CFP: Catching Joyce

Stephen Dedalus famously declared his intention to ‘fly by’ the nets of nationality, language and religion. One hundred years after the publication of UIysses (1922), this symposium asks where Joyce might be ‘caught’ in the widest senses of that word. Can, or should, this famously elusive and arcane novel be pinned down, like Proteus on the beach? Does it deliver its meanings through scholarship? Annotation? The power of critique? Do we study Joyce in order to ‘catch him out’, to expose his tricks, allusions and wordplay? Or do we read him much more gently and coaxingly, in order to catch him in the sense of ‘attachment’?

From another perspective, participants might consider Joyce in the time of Covid. Do we ‘catch’ Joyce, like a virus? Some readers describe being taken over by a Joyce obsession or addiction, which can run for years? Are the strikingly ubiquitous Ulysses or Finnegans Wake reading groups a manifestation of that contagion? Can we, by extension, speak of Joyce’s power and influence as ‘endemic’ in our literary culture? Can we catch him in flight as far away as Australia? How has Joyce fared here and how has he caught on?

Call for Papers

We invite participants to reflect on the theme of ‘catching’ Joyce from any of these perspectives or more. James Joyce has sometimes been caught – in the sense of confined – by a specialist Joyce industry. We are keen that this conference is inclusive and liberating in all senses, and we welcome those who don’t regard themselves as Joyceans. We often catch things unwittingly, or obliquely: we are caught off guard, we snag a thread on something. We are particularly keen for researchers in other disciplines who might catch Ulysses in this way. We are keen to hear from scholars from other fields: Hellenists, Shakespeareans, psychologists, psychoanalysts, Jewish studies, musicologists, for example, are warmly welcome to participate. Traditional 15-20 minutes presentations are welcome. So too roundtables, seminars or themed group presentations amounting to 15-20 minutes per participant. Please send 200-300 word abstracts for proposed papers by 1 April 2022 to:

Professor Ronan McDonald
Gerry Higgins Chair of Irish Studies
University of Melbourne