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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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Joyce and the Politics of World Literature

Maria DiBattista, Barry McCrea, Caitriona Ni Dhubhghaill, Amira Hassan Nowaira.

This workshop will propose that Joyce be regarded as the first modernist — with the possible exception of Thomas Mann — to envision literary forms and methods that could accommodate the demographic and cartographic changes wrought by imperialist administrations and ushered in by the technological changes that announced and shaped a new world order. His two world epics, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, for instance, anticipate the dynamics of identity and belonging that provide one of the central themes of the conference. To wit:
- Cosmopolitanism, globalisation and backlash.
- The humanities and the construction of place
- First nations and indigenous peoples in first, third and other worlds.
- Human movement and its consequences immigration, refugees, diaspora, minorities.
- Ecological sustainability, cultural sustainability, human sustainability.
- Homo faber the human faces of technology.
- Global/local, universal/particular discerning boundaries.
- Differences gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, race, class.

Each of these interrelated themes are imaginatively prefigured and addressed in Ulysses, prompting in each instance a parodic and realistic, but also utopian understanding of what it means to translate the ancient epic of migration and post-war acculturation into the modern political idiom of colonialist Ireland, at once a third world and first nation struggling to achieve the cultural sustainability of Home Rule, plagued by uneven technological and economic development, internally torn by class and ethnic animosity, religious passion, and sexual differences, both comic and lamentable. Joyce's art provides singular instances of how local color (Ithaca, Stratford, Dublin) is at once irreducible and a template for and of global culture. Joyce is as urgently a writer of our modern times as he ever was, as this workshop hopes to show and explore.


Maria DiBattista  (United States)
Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Department of English/Comparative Literature
Princeton University

Maria DiBattista teaches modern literature and film at Princeton University. She is the author of The Fables of Anon: The Novels of Virginia Woolf First Love: The Affections of Modern Fiction andd coeditor, with Lucy McDiarmid, of High and Low Moderns Fast-Talking Dames, a book on women and screwball comedy, was published in 2001. She is currently at work on a study of the novels of sentimental education and a book on the varieities of religious experience in modernist fiction entitled The Heretic Novel.

Barry McCrea

Caitriona Ni Dhubhghaill

Amira Hassan Nowaira  (Egypt)
Professor of English
Department of English Faculty of Arts
Alexandria University

  • World literature
  • Global and 'local' culture
  • Identity and place
  • Imagining political utopias
Person as Subject
  • Joyce, James

(60 min Workshop, English)