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‘Thinking Through the Skin: Touching Northern Irish Short Fiction’

June 12, 2019 @ 4:30 pm


June 12, 2019
4:30 pm


Room 1001, the Bridge, Hardiman Research Building


Caroline Magennis


Talk by Moore Visiting Fellow Caroline Magennis

‘This talk will offer an overview of the depiction of Northern Irish skin in recent short story collections, particularly Bernie McGill’s Sleepwalkers (2013) and

Roisin O’Donnell’s Wild Quiet (2016). Drawing on work by Laura Marks, Abbie Garrington, Virginia Woolf, Sara Ahmed and others, this paper seeks to examine

how we might engage with this new representation of the body and the potential of the haptic to be a mode of both self-knowledge and transmission. In these

short stories, moments of connection through touch are lingered on and memories of touch past are pivotal. White Northern Irish skin is not valorised or

celebrated, but often cast as something fragile and permeable that absorbs the toxic quality of the atmosphere. Scars are everywhere, and language is a fleshy

mechanism involving lips, tongues and teeth. This talk will argue that recent short stories continue to move the Northern Irish body away from its

representational dead end as over-deterministic symbol of the conflict. Rather than just the body in pain, skin is revealed to be a complex medium that yields