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Modernist Studies Ireland’s: Works in Progress

October 23, 2018 @ 6:00 pm


October 23, 2018
6:00 pm


Seminar Room G011 the Hardiman Reserach Building


Tiana Fischer


























Modernist Studies Ireland’s monthly forum for new work in Irish modernist studies—Works in Progress—cordially invites you to its second session of this autumn season, taking place on Tuesday, 23 Oct, from 6-8 pm in G011 (THB), as per usual with nibbles and some wine! The event seeks to shine a light on Lucia Joyce as a collaborator and significantly understudied contributor to much of the compositional work her father James Joyce undertook in the 1930s, and which led to his probably most obscurantist work, Finnegans Wake.

Our two wonderful speakers are NUI Galway alumna Dr Siobhán Purcell and Genevieve Sartor (Trinity College Dublin), who submitted her PhD thesis last month. Siobhán will kick off the session with a talk that stresses the need to recontextualise Lucia’s letterings or lettrines. Her presentation highlights overlooked instances of Lucia Joyce’s contributions—instances which are not at all liminal and silent; once ‘illuminated’, they embody presence and performativity in that they elaborate dynamics of the written text while complicating any straightforward understanding of the most basic textual elements of print culture: semantics, lettering, typeface, and authorship. At once word and image, the lettrines work as additional contextual signifiers that elaborate the polyphonic nature of Finnegans Wake. In re-contextualising Lucia Joyce’s lettrines, Siobhán’s paper suggests that reading Lucia’s contributions to these published editions also troubles our collective cultural memorializing of both James and Lucia Joyce, while giving a glimpse of how to recover the obscured and concealed contributions of women and disabled artists to modernism’s legacy.

Genevieve’s talk, on the other hand, will bring a third figure into the realm: psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. From 1975 to 1976, Lacan delivered a seminar series on James Joyce that claimed that Joyce represents a new future for psychoanalysis. Lacan believed that Joyce could have been psychotic but was able to cure this possible condition by traversing the Oedipal framework through writing Finnegans Wake. Genevieve’s presentation will contextualise Lacan’s convictions before suggesting the possibility of revising Lacan’s late work through an original and biographically-driven argument. While Lacan was presenting his seminar that praised Joyce for having overcome psychosis, the author’s allegedly schizophrenic daughter Lucia was living in Northampton as a resident of Saint Andrew’s, the sanitorium where she remained until her death in 1982. Lacan refrains from mentioning Lucia in any detail—nor did he make the effort to visit her. Similarly, there has been no scholarship on Lucia in relation to Lacan’s work on her father in either literary or Lacanian study. Through a selective look at pre-publication content in Finnegans Wake that shows how Joyce textually represented Lucia’s schizophrenia through time, this talk will show that a focus on her can shape new ways to productively advance Lacan’s work on Joyce and his claims on the future of the clinic.