FIS Lectures: Nineteen hundred and nineteen

For the spring 2022 season, the Fund for Irish Studies offers a series of virtual lectures for January and February.

29 January 2022
James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats’ poem “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen”

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents a lecture by James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats and his poem “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” on the 83rd anniversary of Yeats’ death. Longenbach will give an account of William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) poem, discussing how it assumed its shape, and, more importantly, the influence of that shape on subsequent long poems written throughout the 20th century. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” was part of his first collection of poems published after the Nobel Prize: The Tower (1928). The Tower contains other long poems that contemplate the state of politics in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence, the mortality of man, and the temporariness of the world, such as “Sailing to Byzantium,” “Meditations in Time of Civil War,” and “The Tower.” Like many of the poems in the collection, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” is divided into six parts of unequal length with differing meters and rhyme schemes in each part. Titled after and written about the first year of the Irish War of Independence, the poem grasps at the idealism and nostalgia for “law”, “habits”, and “public opinion” destroyed by war and violence.

11 February 2022
Fintan O’Toole on “Open Secrets: Ulysses at 100″

Fintan O’Toole, Princeton University’s Visiting Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Professor in Irish Letters, delivers the annual Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture on “Open Secrets: Ulysses at 100″ as part of the 2021-22 Fund for Irish Studies lecture series. James Joyce’s revolutionary novel Ulysses was published 100 years ago in February 1922. In its initial review of the book, The New York Times declared Ulysses “the most important contribution that has been made to fictional literature in the twentieth century.” Through a stream of consciousness writing style, Joyce follows Stephen Dedalus, a 22-year-old aspiring poet and teacher, and Leopold Bloom, a 38-year-old Jewish advertising agent, as they go about nineteen hours of daily life in Dublin, Ireland. Both men grapple with themes of religion, philosophy, remorse, and mortality. In his lecture, O’Toole asks why the book still matters today. It is, he suggests, one of the best explorations we have of the way the local is also universal; of the fluidity of identity; of the fusion of body and mind; and of the possibility of living beyond tragedy.

These virtual lectures, presented via Zoom, are free and open to the public; registration required. Recordings will not be available to share with the public following the events.