Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'His Journey Westward': British Scholar Discusses James Joyce At Washington College

Chestertown – Dr. Andrew Gibson, a leading authority on the work of Irish author James Joyce, will present “His Journey Westward: Joyce’s ‘The Dead,’ Irish History, and Modernity,” at Washington College’s Rose O’Neill Literary House on Monday, October 12, at 4:30 p.m.

The event is presented as part of the 2009-2010 Sophie Kerr Lecture Series.

Written in 1907, “The Dead” became the final story in Joyce’s celebrated 1914 short-story collection Dubliners. The book’s reputation in general, and that of “The Dead” in particular, have grown over the years; many consider the collection to be Joyce’s most accessible work, and “The Dead” to be its masterpiece.

While scholarly interest in “The Dead” has been intense, the story also has left its stamp on popular culture. In 1987 it was made into a movie by John Huston; it was the great director’s last film (and a labor of love, as Joyce was one of his favorite authors). In 2000, it was adapted as a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

In his October 12 lecture, Dr. Gibson will offer valuable insight on the historical context from which “The Dead” emerged. Post-colonial Ireland also was “post-catastrophic” Ireland, a land decimated and drastically depopulated both by the mid-19th-century Great Famine and by its resultant mass emigrations.

In “His Journey Westward,” Dr. Gibson will re-evaluate “The Dead” in the light of the Famine and its consequences for Ireland.

Dr. Gibson is Research Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a permanent advisory editor of the James Joyce Quarterly. He also is a member of the editorial board of Limit(e) Beckett, the new Anglo-French journal in Beckett scholarship. His published works include James Joyce: A Critical Life, Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative and numerous other books.

The Sophie Kerr Lecture Series honors the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has enriched Washington College’s literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to Washington College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor”—the famed Sophie Kerr Prize—and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships and to help defray the costs of student publications.

Admission to “His Journey Westward” is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410/778-7879.

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