John Brannigan (University College Dublin)
The Irish Sea Border
As Stephen Dedalus walks along Sandymount Strand in Ulysses (1922), he contemplates the ‘limits of the diaphane’, the problem of borders and their visibility. Before his eyes lay a sea which had conspicuously failed to function as a border, but which would soon become part of the internationally recognised border of the new Irish Free State. A century later, with the age of liquid global modernity increasingly under strain, sea borders have returned as spectacles of the contemporary geo-political imagination. This paper will examine literary representations of the Irish Sea as a border, to think about how sea borders function as liminal spaces, contact zones, frontiers, and edgelands, and to think about sea borders as cultural constructions which make readable the processes by which societies attempt to define themselves.
Jessica Bundschuh (Stuttgart University)
The Shifting Borders of the Irish Prose Poem Sequence in Eamon Grennan’s Plainchant
Eamon Grennan’s Plainchant (2020) can be productively approached as a prose poem sequence with few formal precursors in the Irish poetic canon. Grennan’s prose poems employ a novel columnal format of justified left and right margins that vary in width from one poem to the next in response to the length of the first line. Thus, Grennan facilitates a textual space of interlocking and shifting narratives that foreground the very act of bordering. As the volume’s title Plainchant signals, it is Grennan’s intention to merge “plain” and everyday speech with a Joycean epiphany or “chant.” The result is a textured Irish borderscape focused on multispecies relativity, entangled relations, reordered hierarchies, and border crossings. Here, Grennan welcomes a community of border subjects, primarily nonhuman, who reside in the coastal setting of Connemara in western Ireland.
Through the generic hybrid of the prose poem, Grennan shifts the borders of geographic and interspecies engagement directly onto the topography of the page. In effect, these blocks of text expand and narrow in response to Grennan’s shifting aperture of ‘intercreatural’ observation. This paper will trace the arc in Plainchant of Grennan’s four prose poems about the hare to overlay local vignettes onto a larger narrative of what it means to live with and alongside borders in an Irish context. Ultimately, by approaching Grennan’s work as a generic-hybrid borderscape, readers experience a more nuanced and inclusive sense of Irish ‘b/ording,’ since it enacts its ongoing spatial negotiation among an array of border beings of equal agency and autonomy.
Jessica Bundschuh is a Lecturer in English Literatures & Cultures at the University of Stuttgart. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Her publications have appeared in Review of Irish Studies in Europe, Poetics Today, The Paris Review, Columbia Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Moth, Poem Unlimited: New Perspectives on Poetry & Genre, The Honest Ulsterman and Long Poem Magazine. She has a chapter on Irish poetry in performance forthcoming in a volume on Poetic Forms and articles forthcoming in Literary Matters and EFACIS: Interfaces and Dialogues. Her current research project is on the Irish prose poem.
Ciara Nicole Chambers (University College Cork)
Ulster versus Éire: Partitionist Narratives in Cinema Newsreels
Ulster versus Éire (1938) was an American March of Time newsreel exploring the complexities of Irish politics on both sides of the border. It came hot on the heels of an earlier film made by the same company, misleadingly titled Irish Republic (1937). The first film had sparked an attempt by the Northern Ireland government to present a propagandised film about the north in response to what was seen to be a favourable depiction of the south. Remarkably, the two films utilised much of the same footage to present two starkly contrasting narratives of ‘two Irelands’. This fitted into a broader pattern of the newsreels’ partitionist mentality in covering Irish affairs. This paper will explore how north and south were constructed differently, both before and after partition, in the only form of moving image news available to the general public before the widespread advent of television.
Dr Ciara Chambers is Head of the Department of Film & Screen Media, University College Cork, author of Ireland in the Newsreels (Irish Academic Press, 2012) and co-editor of Researching Newsreels: Local, National and Transnational Case Studies (Palgrave, 2018). She is a member of the council of the International Association of Media and History and associate editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. She was screenwriter and associate producer of the six-part television series Éire na Nuachtscannán (BAI, TG4 www.irelandinthenewsreels.com) and is the Irish PI on the AHRC/IRC-funded Make Film History project in partnership with Kingston University, BBC Archive Editorial, the British Film Institute, Northern Ireland Screen and the IFI Irish Film Archive.
Tony Connelly (Europe editor, RTÉ)
Irish Border Narratives in the Media
Tony Connelly is Europe Editor for RTÉ, Ireland’s public broadcaster. Tony has reported extensively on Brexit, has been covering EU and European affairs since 2001, and has reported on conflicts in Ukraine, Africa, the Caucuses, the Balkans and the Middle East. He is the recipient of two ESB National Media awards, a European Journalism Award and a New York Festivals radio award. He has received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the UCD Smurfit Graduate School journalism awards, and an Irish Law Society Justice Media Award for his coverage of Brexit. Tony is the author of Brexit and Ireland, nominated Irish non-fiction book of the year 2018, and Don’t Mention the Wars: A Journey Through European Stereotypes, published in 2014. Tony was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland in 1964, and is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the London School of Journalism. He is married with three children and lives in Brussels.
Mary E. Daly (University College Dublin)
'A Third Country': Irish Border Communities 1921-2021
Members of Irish border communities have described themselves as 'A third country', ignored by both the Irish government and the government of Northern Ireland. My paper will combine some high-level analysis of the impact of partition on these communities, with their personal experiences, including my own experience of growing up in a border town. The story is one of divisions: the average Irish person living some distance from the border is more likely to interact with citizens of Poland than somebody from the other part of Ireland. However there is also evidence that economic ties in border regions have strengthened, though these are threatened by possible changes in the relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU post-Brexit.
Mary E. Daly is Professor Emerita in Irish History at University College Dublin. She has published widely on the history of nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland, including Sixties Ireland. Reshaping the economy, state and society, 1957-73, (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and A Social History of Modern Ireland (Cambridge, 2017), co-edited with Eugenio Biagini. In 2014 she was elected President of the Royal Irish Academy (founded 1783), the first woman to hold that position. Since 2012 she has been a member of the Irish Government's Expert Advisory Group on the Decade of Centenaries.
Oran Doyle (Trinity College Dublin)
Mapping the Jural Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland
Humans inhabit geographically bounded jural realities. Where two jural realties abut, we have a jural border. Some jural borders are highly focused, with one set of laws applying on one side of the border and a completely different set applying on the other side, resulting in significant difficulties for all forms of movement from one to the other. The jural border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is far less focused. The paper will present initial findings of the North-South Legal Mapping Project – an Irish Research Council funded project that is assessing the extent of legal convergence and divergence between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Irish unification would involve a process of legal convergence between North and South. The paper will explore several generic challenges – separate from the content of particular laws – that such a process would face, including transition periods; Northern Ireland’s adoption of the EU’s Acquis Communautaire; the legal status of actions taken prior to unification; the legal status of laws made prior to unification; the continuation of devolution in Northern Ireland; the creation of a courts system with judges appropriately qualified to adjudicate in this context of jural complexity.
Oran Doyle is a research professor at the Institutum Iurisprudentiae of the Academia Sinica Taipei and a professor at Trinity College Dublin. Prof Doyle is an expert in comparative constitutional law, with a particular focus on the issues of constitutional amendment, territory and Irish unification. He is the author of The Irish Constitution: A Contextual Analysis (Clarus, 2018) and co-edited with Aileen McHarg and Jo Murkens The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the United Kingdom: Constitutions under Pressure' (Cambridge, 2021). He is currently the PI for NSLMap, a research project funded by the Irish Research Council and the Shared Island Initiative that maps the convergence and divergence of laws on either side of the Irish border.
Maria Eisenmann (University of Würzburg)
Roundtable: Irish Border Narratives and Irish Studies in Germany
Maria Eisenmann is Professor of EFL Teaching at the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg and the co-founder of Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ). She studied the subjects English, German and Pedagogy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne/England and at the University of Würzburg, where she completed her M.A. degree and state examination. After finishing her PhD and working as a teacher in school, she taught at the University of Education in Freiburg, held a deputy professorship for EFL Teaching at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and held the chair for EFL Teaching at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Her primary research interests lie in the field of teaching literature, media literacy and inter-/transcultural learning with a focus on Irish Studies. She has edited and co-edited numerous books and published widely in the field of foreign language education, digital and literary literacy and teaching literature in the EFL classroom.
Ralf Haekel (University of Leipzig)
Roundtable: Irish Border Narratives and Irish Studies in Germany
Ralf Haekel is Professor of English Literature at Leipzig University. He received his Ph.D. from FU Berlin in 2003 and his Habilitation from Göttingen University in 2013. His main research interests are Romantic Studies, Early Modern Drama and Theatre, Irish Studies, and Media Theory. He is the author of The Soul in British Romanticism (2014), editor of the Handbook of British Romanticism (2017), and co-editor of Media Theories of Literature (forthcoming in 2022).
Sandra Heinen (University of Wuppertal)
EFACIS Irish Itinerary: Oisín Kearney in Conversation with Sandra Heinen
Sandra Heinen is professor of English literature and media studies at the University of Wuppertal. Her main research areas are postcolonial studies, narrative research, British Romanticism, and Irish studies. She is author of a monograph on authorial self-fashioning during the Romantic period and her co-edited collections include Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research (2009), Narratives of Romanticism (2017) and Walter Macken: Critical Perspectives (2022). She is also co-editor of DIEGESIS: Interdisciplinary E-journal for Narrative Research.
Oisín Kearney (Writer and director for stage and screen)
EFACIS Irish Itinerary: Oisín Kearney in Conversation with Sandra Heinen
Oisín Kearney is an Irish writer and director who works across stage and screen. Originally from Warrenpoint, on the Irish border, he was co-writer of My Left Nut (now an award-winning BBC Three series), The Alternative (Winner of 2 Irish Time Theatre Awards and nominated for Best New Play), and The Border Game (which marked 100 years of partition when it opened the Belfast International Arts Festival in October 2021). Oisín has written for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Ulster on the legacy of partition and the Boundary Commission of 1925. He has directed for stage and documentaries for Northern Irish and Dutch TV. His first feature documentary as Director, BOJAYÁ: Caught In The Crossfire, premiered at Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto in April 2019 and was streamed by Aljazeera. He has Assistant Produced a number of feature documentaries on stories around the politics of identity, including 66 DAYS (BBC Storyville) and Oscar long-listed and Emmy-nominated ELIÁN (CNN Films). Oisín is current recipient of an Abbey Theatre Commemoration Bursary and is working on plays around identity and history, as well as developing a number of television projects.
Peter Leary (Oxford Brookes University)
A “territory of wits” and Daring-Do: The Irish Border as a Ludicrous Line
While the dominant narratives of the Irish borderlands portray a place of deadly violence and division, they have long been entangled with another, fostered especially within border communities themselves. Most obviously expressed in the many surviving stories of cross-border smuggling, is an image of the border as what American anthropologist Henry Glassie calls ‘a territory of wits’, characterised by playfulness, intelligence and humour. Blighted by political conflicts and decisions, often far beyond their control, poor and marginalised country people make do and even triumph through quick-thinking and creativity. Humour and table-turning mockery do not erase the trauma of partition or the troubles that surround it, any more than the trickster tales of the American South override the experience of enslavement or Jim Crow segregation. They might, however, offer insights into how border communities have understood and sought to navigate the structural problems that confronted them. This paper will explore the perceived ludicrousness of the border and the difficulties and restrictions it imposed, through some of the alternative narratives and practices by which it has been subverted.
Stefanie Lehner (Queens University Belfast)
Intimate Borderlands in Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s Thin Places (2021) and Sue Divin’s Guard Your Heart (2021)
Dr Stefanie Lehner is Senior Lecturer in Irish Literature and Culture at Queen’s University, Belfast, and Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice (QUB). Her current research explores the role of the arts, specifically performance, in conflict transformation processes, with a focus on the Northern Irish context. She also researches and teaches on representations of trauma and memory in (Northern) Irish drama, fiction, film, and photography. She is author of Subaltern Ethics in Contemporary Scottish and Irish Literature (2011) and her work has been published in Contemporary Theatre Review, Irish Review, Irish Studies Review, Irish University Review, and Nordic Irish Studies. She has also contributed to three chapters to recent Cambridge and Oxford University Press companions. She is a board member of Tinderbox and TheatreofplucK theatre companies; and currently working on the PaCCS/AHRC-funded project, Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation.
Caroline Lusin (University of Mannheim)
Achilles on the Shores of Eire: Borders, the Iliad and the Oresteia in Contemporary Irish Fiction
Caroline Lusin holds the Chair of English Literary and Culture at the University of Mannheim. Her main areas of research include contemporary British and Irish fiction, the literature and culture of the British Empire, and comparative literary studies. She has published monographs on Virginia Woolf and Anton Chekhov as well as on Anglo-Indian life-writing; besides, she has (co-)edited collections of essays on South Asian and Caribbean poetry, on empathy, sympathy and narration, on contemporary British drama and on 21st-century British and Irish TV series.
Christina Morin (University of Limerick)
At Home and Abroad: Irish Gothic in the Global Nineteenth Century
This paper considers the manner in which Romantic-era Irish gothic fiction deconstructs and manipulates the idea of borders – geo-political, linguistic, cultural, and otherwise – in its metaphoric treatment of the global literary marketplace. It focuses particular attention on Dublin-born Catherine Cuthbertson’s 1803 gothic Romance of the Pyrenees, in which the author self-consciously and playfully acknowledges her novel’s status as a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded across national and international borders. This recognition emerges, in part, through frequent narratorial interjections that call attention to the constructed nature of the narrative and act as a commentary on the kind of literature the novel should be understood to constitute. Drawing attention to the importance of reading and reading material in the novel, these interruptions ensure that readers never forget that they are reading a fiction, or, indeed, that there is an authorial hand manipulating their reading experience. Tellingly, the novel concludes with a final break in narrative continuity: ‘We fondly hope that our feeble efforts have contributed, in some degree, to the amusement of our readers, and that no heart has become less pure for having perused our pages’ (Cuthbertson 4: 346). The narrator’s reference here to the ‘amusement’ of the reader as well as to the un-injurious nature of the novel evokes the discourse of the contemporary literary marketplace in which women’s fiction, and the gothic especially, was seen as harmless, if skill-less, at best, and morally destructive at worst.
By also drawing attention to the material circulation and dissemination of Cuthbertson’s tale, this paper highlights the work’s movements across Britain, Europe, and further afield. It thereby allows a glimpse into the global networks, connections, and realities in which Cuthbertson’s fiction, and Irish gothic of the Romantic period more widely, was produced and in which it inspired and sustained diverse interpretive communities and processes of international exchange. It further enables an understanding of how Cuthbertson and many Irish Romantic writers invoke and re-shape the gothic to think about the nature of authorship itself in the context of a rapidly expanding, transnational literary sphere in which mobility – material and otherwise – was the key to commercial, if not critical, success.
(Work Cited: Cuthbertson, Catherine. Romance of the Pyrenees. G & J Robinson, 1803. 4 vols.)
Christina Morin is a Senior Lecturer in English and Assistant Dean of Research in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Limerick. She is the author of The Gothic Novel in Ireland, c. 1760-1829 (2018) and Charles Robert Maturin and the Haunting of Irish Romantic Fiction (2011). She is currently editing, with Jarlath Killeen, the Edinburgh Companion to Irish Gothic (forthcoming, 2022) and has previously co-edited Traveling Irishness in the Long Nineteenth Century (with Marguérite Corporaal, 2017) and Irish Gothics: Genres, Forms, Modes and Traditions (with Niall Gillespie, 2014). Current projects include a monograph on Irish writers and the Minerva press and a special issue of the Irish University Review on 'Irish Gothic Studies Today', co-edited with Ellen Scheible.
Cóilín Parsons (Georgetown University)
Dissolving Borders: Ulysses, Postcolonialism, and the Global South
Since the groundbreaking work of Vincent Cheng, Enda Duffy, Emer Nolan, and more in the 1990s, Joyce’s Ulysses has been an established part of what we might call a postcolonial canon. The novel is, not, Duffy writes in Subaltern Ulysses, ‘a manifesto for postcolonial freedom’, but ‘a representation of the discourses and regimes of colonial power being attacked by counterhegemonic strategies’. The postcolonial intervention into Joyce studies was controversial and revivifying, expanding the borders of modernism, Irish studies, and Joyce studies to take into account a set of global processes of which Ireland was but a small part.
At the same time, postcolonial studies as a field was always a bargain with the vagaries of presentist political concerns, and has shifted dramatically in the last few years with the focus on cultures of the Global South. How, this paper asks, does or can or should Joyce scholarship keep up with the new contours of postcolonial studies. By looking specifically at new formations of border and migration studies in the Global South, I ask how Joycean postcolonialism does or does not allow for a new structure of border thinking, and how it orients us toward a future of ‘unsettlement’ and the dissolution of historical formations of border thinking.
Cóilín Parsons is Associate Professor of English and Director of Global Irish Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is the author of The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature (Oxford, 2016), and editor or co-editor of Relocations: Reading Culture in South Africa (University of Cape Town, 2015); Science, Technology, and Irish Modernism (Syracuse, 2019); and Globalization and Irish Literary Studies (Cambridge, 2023).
Katharina Peetz (freelance journalist, mostly Deutschlandradio)
Irish Border Narratives in the Media
Katharina Peetz is a freelance journalist based in Cologne, Germany, working mostly for German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandradio. As one of the hosts of the Deutschlandfunk-show "Europa Heute" she is regularly reporting about European politics. In 2021 she travelled to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for a longer research trip to get a closer perspective on the political situation after Brexit. One of the results was a radio feature about Northern Ireland after Brexit and its implications for the future of the island. Whenever she hears "Dreams" by The Cranberries she is reminded of the season finale of "Derry Girls".
Lance Pettitt (Birkbeck, University of London; Visiting Professor in Irish Studies University of Wuppertal)
Dramatising 1970s Border Narratives: Eugene McCabe’s Victims Trilogy (RTE)
Eugene McCabe’s (1930-2020) ‘Victims’ trilogy Cancer, Heritage, Siege (RTE, 1973, 1976), was Irish television’s most important Troubles dramas of the 1970s. It was broadcast at the height of the political violence in Northern Ireland and under RTE’s ‘Section 31’ broadcasting restrictions (1972-1994). Focusing on the production, script and broadcast version of ‘Heritage’ this paper explores the significance of its rural, Monaghan-Fermanagh border setting, Ulster Protestant sensibilities and examines McCabe’s craft as a TV writer. Over a period spanning the Good Friday Agreement, Brexit and border’s centenary (1998-2020), McCabe’s prose fiction work has attracted little critical attention (with the exception of Patterson’s ‘Border violence’ (2013) or O Cairdha’s ‘Border gothic’ (2016)). Despite one new adaptation of Death and Nightingales (not by McCabe, 2018) there has been scarcely any critical analysis of McCabe’s extensive television work as television. ‘Victims’ is significant because it was filmed on location, given primetime transmission and presented Troubles perspectives on the border censored by RTE in its own news and current affairs. I interpret the ‘Victims’ trilogy as cipher for the limits, borders and fault lines of the social imaginary that characterised the Irish border during this period.
Lance Pettitt is Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and was the inaugural ‘Travelling Professor in Irish Studies’ at Wuppertal University (2021/22). He writes on Irish cinema, television and cultural history and at Birkbeck he holds a small grant British Academy award for a project on Eugene McCabe’s television writing. He is the author of The Last Bohemian (Syracuse, 2023), is preparing Screening Ireland for a revised 2nd edition (Manchester UP, 2023) and is co-editor of the ‘Ireland into Film’ screenplay critical edition series whose next volume, Maeve by Pat Murphy (EduUFSC, 2022) has just been published.
Katharina Rennhak (University of Wuppertal)
(Para-)Military Masculinity and Male Agency in Recent Irish Border Narratives
Russian formalist Jurij Lotman’s The Structure of the Artistic Text establishes the narrative protagonist’s agency as a function of the border that separates “two mutually complementary subsets” of “the semantic field” established by the narrative (240). Heroic agency is one of the core features of (para‑)military masculinity, a mode of masculinity that “is inextricably tied to violence and issues of national struggle” and that has been as central to the “political rhetoric of recorded human history” as it was regarded as “representative of Northern Ireland” (Magennis 7). Just as more recent border theories, such as Thomas Nail’s “kinopolitics of the border” or Agamben’s concept of the border as a space of exception, have complicated questions of male agency, literary fiction has established new plotlines and re-imagined narrative chronotopes to reconstruct (formerly?) hegemonic concepts of masculine agency. Focusing on the construction of plot and borderland chronotopes, this paper will compare Ciarán McMenamin’s The Sunken Road (2021) with Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way (2005) and Michael Hughes’ Country (2018) and demonstrate how the narrative design of McMenamin’s timely Irish border novel engages in a particularly complex and differentiated discussion of the question of (para-)military male agency in times of crises and war.
Katharina Rennhak is professor of English Literary Studies at the University of Wuppertal. She has published mainly on British and Irish romanticism and contemporary fiction and is the author of two monographs, one on concepts of language in Booker Prize related historical fiction (2002) and one dealing with the narrative construction of masculinities in women writers' novels around 1800 (2013). Among her edited collections are Women Constructing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750–2000 (with S. Frantz; Lexington, 2010), Narrating Ireland in Different Genres and Media (WVT, 2016); Postfaktisches Erzählen? Post-Truth, Fake News, Narration (with T. Weixler et al.; de Gruyter, 2021), and Walter Macken: Critical Perspectives (with S. Heinen, Cork UP, 2022). She is president of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS), a member of the IASIL Executive, and a board member of the Center of Narrative Research at the University of Wuppertal.
Kirsten Sandrock (University of Göttingen)
Borders as Palimpsests: Symbolic Layering in Kenneth Branagh's Belfast (2021)
In their introduction to Border Aesthetics: Concepts and Intersections (2017), Mireille Rosello and Stephen F. Wolfe define the 'palimpsest' as a key concept for aesthetic approaches to borders. Borders are palimpsestic because "each border carries within it the archaeology of previous borders, enabling an analysis of their figurative representations to function as a community of practices or a style" (Rosello/Wolfe 5). In my paper, I look at this palimpsestic nature of borders by discussing Kenneth Branagh's autobiographical film Belfast (2021), which tells the story of a boy's childhood at the beginning of The Troubles in Belfast in 1969. The film shows how borders are erected from symbolic materials, including the sidewalks before people's houses. In one street, where Protestants and Catholics used to live together peacefully, cobblestones are literally taken out and turned into a barricade together with other meaningful objects, such as burned-out cars or mesh-wire fence. These artefacts turn the border into an archaeological site that tells multiple stories through its memories, materials, and meanings. Refracted through a family history, Belfast illustrates that borders are not only narrated objects; in the film, they function as a method in Sandro Mezzadra and Bette Neilson's sense of the term, to narrate the symbolic layering of Belfast's borders.
(Works Cited: Branagh, Kenneth, dir. Belfast. Northern Ireland Screen. Universal Pictures, 2021; Mezzadra, Sandro, and Bette Neilson (2013). Border as a Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor. Durham: Duke UP; Rosello, Mireille, and Stephen F. Wolfe (2017). “Introduction.” Border Aesthetics. Concepts and Intersections. Ed. Johan Schimanski and Stephen F. Wolfe. Berghahn. 1-24.)
Kirsten Sandrock is currently guest professor of English Literature at Freiburg University. She previously taught at Tübingen, Leipzig, and Goettingen University as well as at Vienna University. Her research focuses primarily on early modern literature and culture and on contemporary Anglophone literature and culture, with special interests in border studies, Shakespeare, travel writing, colonialism and postcolonialism, Scottish and Irish studies, Canada studies, and gender studies. She is the author of Scottish Colonial Literature: Writing the Atlantic, 1603-1707 (Edinburgh University Press, 2021) and co-editor of the Shakespeare Seminar (with Lukas Lammers). She is currently working on a project on British border narratives that researches past and present processes of bordering and debordering in Ireland and the UK with a focus on literature and culture from the 1960s to the present.
Peter Shirlow (University of Liverpool)
Northern Ireland: A Re-Imagined Place?
Within media and academia there is a constant downplaying of the role the GFA has had upon the structure and meaning of life in Northern Ireland. Sections of both remain fascinated by schisms as opposed to accounting for change and its potential impact. In 1998 weeks before the Good Friday Agreement a colleague and I wrote ‘Northern Irish society is far more complex than the stereotypical ethnic schism between Catholic/Irish/Nationalist and Protestant/Unionist/British might imply’. Evidenced by the growth of Alliance who received transfers across the schism, a pro-union community that will not merely vote to keep the other side out and unambiguous consensus for change and reform. The slow burner of generational trend-lines becoming more important than electoral cycles.
If we dig below the exterior of election results, we find that consensus within recent Institute of Irish Studies polls. The people, that the DUP and Sinn Fein represent, believed the last Assembly performed poorly compared to previous iterations and desired a voting system in which 60% of MLAs agreeing legislative reform was sufficient for cross-community support. The people, despite their diversity and variant constitutional views, assert as one when they demand reform and the setting of a budget that will literally save lives. It is a gross misnomer to think that a DUP or Sinn Fein voter does not want education reform, reduced waiting lists, safer communities, and social prosperity. Identity politics may, for now, remain dominant but behind that sits expectations of better governance.
At the time of foodbanks, rising costs of living and global insecurity each must deliver a leadership for problem-solving. The people have made it very clear regading their support for consensus based headship. Further proof some 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement that the people increasingly sit beyond the ‘stereotypical ethnic schism’. As JKF summed when in a political crisis ‘generosity should be able to unite regardless of party politics’. Generosity or sterile and wearied broken governance have obvious and very different outcomes.
Professor Peter Shirlow (FaCSS) is the Director at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies. He was formerly the Deputy Director of the Institute for Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, QUB. He is the Independent Chair of the Executive Office's Employers' Guidance on Recruiting People with Conflict-Related Convictions Working Group and a board member of the mental health charity Threshold. He is a Visiting Research Professor at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. He sits on the editorial boards of Irish Political Studies and International Planning Studies. Professor Shirlow has undertaken conflict transformation work in Northern Ireland and has used that knowledge in exchanges with governments, former combatants and NGOs in the former Yugoslavia, Moldova, Bahrain and Iraq, He has also presented talks to members of the US Senate and House of Representatives and is a regular media contributor.
Lennart Soberon (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Backroads and Buried Pasts: A Thematic Analysis of the Irish Border on Film
While Northern (Irish) film studies has a longstanding preoccupation with studying the politics of space in terms of urbanism and rurality (Hill, 2006; Barton, 2020) the border as a setting cinema remains largely neglected. Being the exception to the rule, Fox’s (2020) article on Irish border cinema illustrates that the border has been tackled extensively since the 1990s in popular film. In order to bring these narratives from under the radar and out in the open, this paper aims to offer an extensive study of the stylistic, narrative, and ideological functions the Irish border occupies as a material or metaphorical space. Departing from the concept of border poetics (Shimanski, 2006), I offer several levels of textual analysis into a large corpus of films, from 1937 till 2021, that engage with the border in terms of three distinct character-types: bordercrossers, borderlanders, and bordertourists. In the first stage of this analysis, a distant reading is offered of 64 films in which one or several characters engage in the act of border crossing. As such, it will be possible to understand how the border interacts with different generic scrips and narrative developments. This large-scale analysis is then complemented with a more in-depth close reading of 12 films that feature the Irish borderlands as their main setting to discuss how this set of locations has become a locus for filmmakers to tackle themes of cultural alienation and post-conflict reconciliation.
Lennart Soberon is a post-doctoral researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and artistic coordinator of non-profit film theatre KASKcinema (Ghent, Belgium). His prior research project focused on enemy image construction in the American action film. He is currently part of the ERC-funded project ‘Reel Borders’ that studies the cinematic representation of Europe’s border regions. Apart from working on forms of cinematic othering and bordering, he has also published on themes of emotion, masculinity, trauma, and spectacle.
Roy Sommer (University of Wuppertal)
Roundtable: Irish Border Narratives and Irish Studies in Germany
Willi Winkler (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Irish Border Narratives in the Media
Michelle Witen (Europa-Universität Flensburg)
Roundtable: Irish Border Narratives and Irish Studies in Germany
Michelle Witen is the Junior Professor of English and Irish Literature at the Europa-Universität Flensburg. She is the author of James Joyce and Absolute Music (Bloomsbury 2018) and the co-editor of the James Joyce Quarterly Special Issue on “James Joyce and the Non-Human” (2020/21), Shakespeare and Space (Palgrave 2016) and the forthcoming Modernism in Wonderland (Bloomsbury 2022).She has also published chapters and articles on T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bowen, the Ladybird books, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, and Lewis Carroll. Her current research focuses on Victorian periodicals, and she is founding a Centre for Irish Studies at the EUF.