Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bloomsday!

Happy Bloomsday everyone! This day is not just a big one for Joyce fans around the world, but Bloomsday 1956 marks the anniversary of the wedding of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. As fate would have it, it was Bloomsday 2010 that I received the letter informing me of my successful Ph.D. funding application - so it is a good day all-round!

I have been very busy recently. Finished up with all my teaching and marking and am now working hard to finish a chapter draft for my supervisor. I had a serious period of malaise at the end of May, but have tried not to let this get me down and keep plugging on with writing. This week however, was a welcome break from stewing over my desk: I attended a Leadership in Action course run by Vitae. This three-day course was challenging and interesting - if definitely made me consider how I lead others, how I lead myself and my own projects. I think these types of courses are very beneficial for Arts students because we can spend months holed up in libraries and not learning transferable skills that might be beneficial in the job-search post-Ph.D.!

After completing the course, I headed down to Dublin to soak up some of the Joycean atmosphere and to meet up with some fellow Plath scholars. TCD and UCD hosted the
XXIII International James Joyce Symposium this week, an event that attracted Joyce scholars and enthusiasts from all over the world to the fair shores of Ireland. I was thrilled to meet Amanda Golden, who presented a paper entitled "Expanding the James Joyce Archive: Midcentury Pedagogy, Modernism and Poetics." Amanda completed her Ph.D. on Plath, Berryman and Sexton and it was a thrill to meet her and converse about all things 1950s American poetry! She also introduced me to Gillian Groszewski who is completing her Ph.D. thesis on Ted Hughes at Trinity College Dublin. It was my first time meeting a Ted Hughes scholar (Hughesie!) and I have to say, enjoying the company of these two exceptional ladies was one of the nicest evenings I've had in a long time!

Myself and Gillian: Plath + Hughes!
Amanda, Gillian and I at The Bank on College Green, Dublin.
Myweekend will be spent tinkering with the chapter draft I've written so far, and adding on a few more bits and pieces. I've made a brilliant new friend in recent months: a girl studying philosophy and political theory - she has thrown some wonderful theories and theorists my way. So while some days I do feel alone and stupid and the worst in the world, the brief glimmers of "wow - this really works!" make the down days more bearable. I'll finish this blog-post by recommending an absolutely fascinating post by Miss Vagabond Language on The Female Malady. This post is a must-read for anyone interested in the position of women in the Victorian era, the relegation of women to a "silent" sphere, women writers/artists and the various masks they have been forced to inhabit, and anyone with an interest in art. Zoe condenses many of Elaine Showalter's (writer of the book, "The Female Malady") findings into her post and has challenged me to think about art (and portraiture) in different ways!

And finally, as it's Bloomsday I'll finish this blog with some Joyce related images. If you get the time, tune into BBC Radio 4 who are broadcasting "Ulysses" all day long! So brave! Here's Molly Bloom's soliloquy - the words which finish the novel: "...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."