straightforward fantasy but has evolved over time into a highly sophisticated satire.
    Maria traces Shakespearean elements in the series. She explains how Pratchett’s witches parody Macbeth. “Elves are wonderful; they provoke wonder. Elves are glamorous; they project glamour” but “no-one ever said elves are nice” – it turns out they are psychopaths! Maria’s description of these types is really vivid. “Where Shakespeare elevates, Pratchett subverts”, in order to explore the nature of storytelling.

  6. Dearbhla Considine is focusing on Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
    Dearbhla outlines the structure of the novel – plot, framing structure, and Hurston’s use of three modes of narration: direct discourse, indirect discourse and free indirect discourse, the last of which which Hurston used to create a ‘double consciousness’ incorporating African American vernacular. Her use of black vernacular was controversial. Hurston explained her own use of vernacular this way: “The white man thinks in a written language and the Negro thinks in hieroglyphics.”

  7. Louise Murray (MA in Irish Writing) is surveying the career and work of Neil Jordan. Jordan was the first film maker to receive funding from the Irish Film Board. She describes the controversy surrounding the Film Board’s funding of “Angel”, which led to Jordan moving to England, where he made several films. Charles Haughey eventually disbanded the Film Board, but this didn’t stop Jordan, who scraped together funding for his own screenplay, ‘The Crying Game.’ Of all his 17 films, he wrote or co-wrote all the screenplays. At heart, Louise suggests, Jordan is a writer, and film is a vehicle for him to reinterpret literature. A slide of a large green chameleon vividly illustrates Louise’s description of Jordan as an artistic chameleon. At 64, Jordan continues to create new art.

  8. Rebecca French is discussing the use of medieval tropes in Disney films. Her Prezi slide presentation is super sophisticated – extremely impressive! Rebecca’s central thesis is that “evil becomes feminised when it is linked to female agency.”

    She describes how the Disney character Maleficent is associated with wild nature (e.g. lightening strikes) – she is a kind of elemental titan. We see in this film how Disney uses the trope of marriage as a key vehicle for women to gain social status. Maleficent appropriates this power, inspiring fear in men. Her character draws on the medieval trope of the dangerous old women.

  9. We’ve finished our first two panels, so we have some unscheduled time for questions. Rebecca, Kate, Maria and Sinead are responding to queries about their research sources, and elaborating on points they raised in their presentations. Really interesting to have time for this informal exchange. Learning a log about Discworld – a completely self-contained, sophisticated universe, drawing in a really sophisticated way on folklore, Shakespeare and all kinds of cultural material.
    Question for Claire now on the role of artists in the film she discussed (Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’). Claire talks about Picasso’s relationships with the Lost Generation in Paris. Claire is extremely knowledgable about this film – it’s really interesting to listen to her talk about it.
    Question for Louise now on why the Northern peace process led to a delay in the release of “Crying Game.” Louise suggests sources for Jordan’s interest in politics.
    Coffee time!

  10. Trish O’ Connor opens up the third panel with a discussion of walled gardens from early sources such as the Romance of the Rose which was a direct influence on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Moving on from this, Trish contrasted the chaste Amelia of the Knight’s Tale and the more sexualised figure of May in the Knight’s Tale to later models in Austen such as Elizabeth Eliot in Persuasian and Mariah in Mansfield Park. The walled garden becomes an emblem for female sexuality and who can access these gardens.

  11. Hugh O’ Dwyer’s presentation on the representation of robots in film was brilliant. Hugh discussed the increasing realism in robots and the growing public unease with robots that can look so like us but will always be different. He highlighted this with comparisons between Pixar’s Wall-E, a robot dissimilar enough not to cause alarm and the Terminator who is too like us and the Sonny from I-Robot who can mimic human expressions and behaviours. This is a gross over-simplification of Hugh’s presentation, sorry Hugh, but this sounds like a fascinating thesis.

  12. Ann looks at Bilsdungroman novel, a novel about the moral and psychological development of the main character. Ann explored the problems with heroes that never really grow up. Ann suggests that few novels can fit the generic model. These texts should be read as narratives of uneasy development and there is no one standard path to development. To discuss how these models don’t always work, Ann looked at the figure of Steven Daedulus in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and how we should read his eventual departure from Ireland.

    1. I’d recommend reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. It’s another example of a Bildungsroman in which the protagonist does not follow the usual path expected of a coming of age novel. Instead, she goes insane.

  13. The digital and graphic master Cathal O’ Gara is kicking things off for Panel Four. He is discussing how graphic novels provide a unique way of presenting traumatic events and traumatic memories with some beautiful and powerful slides, that effectively reinforce his argument.

  14. Chris James is exploring the role of the Joker in “The Dark Knight” and how he can be seen as a 9/11 terrorist. He is discussing how the collapse of the hospital in “The Dark Knight” recollects the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11.His examination of the end of the film, where the Joker and Batman fight each other, Chris offers some interesting insights into how good will never triumph over evil without becoming evil itself.

  15. Michelle Hayes discusses the representation of nature in Old and Middle English literature. In “Beowulf” Michelle argues that nature is described as a barbaric, hostile, and alien space. The harsh isolation of the natural world is the opposite of the warmth, comfort and security provided within the Anglo Saxon Mead Hall. Progressing to convey the transformative representation of nature in the Middle English “Pearl” Michelle argues its importance for the dreamer as Nature is described by the poet as both comforting and sustaining. In conclusion she feels that Nature is depicted negatively in Old English literature and achieves its positive depiction through the divine.

  16. James Campion, last but certainly not least, is the closing speaker for Panel Four with his presentation “The Links between Poetry and Pickpocketing”. With an excellent use of slides and comic timing James thoroughly explores Mangan’s practice of verbally pick pocketing. “A poet should have as much conscience as a pick pocket”, is just one out of several examples where James effectively quotes Mangan to convey his ventriloquising poetic art.

  17. This panel has inspired some interesting and intriguing questions! Dr Davies is revisting his Old and Middle English knowledge by discussing the representation of nature with the erudite Michelle.

  18. Tiarnan O’ Sullivan is presenting on “The Psychedelic New World: the Newest Western”.
    Tiarnan introduces us to Leslie Fiedler was an American critic (1917-2003). He drew on the concept of Ultima Thule (any place beyond the borders of the known world) to develop his idea of the “Newest West”, a domain of the mind.
    Tiarnan proposes using the idea of the “Newest Mind” to analyze Alduous Huxley’s novels “Heaven and Hell ” and “the Doors of Perception.” Tiarnan suggests these novels are kinds of travel literature, though dealing with psychic travel rather than physical. In these novels, Huxley explores his experience of taking mescaline, derived from the peyote cactus. Huxley describes a kind of psychic Ultima Thule he experiences while on mescaline.

  19. Peter Mahony’s presentation is titled “Poetry on Trial”
    Peter queries the concept of free speech as embodied in the US First Amendment, which, he suggests, results in certain poetry being characterized as dangerous speech. Ezra Pound is one such poet, marginalized for his support of Mussolini (reflected in the Cantos). In a similar vein, Pound compared fascism to Confucianism (Canto 53). Pound was arerested in Italy in 1945 and interrogated by the FBI. He spent three weeks in a “death cell” (photo illustration provided).
    Peter describes other ‘dangerous poets’, such as Walt Whitman and the Beats of the ’50s. He contests that certain poets, with their ‘too sensuous’ language, would become, by contesting the mores of the United States, almost criminal in their practice.

  20. Daire O’Donoghue is speaking on “Interactivity, Art and Video Games.” He is inspired by Paul Valery’s suggestion that technology means “profound changes are pending in the realm of the beautiful” (approximate quote!)
    Daire looks at the concept of aesthetic engagement, an idea of Arnold Berleant, proposing active engagement with art.
    He comments that music in video games tends to be atmospheric these days, but used to be much more baroque.
    Daire contrasts Baudrillard’s statement that “Games are serious, more serious than life” with Roger Eberts’ claim that video games “can never be art”.
    Apparently Ebert suggested that if Romeo and Juliet were a game with a variable ending, the tragedy inherent in the play would be lost. Daire disputes this.
    Daire reviews some games he considers exemplary, and says why; for example, a good game has an overbearing sense of isolation.
    ***Game over!*****

    Questions now, first from Rebecca, who was impressed by the idea Daire touched on that anything interactive can’t be art. She asks Daire if he agrees that the idea of the gallery is ‘over’, art has moved into the street/video games/ places of ‘low culture’. Alex Davis comments on this point that galleries can’t really fail because street artists like Banksy can always be incorporated back into a gallery. Orla Murphy adds that there are games producers functioning in this way – small producers producing games for the love of it. Orla disagrees fundamentally with the idea that games can’t be art. Hugh suggests that the arcade is a kind of gallery, and arcade culture is thriving.

    QUestion for Laura (who spoke on Adicihie) on Adichie’s famous TED talk (about the dangers of the ‘single story’). This TED talk gave her a public profile and an opportunity to share her own stories (as opposed to the stories she writes). The theme of these TED talks runs through Adichie’s novels too, Laura suggests.

    That wraps up Textualities2014!

    Thank you for checking us out.

  21. I really enjoyed the live blog from my seat on the train to Dublin. Well done everybody! Sounds like a great presentation of fascinating topics.

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