Faculty Forum (Works in Progress) Events for Fall 2011: Sealy Gilles & Maria McGarrity

The English Department is happy to announce the revival of our Faculty Forum series, which has been on hiatus since 2008.

The Faculty Forum promotes scholarly activity among full-time faculty members in the English Department by providing them with the opportunity to circulate their research among colleagues. Interested faculty then respond to the circulated work over wine and cheese, offering feedback for the work's revision and collegial support towards it publication.

Click here to see a list of past presenters.

Note: Participation in this forum is open only to full-time faculty members in the English Department and is distinct from the Conolly College Faculty Forum.  English-Department graduate students are invited to attend.

For more information about the series, contact Professor Harriet Malinowitz (English Department).

This semester, there will be two Faculty Forum events:

Sealy Gilles, “Proliferations: Text and Disease in Early Modern London”

Friday, September 16, 2011
3:30-4:30 PM (immediately after the English Department faculty meeting)

The following is Professor Gilles' description of her talk:

Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the restrained, sometimes elliptical treatment of disease in medieval English and continental texts gives way to increasing hyperbole and grotesquerie – often centered on women, sexually suspect men, and foreigners. The shifting dynamics of disease discourse are particularly evident in early modern accounts of Criseyde or Cressida, the treacherous lover of Troilus, prince of Troy. By the seventeenth century, portrayals of Cressida and other sexual deviants draw upon a wide repertoire of invective and vituperation taken from the rhetoric of epidemic diseases, especially those illnesses that write themselves upon the skin.

However, the same lexicon that supplies Thersites in Troilus and Cressida with his stream of abuses is put to a very different use by Shakespeare’s contemporary, Thomas Dekker, the pamphleteer and playwright. In plague pamphlets written during the epidemics of 1603 and 1625, Dekker champions the sick and calls city authorities to account for their abandonment of the poor. His diffuse and extravagant polemics employ the discourse of disease in a very different arena, one in which corporeal disintegration is used to chastise and shame the powerful.

The forum will concentrate on excerpts from late medieval and early modern texts. We will take a look at the urban context that shapes these works and the rhetorical stratagems they employ in the service of emerging political and sexual agendas.

Maria McGarrity, The 'Indecent Postures' of Island Cricket: James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.

Friday, November 18, 2011
3:30-4:30 PM 
(immediately after the English Department faculty meeting)

The following is Professor McGarrity’s description of her talk:

As the first chapter of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man closes, Joyce inscribes a remarkable sporting image on the geography of his island. He writes, “the sound of the cricket bats: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain falling softly in the brimming bowl” (59).  Joyce creates a striking image of cricket amid the island as a slight mass of terra firma that is somehow created by and susceptible to incursion from the sea at once.   In a later moment of geographic formation, Joyce connects Ireland’s “islanding” not only to the sea but to its remnants across maritime borders, those “few last figures in distant pools” (151).  Joseph O’Neill’s contemporary account of the Irish Atlantic world as imagined in a displaced, wounded New York post 9/11 rests upon the Irish island imaginary of James Joyce.  O’Neill shows that the very circularity within the Atlantic world represents not simply the imaged geographies of Ireland, of New York, and Trinidad but that all of these locations function as a psychic Netherland and in fact as nether-islands.  All of these locations host cricket matches that question respective island identities.  For Joyce and O’Neill, specifically shape metaphors, allusions, and critical settings of their narratives habitually in terms of the propinquity of the sea on their cricket pitches to highlight the vulnerability of the home island.  Such unlikely geographic affiliations exist not simply within O’Neill’s work but also reach back to a fundamental trope in Irish literature of the sea as a metaphor for history and the island as a wounded geography in Ireland’s globalized imagined community.

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