Archive for October, 2011

You are what you read

7 October 2011

I was thinking recently about the ways in which we often talk about our reading habits in terms of eating and degustation: we’re said to have a ‘voracious appetite’ for books, which we ‘consume’ like candy, or, in the case of something ‘unsavoury’, brand it a production we simply can’t ‘stomach’. This thought naturally reminded me of an ad that used to be on tv when I was a kid and which, luckily, I was able to dig up in Youtube. Part of a campaign to encourage kids to eat healthily, it reminded them that, ‘You are what you eat’. Derrida might say that every book we read (and even some of those we don’t!) enters into our individual consciousness and thereafter shapes the way we think, read, write, and generally perceive. So, in a very real sense, we are what we read….

An interesting point I’ll be remembering next time I hit the bookshop…

Have a good weekend! – Tina

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Reminder: Enter our Competition!

5 October 2011

We’re nearing the deadline of our first competition, so here’s a reminder for everyone who hasn’t had a chance to get in on the action yet…

We are offering six Pue’s readers the opportunity to go on a special guided tour of the tower and roof of St Patrick’s Cathedral on the morning of Saturday the 22nd of October, led by the education officer, Andrew Smith. The competition is simple:

Summarize your favourite century of Irish history in 115 characters or less.

If you’re on twitter, send it as a tweet with the opening @puesoccurrences #puescomp. Otherwise drop us an email at puesoccurrences AT gmail DOT com. Every letter, every mark of punctuation and every space counts as a character. Short and punchy is the key. The deadline for entries is October 7th and we’ll announce the winners by October 12th. We’ll also publish the best entries on the blog.

The tour isn’t suitable for children under 16 or anyone afraid of heights or enclosed spaces. You can enter as many times as you like for as many centuries as you like, though there will only be one place for each winner. Even if you’re not free to take part in the tour, we still encourage you to join in on the fun! We’ve got some great entries so far, but the more the merrier! So get your thinking caps on and send us your description of your favourite century of Irish history.

To give you a taste, here’s one I drew up myself:

An Irish parliament won&lost; Rebellions fought;‘terrorist’ fiction wrought; Union debated; Emancipation slated.

See our dedicated competition page.

Sh***ing Bricks

5 October 2011

By Christina Morin

A friend on Facebook recently alerted me to this compelling piece: ‘Twenty-Five Insights on Becoming a Better Writer’. Gathered from a veritable who’s who of famous writers, the tips all speak to my own experience of writing and, even more poignantly, to my struggles with writer’s block and procrastination (hence my faffing about on Facebook). The suggestion that particularly stuck in my head – and made me laugh outright – was that offered by Sarah Waters on the subject of discipline. Noting her own self-imposed daily word count of at least 1,000 words, Waters writes that this ‘is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick’. A graphic image, but certainly one with which I can relate. I’ve never tried Waters’ suggestion of a minimum daily word count, which is possibly why I often find myself in the situation where, after a long day at the laptop, I seem to have regressed rather than progressed on a given piece of work. It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling, and one that doesn’t bode well for my enthusiasm levels upon return to the computer. Waters, like a couple of the other writers quoted in the piece, makes the point though, that it’s better to write a load of nonsense, or ‘rubbish’ as she calls it, than not to write at all. At least rubbish gives you something with which to work. Read more

Conference: Improving Ireland? 11 to 12 November, UCD

4 October 2011

We are piloting a new system of events announcements starting this month.  Instead of the events page, we will be posting a single announcement for events that are sent to us.  If you want to post an event, please send an email of no more than 300 words with an attached image.  If there is a website for the event don’t forget to include the address.  We will post the notice one time and one time only.  We will endeavour to post notices within 5 days of receiving the notice.  We reserve the right to refuse to post events if we have too many events submitted in one week, if your event does not seem suitable for Pue’s readers or for any other reason that may occur to us!

The annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland will take place at University College Dublin on the 11th and 12th of November 2011.  The conference, organised by Catherine Cox and Lindsey Earner-Byrne, is entitled ‘Improving Ireland?’.  The conference will ask: what was improvement, and why did it matter? Whether a direct product of conquest and colonization, or a more benign force for change apparently for the good of the country, the impetus and desire to improve Ireland from an agricultural, societal, scientific, medical, educational, religious, cultural, linguistic or other perspective was evident both within and outside Ireland over the centuries. The motivations behind improvement differed depending on the time, place and circumstance, the people involved, and the outcomes desired. How did different endeavours affect or help to shape Ireland over time? Who were the agents of the drive to improve Ireland and why? How was the concept of improvement defined at any given time and to what degree was it contested? This conference will consider the various issues raised by the concept of ‘improving Ireland’ throughout history.  Further information about the conference and the ESHSI is available at the society’s website.

Pue’s Recommendations for October

3 October 2011

Juliana Adelman  Last month I posted on my autumn resolutions which included reading more fiction.  So far I’ve enjoyed The third party (Glenn Patterson) and Jamrach’s Menagerie (Carol Birch).  I’m only halfway into J. G. Farrell’s Troubles set in Ireland after WWI, but it is my favourite so far.  It is faintly reminiscent of The Irish R.M. series but Farrell’s portrayal of the atmosphere of inter-war (and then civil-war) Ireland and Britain is at least as convincing as some of his characters and a pleasure to read.  The British Society for the History of Science has started a great blog devoted to reviews of history science museums and sites and open for contributions.  So far this island is only represented by the Ulster Hall, but it’s a good idea.  Finally, in my continued interest in combining maps with other kinds of information I came across two interesting web sites that are linking stories to places: Storymap (by two Irish film makers) and Lifescapes: mapping Dublin lives (a collaborative project in Trinity College Dublin).

Lisa Marie Griffith For the last month I have been watching ‘The Story of Film: An Odyssey’ on Channel 4. This is a documentary about the history of film, but it is far from traditional. The documentary refuses to look at the best-selling and most popular films and is consciously inclusive and international in its outlook with a strong focus on both the small and large innovations (like light, editing, shading, actors, sets) which helped drive forward the art of film. What I really like about this series is that it highlights a radical step or scene taken by a film and then points out other film makers who have copied this idea (often very closely), so that iconic scenes in modern films are often shown to be subtle sign posts of where that film maker’s inspiration originated from. The 1930s aired on Saturday and the 1940s are due for this Saturday but if you’d like to catch up you can watch it on 4oD. Film 4 are also airing some of the films featured in the documentary. I am a huge Hilary Mantel fan and caught an interview of Mantal a couple of weeks back. She is currently writing a follow up to Wolf Hall but due to illness it has been delyaed. To keep myself occupied in the meantime I have picked up Beyond Black, which the interviewer claimed was a blend of Mantel’s contemporary books and historic fiction. I visited the Dublin Contemporary exhibition at Culture Night. While tickets are expensive (€10 although I got in for free), it is well worth a visit but ends 31 October.

Christina Morin As I mentioned last week, I was down in Cork for the Digital Cultures Workshop – a fascinating day and a half of lectures, slams, and discussion about the current and future state of Digital Humanities in Ireland, Europe, and further afield. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights soon, but suffice it to say now that I was incredibly inspired, encouraged, and excited by the whole event and can’t wait to follow through on some of the ideas that started brewing in my brain! In the meantime, since this is October, I think it’s only appropriate to mention a couple of ‘scary’ events to prepare for Halloween. Something that’s certainly taken my fancy is the Horrorthon Film Festival at the IFI Halloween weekend. Earlier that week (26 October), there’s the launch of Charles Robert Maturin and the Haunting of Irish Romantic Fiction by yours truly from 6:30 at the Neill/Hoey Lecture Theatre in Trinity’s Long Room Hub. All Pue’s readers most welcome!

Kevin O’Sullivan  In case you’ve missed it (how could you?), it’s the 100th anniversary of Flann O’Brien’s birth. So if you’ve never done so, or need an excuse to do so again, dig out some of his books and sit down in the shortening evenings with a pint of plain. As those who’ve shared an office with me in the past will know, I’m a big fan of puns, so the short collection edited from his Irish Times columns, The Various Lives of Keats, Chapman and the Brother, is among my favourites. But it’s all good. I also came across a couple of excellent apps in the last month. Evernote is great for taking notes, making to-do lists and the like, with the added handiness of adding photos and syncing between your computer and phone. And RDM+ is a free app that lets you control your computer from your phone or Blackberry – handy for Powerpoint, etc.