Global Ulysses

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As we approach the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses (February 2, 1922), the Keough-Naughton Institute has worked with its distinguished faculty fellows and many partners to create a  "Global Ulysses" project.

The “global” in our title contains multiple meanings. While Ulysses so perfectly memorializes the Irish capital of Dublin, the book was conceived and written primarily in Italy and first published in France. More importantly, this great work has had a truly global impact, as has, in our 21st century, Irish Studies.

Two of our Institute faculty fellows, Declan Kiberd, the Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies, Professor of English and Irish Language and Literature Emeritus, and Barry McCrea, the Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of English, Irish Language and Literature, and Romance Languages and Literatures, are world-renowned Joyce scholars.

Joining with them in the Global Ulysses endeavor are Enrico Terrinoni, Full Professor Chair of English Literature at Università Per Stranieri di Perugia and President of the James Joyce Italian Foundation, who visited Notre Dame in Fall 2019, and Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Professor of English at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3, and a visitor to the Institute in Fall 2018.

At times individually and other times together, these scholars have taught the book in undergraduate and graduate seminars at Notre Dame's campus, at O'Connell House in Dublin, and to student and community reading groups in Rome, Perugia, and Paris. The Institute also regularly invites speakers and performers to campus to further develop Ulysses themes and plans to do so throughout 2022.

Central to the Institute's Global Ulysses endeavor in 2022 will be celebrations and symposia in three cities in which Joyce lived and worked—Rome, Paris, and Dublin—as well as on Notre Dame's campus in South Bend. 

 

A note from Declan Kiberd on the significance of Ulysses:

James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is widely considered to be the most important book of the 20th century. The novel announced a new era of modernity in art, celebrating the human body and centralising the processes of the mind. Written during some years of World War I, it replaced themes of the bravery of the soldier going to battle with the intrepidity of a person with courage to enter the abyss of his or her own self.  For the first time in a major work of literature, the usual demands of plot were replaced by a passion for thinking. And the process of thought was perfectly calibrated to walks through the streets of the City of Dublin by its major characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. Their wanderings replicate those of Homer’s protagonist in The Odyssey, whose Ulysses went so far from home that all the knowledge he brought back led to a reparadigming of culture.

In the same way, James Joyce’s Ulysses has led to a radical revision of what literature is and can do. Here we have Everyman as an artist of the Everyday. Soliloquies and monologues, once thought the preserve of aristocrats, are now possible to ordinary people doing nothing more momentous than taking a cup of tea or buying a bar of soap; yet, in the very littleness of humans, Joyce finds the basis of our greatness. Ulysses completely democratised the form of the novel, even as it made the act of reading more difficult and challenging. It had a massive influence on practitioners of the form in South America (Gabriel García Márquez); on poets like Derek Walcott in the West Indies (Omeros); on chroniclers of the stream-of-consciousness as experienced in a single day, such as Virginia Woolf in Mrs. Dalloway; and on other modernist masterpieces such as T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.  No book has been more explosive on impact. In destroying old forms, it created other, newer ones. In the words of Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellmann, we are still learning how to be its contemporaries—nearly 100 years after its writing.

 

*/Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Institute's Global Ulysses activities originally scheduled for 2020 will occur in some form in 2022.

Illustration:  John Kubiak, Calypso (Dublin, 1993)

No book has been more explosive on impact than James Joyce's Ulysses. In destroying old forms, it created other, newer ones. In the words of Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellmann, we are still learning how to be its contemporaries—nearly 100 years after its writing.

–Declan Kiberd, Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies Emeritus
 

Ulysses is a reminder that supposedly provincial places, such as Ireland or Dublin, are sites in which the larger flows and turns of global modernity can be most vividly felt and most closely examined: not only in the economic fate of cities and communities, but also in the hearts of individuals, in the character of their inner lives, their relationships with others, their sense of what it is to be alive and growing in the world.

—Barry McCrea, Keough Family Chair of Irish Studies