Ulysses for Everyone

Join us for a Bloomsday in Melbourne one day Masterclass
– and finally get into one of the twentieth century’s truly great novels!

Marilyn Monroe was photographed by Eve Arnold, reading Ulysses (1955). “[Monroe] kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time […] When we stopped at a local playground to photograph, she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her.”

Join Joycean expert guides Frances Devlin-Glass and Steve Carey as they present a fast-paced, fun and fascinating masterclass on this wonderfully funny, life-affirming and much-misunderstood book.

Where: Online, via Zoom (link will be sent when you book)
When: 10am-5pm Sunday 14th November 2021
Cost: $80

Day includes:

  • The key to reading Ulysses for the first time
  • Where to get started (and which bits to save till later on)
  • What it’s all about
  • What Joyce wanted to do with Ulysses
  • Who’s who when he’s at home: a guide to the main characters and to Dublin 1904 (including the historical and political climate)
  • Extracts from the book
  • Guide to online resources and tools
  • Link to the complete audio recording

“Over more than a quarter of a century, through Bloomsday in Melbourne’s theatrical productions and our courses, we’ve introduced thousands of readers to Ulysses. Now we invite you to join us. You don’t need any prior knowledge at all, and we absolutely promise you won’t be put on the spot! We’ll be sharing some of our very favourite passages – and some of the juiciest bits too – and we guarantee that by the end of the day you’ll know this wonderful book a whole lot better, and have a really good idea of how to read it. After this day, there’ll be no stopping you!”

Frances Devlin-Glass, Artistic Director, Bloomsday in Melbourne

To give you the best possible experience, attendance at this session is limited to 15. Book now to avoid disappointment! 

This event is a fundraiser for Bloomsday in Melbourne, enabling us to pay our Director, actors and staff for our delayed Bloomsday production, now happening in February 2022. Every cent is going straight to them!

Ulysses was published in Paris on James Joyce’s 40th birthday, 2nd February 1922. When presented with the first reviews, Joyce asked, rather sadly, ‘Did no-one think it was funny?’ We do. We think Ulysses is the funniest, the wisest and the most human book, and on this day together we want to hand you the keys to unlock it, share with you the best bits and invite your own responses to the text.

This interactive course, a mix of presentation and discussion of text, assumes no prior knowledge of Ulysses, although having read the five chapters we recommend (or as many as you can manage – do what you can), anything you do know will certainly help to make the day a richer reading experience for you. Spending the day with us will help get you over the obstacles to reading, to put Joyce in a rich literary and historical context, and make clearer his innovations as a writer and thinker.

We’re firmly of the view that Ulysses is potentially for every kind of reader and that most readers need only minor assistance over the obstacles it represents. And also that it is a treasury for life, to be enjoyed almost as a different text as one is exposed to life’s exigencies. We’d love to welcome you to an ever-expanding community of readers of Ulysses. It may be 100 years old on 2 Feb. 2022, but it still very much our contemporary and still unfolding for those who love it.

But above, all: relax. We’ll have time to answer your questions, and we’ll be inviting your input, but if you’d prefer to sit quietly and just soak it all up, that’ll be fine. We’ll build in breaks so you can escape the screen, grab a coffee or a bite, or maybe link up with other course participants over a cuppa. At the end, please BYO for a social wind-down and a chat.

Here’s what we’ll be covering on the day.

Session One: What’s It All About?
An introduction to the world of Ulysses – the who, what, where, when and why. Why is it called Ulysses, for starters? What were the many difficulties, legal and otherwise that stood in the way of publication? Why does everyone talk about it? Is its reputation deserved, and why? Who was James Joyce? Using five key user-friendly chapters (1, 4, 6, 13 and 18) as orientation points (and we’ll share how to find them with you in advance so you can read them for yourself), we help you plot your way through Dublin on Thursday 16th June 1904. We’ll discuss Joyce’s revolutionary ‘stream of consciousness’ and other bold techniques that have had such an enormous influence on literature ever since. And a myriad of other matters: Why does Joyce use dashes instead of quotation marks? Why does he feed you narrative in such a piecemeal way?
Session Two: A Startlingly New Kind of Literary Work
We’ll explore Dublin in 1904, its people and places. We’ll look at the novel’s responsiveness to modernist ideas in a range of disciplines, and as a key text of modernism. We’ll discuss the Linati schema, a plan of the novel that Joyce shared with a journalist/translator, and how it disproves the common notion of Ulysses as a ‘baggy monster.’ And we’ll walk you through the book’s plot and introduce you to Stephen Dedalus, Leopold and Molly Bloom and other key characters.
Lunch break
Zoom will remain open for anyone who wants a social lunch
Session Three: Themes in Ulysses
One way to become familiar with this encyclopaedic novel is to get a grip of its key themes, which recur throughout. We’ll look at four themes: love and its many outmoded but operational definitions and practices; race; methods for locating the universal in the particular; and uncertainty as an orientation in life and in art (with comedy as its underpinning).
Session Four: Joyce as Master Comedian
We’ll step away from modernism’s seriousness and look at the book’s witplay and its conviction that comedy is the best mode to understand life itself. And we’ll bring things to a close with suggestions on how to build your Joyce-reading muscles into the future…

The course is delivered by Associate Professor Frances Devlin-Glass (Ph.D., ANU), who has been the Director of Bloomsday since its inception in 1994, and has taught Joyce at tertiary and other levels since 1980. She is a member of the College of Distinguished Deakin Educators. She’s assisted by Dr Steve Carey, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the comedy of Ulysses at Oxford University supervised by Joyce’s biographer Prof. Richard Ellmann.