Archive for September, 2011

A refreshing interdisciplinary experience

7 September 2011

By Juliana Adelman

A few weeks ago I was called on to replace a panel speaker at a conference on ecocriticism (Literature and conservation: responsibilities).  Having plenty of conference organising experience I was sympathetic to the organiser’s attempt to patch a hole in the programme and the topics for discussion looked interesting to me.  Nevertheless, I felt a mounting sense of trepidation as the day drew closer.  Did I really have anything to say that someone from English literature might want to listen to?  Did I really GET the questions I had been sent or was I missing the point completely?  I silently prayed that no one would ask a question about literary theory and wondered if I should try to cram in some reading of the novels that other speakers were talking about.

The day of the conference arrived and I spent an enjoyable few hours listening to a great diversity of papers.  (With thanks to the organisers, Alison Lacivita and Megan Kuster).  My contribution to the panel session seemed to go down ok (although no one boos or throws things in academia these days) and no one asked me a question about literary theory.  It was truly refreshing to listen to people outside my own discipline.  I came away with an enormous reading list, a commitment to paying more attention to ecocriticism as part of my interest in environmental history and a renewed distaste for jargon. Read more

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Pue’s Recommendations for September

5 September 2011

Juliana Adelman I moved house in August (I’m now a northsider!) and the packing and unpacking allowed me to rediscover a few books I hadn’t looked at in years.  Top of the list would be Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a kind of environmental autobiography that I associate with autumn for some reason.  It is nature writing but not in the usual reverential mode and one of my favorite books.  This week (starting tonight) RTÉ are screening a two-part documentary on Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals in the 20th C.  Sounds grim, but interesting.  Next weekend is the European Heritage Open Days in Northern Ireland which includes a tour of  the Harland & Wolff drawing offices that I would love to see.  This year I’m really hoping to get to the National Ploughing Championships (20th to 22nd, professional interest of course!) and I’m also looking forward to Culture Night.

Lisa Marie Griffith There have been lots of historians popping up on TV or in print this month to discuss the riots in England. Not a new occurrence, historians are called on to discuss everything these days- but is it a good idea and are their comments actually welcomed? David Starkey excited some controversy for his comments on Newsnight during the riots and many suggested that historians, particularly historians of the elite, should not be discussing the social and economic problems of Britain in the 21st century. If you haven’t kept up with the debate History Extra have covered it (not surprisingly arguing that historians should continue to comment). Proving however that Starkey has upset not just the general public but those within his own field, The Times Higher Education printed a petition from a number of people working in the history field who have asked that David Starkey not be asked back onto Newsinght as a representative of the historical community. I also came across the NLI’s brand new blog. Beautifully laid out, the blog’s latest entry is discussing the ‘Small Lives’ exhibition at the National Photographic Archive that looks at the lives of ordinary Irish people as captured on camera. If you can’t get to the exhibit but you’re still interested in photography I would recommend Jacolette, a blog dedicated to historic photography.

Christina Morin Like Juliana, I’m writing at the moment, or, I should say, attempting to do so and largely failing. So slow is the progress that I find myself taking constant little breaks to do more pleasant, less head-wrecking things like obsessively checking Facebook; popping out for lunch/coffee/scone at my new favourite Trinity-area eatery, KC Peaches; re-reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (1860) (last month’s reading of The Moonstone inspired me); attending information sessions on the European Research Council’s Starting Grants (seriously good opportunities for early career academics within 2-12 years of receiving their PhD. The information packet, however, is incredibly daunting, and that’s not even to mention the application itself!); and (ahem – shameless self-promotion alert) organising my upcoming book launch. I’m ignoring the possibility that said activities are actually slowing my progress rather than relieving the tedium of slow progress!

Kevin O’Sullivan I’m caught in a dilemma. I know that at the start of every month I omit to tell you about some of the things that caught my eye over the preceding four weeks, but I don’t know what to do about it. Should I start keeping a diary, or is the fact that I remember some things and not others enough of a quality filter – i.e. the cream rises to the top? Whichever way, there’s always plenty to recommend, and this month is no different. First, be sure to drop in to see the exhibition of Matisse’s art books in Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library before it finishes this month – the same colour, fluidity and style of his great works, but presented in a very different format. Then, dip your toes in some contemporary history: Word magazine’s podcast discussion with Stuart Maconie, Andrew Harrison and Louise Wener about the origins and evolution of Britpop in the early 1990s (that’s nearly *twenty* years ago folks) is a fascinating foray into Britain’s cultural re-emergence in the aftermath of the Cold War. Finally, while the World Athletics Championships came and went last week with barely a whisper among the public and media here, I’ve been reading Ian O’Riordan’s Miles to Run, Promises to Keep as a reminder of Ireland’s past glories on the track. Which reminds me: Sports History Ireland is still going strong – its seventh annual conference takes place at the Hunt Museum in Limerick on 10 September.

Cabbies

2 September 2011

By Juliana Adelman

This is a portion of an image that I plan to use in the chapter I am working on about horses in nineteenth-century Dublin.  In their efforts to bring their passengers to their destination speedily, the cab drivers are trampling a baby underfoot and driving their horses to death.  The artist has depicted the message of anti-cruelty campaigners: cruelty to animals is associated with a callousness to human life (and a number of other vices in the remainder of the image).