Between Places and Spaces: Landscapes of Liminality
Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin
5-6 June, 2014
‘Eye-opener: Drawing Landscape, Near and Far.’
What can the practice of en plein air landscape drawing bring to cross-disciplinary understandings of spatiality, materiality and self-world relations? To address this question, this presentation will draw upon a year-long visual arts-based collaboration between myself and a contemporary fine artist (Catrin Webster). Our collaboration has involved a primary learning process (for me), ongoing professional practice (for Catrin), and extended conceptual conversation. After setting the scene for this collaboration, I will talk about the embodied skills and habits of visual and spatial apprehension which the incorporation of painterly practice affords. And speaking to this conference’s interest in spatial tropes such as liminality, intimacy and exposure, I will use the exemplar of painting and drawing to elucidate my developing sense that distance and dislocation are the distinctive elements of landscape as a mode of spatial experience, imagination and presentation.
John Wylie is a cultural geographer who writes on landscape theory, corporeality, affectivity and spectrality among other topics. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, he is the author of Landscape (Routledge, 2007), is Head of Geography at the University of Exeter, and, from 2013, is a managing editor of the international journal Cultural Geographies (Sage).
Bernice M. Murphy
‘Cities of the Insane: The Asylum as Ruin in Recent American Horror Narratives.’
In recent years, the depiction of the ‘insane asylum’ as a dilapidated ruin that is both metaphorically and literally haunted by the ghosts of the past is one that has become an ever more frequent trope in American horror narratives. In this paper I will outline the factors which gave rise to the development of these so-called “Cities of the Insane” – some of which housed many thousands of patients and staff members, and which essentially functioned as entirely self-sufficient communities in and of themselves – and the changes in both public policy and in the treatment and perception of mental health disorders which meant that almost all of these institutions had been closed down by the mid-1980s. With reference to recent films and TV shows such as Session 9 (2009), Hannibal (2001), Grave Encounters (2011) and, in particular, the television series American Horror Story: Asylum (FX 2012-13) I will argue that the ruined asylum functions in these narratives as an archetypal ‘Landscape of Fear’ dramatising profound unease about both the controversial legacy of these institutions and evolving perceptions of the mentally ill in American society more generally. I will also be briefly discussing the work of photographer Christopher Payne, whose book Asylum (2009) serves as an eerily compelling testament to the remarkable visual power of these abandoned sites and of our continuing fascination with the stories of the people who once inhabited them.
Bernice M. Murphy is Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Popular Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. Her recent publications include: The Highway Horror Film (2014) and The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture: Backwoods Horror and Terror in the Wilderness (2013). She has also published The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (2009) and (with Darryl Jones and Elizabeth McCarthy) It Came From the 1950s: Popular Culture, Popular Anxieties (2011) and Shirley Jackson: Essays on the Literary Legacy (2005). Her research to date has mainly focused on the significance of place and space in American horror and gothic narratives.
‘Toward the Margins: Dark Memories of a Futuristic Megalopolis.’
Rapid modernisation, along with the necessity of hosting an incontrollable growth, has involved drastic spatial transformation in modern urban contexts. If the dramatic changes in the Western landscape, with the progressive “gothicization” of urban space and its advancing “metropolitan uncanny”, belong to the recent past, our contemporary era is witnessing the chaotic and alien expansion of the Asian megalopolis resulting from the exigencies of a fast growing economy and of an irrepressible phenomenon of migration toward the cities. In Bangkok – like Beijing or Singapore – we thus find the modern unhomely spaces of centralized margins, with the appearance of ruinous sites on the fringe as well as in the centre of the urban landscape: aborted constructions amongst the high-rises; industrial derelicts; vacated or abandoned buildings left behind during periods of urban development and social changes; confiscated yards. The city, the metaphorically domesticated space of order and regulation, where boundaries ought to be delimited and linear, has increasingly enclosed such elements – modern ruins – that transgress and subvert our everyday encounter with space and place.
The paper, through the analysis of Bangkok’s urban space – conceived as emblematic of contemporary megalopolis – aims at investigating the concept of “uncanny urbanity”: a landscape on the edge between visible and invisible, in which myths, modern ruins, forbidden places and the intense and uncanny nature of tropical regions – creating an invisible map that overlaps real geography – concur in creating a peculiar aesthetics of space. Exploring modern myths, real and virtual geography, the paper focuses on outlining the main elements concurring to the building up of an imagery founded on the feeling and the notion of the city as the place of loss, as a contemporary, enchanted forest.
Alessandra Campoli: After obtaining a Master of Arts in Art History and a post-master diploma in Art Management Psychology at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, in 2012 Alessandra completed her practice-based PhD in Media Arts at the University of the West of Scotland. Since 2004, she has undertaken a great deal of theoretical and practical research on European and Asian visual arts, with the partnership and support of international institutions such as the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, the University of the West of Scotland, Silpakorn University of Bangkok, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Scottish Art Council. Her research work has been integrated with the roles of part-time lecturer in Digital Art at the University of the West of Scotland, and visiting lecturer in Performance Art at Silpakorn University, Bangkok. Since 2011, Alessandra has been working as module leader in Critical and Cultural Studies and tutor in Art and Design at the Interactive Design Institute (Musselburgh, Edinburgh).
‘Room of Fear: Space and Emotion in the Soviet Communal Apartment.’
The ‘everyday space’ of the Soviet communal apartment of the 1920’s challenges Tuan’s conceptualisation of space/place; security of place was constantly threatened by severe overcrowding, the surveillance of neighbours, the intrusion of state security services, and arbitrarily imposed managerial hierarchies; urban space was drastically diminished due to mass urban migration from rural areas and the state’s failure to build new and renovate old housing stock. Though it first emerged as a temporary housing measure the communal apartment became a cornerstone of Soviet ideology proving as it did to be a space in which the State could transform Russians into Soviet citizens via social levelling and enforced collectivity. This paper will examine the fantastic treatment of the communal apartment in the short story Quadraturin (1926) by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950) focussing specifically on the constitutive interrelationship between space and emotions. It will investigate how, when boundaries between public and private space became ideologically and physically (in some cases) transparent, the psychic and emotional integrity of the individual is threatened. It will show, via an analysis of literary tropes, somatic responses, and descriptions of space which operate as semantic spaces of emotion, how fear can be interpreted as the dominant emotion within the communal apartment.
Lucy Carr is registered in the Russian and Slavonic Department at TCD where she also lectures intermittently on 19th century Russian literature, Soviet literature, aspects of 19th and 20th century culture and social history. She graduated from this department in 2011 and is currently a 2nd year PhD student investigating the literary representation of emotions in the communal apartment, provisionally titled ‘Constructing Nervous People: Envy, Fear and Paranoia in Literary Representations of the Soviet Communal Apartment’. Her supervisor is Dr Sarah Smyth.
‘Contested Commemoration in Public Spaces: How does the Irish State commemorate its war dead? A comparative analysis of commemoration at The Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square and the National War Memorial, Islandbridge.’
‘We are extremely uneasy with memorials that are not strictly our own’
Kevin Myers, The Irish Times, 18 April 1998
In April 1998, shortly after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Kevin Myers asked, now that peace has been achieved in Northern Ireland, ‘what then?’, is the next step ‘to memorialise the dead or not?’ and ‘if yes, selectively or totally?’ Although he was writing over fifteen years ago, the same question of selectively can be asked today when memorialising the dead in the Republic of Ireland. This paper will focus in particular on spatial memorialisation of the war dead in Dublin City, and what these places represent in terms of a fluctuating, liminal Irish identity and collective memory. With the ‘decade of commemoration’ and the one hundredth anniversaries of the beginning of the Great War as well as the Easter Rising approaching, the question of memorialisation in public spaces is a prevalent one. This paper will examine two open public spaces of commemoration in Dublin City: The Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square and The Irish National War Memorial Gardens (INWMG), Islandbridge. By these contrasting sites this paper will look in particular at the separation, both metaphorically and physically, of two different groups of martyred dead: those who fought for Irish Independence and those who fought in the Great War. The fact that these two groups have been made distinct from one another is a telling indication of Irish historical narratives of commemoration. In terms of geographical location, commemoration of the dead in the Garden of Remembrance stands in stark contrast to the War Memorial Gardens. Parnell Square, situated at the top of O’Connell street Dublin’s main thoroughfare, is in the heart of the city, whereas Islandbridge is nearly 3 kilometres from the city centre. Islandbridge was in many ways a memorial to what Anne Dolan describes as an ‘awkward type of silence’, a memorial which is the based on a ‘fragile peace where there had to be a silence’ in order for it to exist. The peripheral treatment of the dead of the Great War in comparison to those who died in pursuit of Irish freedom will be the focus of this paper.
Maeve Casserly is an M.Phil student in Public History and Cultural Heritage in TCD. She graduated with a Honours BA in History and Political Science from TCD in 2012 and has since worked on editorial, archival and commemorative projects with Documents in Foreign Policy, Royal Irish Academy: the Historic Properties Dept of the OPW, based in Dublin Castle: the Irish Manuscripts Commission: and the Royal Society of Antiquarians of Ireland. Her most recent project has been the running of a daylong workshop in the Royal Irish Academy for ‘Discover Research Dublin’ 27th Sept 2013, which members of the public were taught how to use resources from the RIA to conduct their own research. She is currently working in Glasnevin Trust Museum on a project cataloguing the causes of death from the Great War, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, and the Civil War. Maeve has presented papers at the Inaugural Conference of the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class, NUIG, and is due to present papers at conferences in DCU and Glasnevin Museum in April and May 2014. Her previous academic work has been published in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, The History and Humanities Journal (TCD) and the Trinity Literary Review. She is currently writing a Masters Thesis on the contrasting grass-roots commemorative initiatives of the 1913 Dublin Lockout and the outbreak of the Great War.
‘What Have We Done to Ourselves? Exploring the Duality of Simulacra and Sanctuary in George Romero’s Undead Narratives.’
“I’m afraid. You’re hypnotized by this place. All of you! You don’t see that it’s not a sanctuary, it’s a prison!”
Having lost a battle of wills between her fellow survivor to keep their television turned off, a heavily pregnant woman, dressed in the latest maternity fashions, throws down her fork amongst the remnants of a fondue platter. She looks around their assiduously furnished apartment and asks above the buzz of white noise and groans of the undead; “What have we done to ourselves?”As a theme, plot device and character motivation, seeking refuge from the undead, is an integral aspect of the zombie narrative. However, this professed sanctuary, within the wasted landscape of Romero’s films, seems to habitually come at a great cost to the survivor, both physically and psychologically.
Throughout the course of this paper, I wish to explore, the notion of sanctuary or “the safe place,” in relation to George Romero’s zombie films. As a mode of understanding the complex relationship which exists between apocalyptic survivors and their need to create an inauthentic living space, I will invoke a number of philosophical treatises, primarily Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. According to the social theorist, the simulacrum “is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none.”
For the apocalyptic survivors of Romero’s undead narratives, their seemingly perpetual need, to not only seek out shelters, but create seemingly amnesic, even luxurious domiciles, this definition is most pertinent, especially considering the very society which would have appraised their sanctuary so, has inexorably and terminally broken down.
Sarah Cleary is a PhD student in her final year at Trinity College Dublin. For her doctorate, she is researching the relationship between children and a century of controversial horror texts, across a range of mediums including film, comic book and video games. Combined with her studies, she tutors at Trinity College in Popular Literature and Romanticism. She has presented on horror, media manipulation, censorship and sexuality at numerous conferences including the IGA, and international conferences. She is a reviewer for the Irish Journal of Gothic Horror and will be published later this year in forthcoming publications on zombies, sexuality and fan media. In her spare time she produces The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Dublin.
Somewhere behind us: Louis MacNeice’s spectres of war.’
This paper explores the trope of the spectre in MacNeice’s interwar poetry. Particular episodes in Autumn Journal (1939) and a selection of poems from The Earth Compels (1938) will be used to demonstrate how the figure of the ghost enters MacNeice’s work as the symptom of historical trauma, and that these instances of haunting work to underscore the type of sociality that mass disappearance engenders in a population. Autumn Journal is a poem that hovers in limbo, between various spaces and times (and also allegiances), yet all of the poem’s events find themselves connected through the greater theme of loss in an age plagued by “war and war’s alarms”. The question of the dead amongst the living was at the forefront of MacNeice’s mind as he composed the poem in the run up to the Second World War, and his ghosts, I will argue, emerge not only as the abstract spectre of a returning history but as those who have been and will be wiped out as a result of war’s atrocities. As Derrida, in Spectres of Marx, notes: “[i]t is a proper characteristic of the specter, if there is any, that no one can be sure if by returning it testifies to a living past or to a living future” (99).
Eve Cobain is a second year PhD Student at Trinity College where she is a Government of Ireland Research Scholar (2013-16). Her thesis considers the importance of music in the work of the middle generation American poet, John Berryman.
Liminal Identities of Migrant Groups – the Russian Old Believers of Romania.’
This paper contributes to a long-standing debate on ethnic identity by exploring the concept in relation to that of ‘liminality’. Moving from liminality as a transitional stage, as initially configured by Arnold Gennep (1908) and rediscovered by Victor Turner (1967), I rather adhere to its interpretation as continuous state of being as proposed by Arpad Szabolczai (2000). To that end liminality retains some of its characteristics signalled by its initial proponents but serves to create a unique in-between situation with a long span. Research of migrants as liminal people has been previously conducted, yet it was mostly focused on recent migrants finding themselves at the interstices of society, negotiating their identities and sense of belonging against a hegemonic majority. The case of Romanian Old Believers offers grounds for examining different facets of migrants’ liminality. The group poses an interesting challenge as now, three centuries after their migration from Russia, still retains a liminal identity.
In an effort to trace this, I will explore the intricate relationship built with a mythical Russian homeland of belonging as a social and cultural construction rather than an attachment to an existing place. Theories of belonging and ethnic identity will be used to further expand my query of how liminal identities are negotiated and performed in daily life. In doing so I will particularly focus on the in-between points created over time such as language use, use of calendar and religious practices. Through this exploration I aim to offer new insights in the research of older migrant groups who, instead of becoming assimilated by the larger majority culture, build insular lives, bridging both their historic origins and their acquired nationalities. The paper thus offers new interpretations of liminal identities, a discussion of interest on the background of increased inter-ethnic conflicts in the modern world.
Cristina Clopot is a PhD Student in the Languages and Intercultural Studies Department, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Intercultural Research Centre (IRC) at Heriot Watt University. Her current research is situated in the vast field of intercultural studies, with a particular focus on migration. For her thesis she is working towards tracing ideas of identity and culture related to Old Believers ethnic group in Romania.
‘Post-Gay Geographical Imaginations: A Critique of Queer Space.’
Geographical imaginations of queer space are socially, politically and economically produced through historical and theoretical constructions. ‘Post-Gay’ Space is an emerging concept that critiques the homonormative nature of queer urban spaces as self-segregating areas of exclusionary capitalist consumption. Rather than isolating themselves from ‘straights’ and perceived ‘heterosexual’ locales, post- gay supporters promote the assimilation of the queer community into the ‘mainstream’. Although this movement advocates equality for all, it assumes a certain level of homonormativity that is unattainable for many. The concept is problematic as it seemingly ignores contextual boundaries that might prevent marginalized members of the queer community from attaining positional uniformity within queer spaces. This outlook appears both conscious of the dynamic nature of queer space and culture while simultaneously disregarding positionality and perception of queer subjects.
Through a queer theoretical lens, I explore the development of ‘queer’ spaces; why they are needed, how they are formed, who is occupying them and how they evolve over time. Following this will be an explanation of the Post-Gay movement as a reaction to particular views of gay culture and political developments. I argue that although the conception of post-gay space is somewhat progressive, it is ultimately a privileged construction that ignores the contextual nature of space and marginalized ‘Other’ identities within the queer community.
Faye Cobb: I received my B.A. from Nazareth College where I double majored in Spanish and International Studies and minored in Business and Management. I then received my M.S. in Science for International Studies at Saint John Fisher College. I am currently a Ph.D. student at Florida International University in the Global and Sociocultural Studies Department. My research interests include Queer studies, Transnationalism, Globalization, Space, and Identity. My dissertation research focuses on transnational movements of Queer students to universities within the United States. A comparison will be drawn between urban and rural spaces. The purpose is to examine the positionality of transnational Queer students and how the influx of transnational Queers impacts these areas socially, politically, economically and culturally. This analysis will consequently illuminate the significance of Queer transnational movements and their impact upon the country of origin as well, revealing Queer migration patterns and the cost of a continuous departure of potential Queer activist power. Furthermore, this study scrutinizes the recruitment tactics of major universities targeted towards Queer students to determine whether these campaigns are sincere or strategic.
‘An appalling slavery to the dismal phantasms of their own minds’: Dangerous Male Obsession and the Perversion of the Domestic Space in Modern Horror Fiction”
‘Man and the world are in a community of dangers. They are dangerous for each other.’
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space.
Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenological analysis portrays the home as a protective womb-like space. This can easily be applied to a literary correlation between the female body and the home. Bachelard, however, makes an intriguing foray into the literature of terror when he makes reference to Poe’s ‘Fall of the House of Usher’; a story about dangerous male obsession growing within a home identified fully with the masculine, even resembling its owner with its ‘vacant eye-like windows’. Since the folk tales of Bluebeard there has been a tradition of anxiety surrounding male obsession and the domestic space. This reaches a dramatic crescendo in Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho, made famous by Hitchcock’s film version. Psycho’s overbearing Freudian narrative of scopophilia and perversion exemplifies this thread of storytelling about the threatening masculine domestic space and bears comparison with Usher, with the female presence lurking beneath (whether Madeline or ‘Mother’). What the film version leaves out is Norman Bates’ obsession with lurid depictions of human sacrifice which he reads, away from the disapproving eye of his mother. This anxiety of influence can be best read through the influence of Bloch’s mentor, H.P. Lovecraft, whose short story ‘The Picture in the House’ depicts remarkably similar themes. The ways in which the meaning of the domestic space is transformed by this sinister male presence will be explored through these and with reference to other late twentieth-century horror narratives including Richard Matheson’s Hell House, Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror, and Stephen King’s The Shining, arguing that these texts show a radical identification of the human, specifically male, body and the house, reflecting the anxieties of their social and political contexts and showing how the home can be transformed into a liminal space between safety and danger, to horrific effect.
Kevin Corstorphine is Lecturer in English at the University of Hull, and holds a PhD entitled Space and Fear in Contemporary American Horror Fiction. As well as chapters and articles on authors including H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and Steven King, he has recently published a chapter (‘The blank darkness outside’: Ambrose Bierce and wilderness Gothic at the end of the frontier’) bringing together Ecocriticism and American Gothic in EcoGothic (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), and is under contract with Reaktion for a book entitled The Haunted House.
‘Icons of a Nation: Fashioning the World Trade Center Towers in The Concert for New York City and 9/11 Poetry.’
The World Trade Center’s former Twin Towers occupy a liminal space in American cultural memory. They also epitomize, more than any architectural structure in recent history, an enigma that cultural and literary geographers strive to solve: How and why do individuals, organizations, and creators of literary and other cultural texts shape buildings’ symbolic meanings? Cultural creators and many New Yorkers have intentionally, and for various purposes, conceptually blended the Towers with human beings, specifically Americans, fostering Americans’ self-identification with the Towers. Particularly since 9/11, these acts have exemplified Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s theory of “conceptual integration” or “conceptual blending.”
In this essay I analyze representations of the Towers in two under-researched post-9/11 cultural materials that have helped people cope with the tragedy and that embody the range of blends, and their underlying tropes, that have humanized the Towers: The Concert for New York City, a video production of a benefit concert staged in October 2001; and poetry published within a year of the attacks. Both forms of artistic representation employ poetic images and texts that intentionally blend the Towers and people, specifically Americans, to humanize the buildings. It is their audiences and their purposes for humanizing the Towers that differ. In The Concert, blends demonstrate American resilience and defiance and promote a military response to the attacks. By contrast, in poetry, blends represent Americans empathetically and construct a more diverse post-9/11 American nationhood. Now, with construction on the Freedom Tower—a building that already symbolizes post-9/11 American resilience—in its final stage, it is critical to examine how the Freedom Tower’s predecessors, the original WTC Towers, have come to symbolize Americans and American national identity, and how Americans have used the Twin Towers to characterize themselves.
Kristen Deiter is an Assistant Professor of English at Tennessee Tech University, where she teaches courses on British Literature and critical theory. She is the author of The Tower of London in English Renaissance Drama: Icon of Opposition (Routledge, 2008) and articles on literary representations of place and space in Philological Quarterly (2010), Comparative Drama (2013), and other journals.
‘Hidden Cults and Hive Consciousness in the Urban Horror Story.’
The city in twentieth-century thought emerges as destabilised and alienating, fracturing rather than unifying the populations which inhabit it and fostering anomie and confusion rather than certainty and belonging. In particular, the modern city is often seen as characterised by what Henri Lefebvre refers to in The Production of Space as “abstract space,” spaces devoted to single functions such as administration or retail, where only certain, predetermined activities are performed or even permitted. For Lefebvre, with the triumph of abstract space over multifunctional, communal spaces and activities such as marketplaces, fairs and places of worship, “the city’s contexture or fabric – its streets, its underground levels, its frontiers – unravel, and generate not concord but violence. Indeed space as a whole becomes prone to sudden eruptions of violence” (222-23).
In essence, this is the situation dramatised in a number of short stories written by science fiction and horror writers towards the middle of the twentieth century, specifically Fritz Leiber’s “Smoke Ghost” from 1941, and Harlan Ellison’s “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” from 1973. Leiber and Ellison’s stories, as I argue in this paper, juxtapose scenes of violence, urban fear and bodily harm with depictions of city-dwellers as a heterogeneous mass of individuals isolated from one other by the conditions of their environment. At the same time, however, these very conditions unite them, in that they share the experience of alienation, even as that condition is heightened rather than reduced. Specifically, these stories, along with a number of others by Ray Bradbury and Thomas Ligotti, posit the only form of community possible in such a dystopic urban environment as being fundamentally religious in nature – but vitally, due to the anomic state of these spaces, these religious communities are depicted as covert, unofficial and, universally, murderous.
Dara Downey is a Lecturer in American Literature in the School of English, Drama and Film in University College Dublin. She is the author of American Women’s Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age (forthcoming, Palgrave August 2014), as well as numerous essays on American gothic literature from Charles Brockden Brown and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and Mark Z. Danielewski. She is co-editor (with Jenny McDonnell) of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies and also edits for The Irish Journal of American Studies.
‘The Playing Pitch in Team Sports as a Liminal Space in the Negotiation of Masculine Identity by Gay Men.’
For this paper I interviewed five Irish men from a gay orientated club in Dublin. Drawing primarily on the work of Connell on hegemonic masculinity, Anderson on inclusive masculinities and Goffman on identity I examine how these men negotiate their masculinity in the setting of gay orientated sports club who play against ostensibly straight opponents in a competitive league and other gay orientated clubs in specifically gay tournaments. The effect of these situational contexts on the performance of masculinity is examined. I also consider their biographical experiences such as ‘coming out’ and adolescent sporting experiences then place these occurrences in the context of Irish cultural change. Despite positive advances in the social acceptance of homosexuality there remains a lingering stigma attached to gay men in sport. Gay men must then negotiate and perform certain elements of masculinity if they are to be accepted in sport. I argue that this leads to the emulation of orthodox sporting masculinity by gay men who then become complicit in their own domination. The pitch then is a liminal space as gay sportsmen hover between their gay identity and the more orthodox hegemonic masculinity embedded in the sporting sphere.
Mark Doyle: I recently graduated from University College Dublin’s MSocSc in Sociology program. My research was concerned with how gay men used sports as a cultural strategy to perform masculinity and exorcise an internal sense of deviance to the hegemonic ideal of masculinity. I recently delivered a lecture to the ‘men in contemporary society’ undergraduate class on this topic. In April I will begin my PhD research into this topical area.
‘A Higher Form of Stereometry: Hyperobjects and Historical Trauma in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz.’
Since its publication in English in 2001, W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz has generated a rich body of critical literature in fields as diverse as architectural history, memory studies, and photography theory. But the novel, which follows the title character’s quest to discover the fate of his Czech Jewish parents, has been most commonly interpreted through the lens of trauma theory—as a second-generation Holocaust memoir that is unable or unwilling to engage directly with the horror of the camps. Certainly the text is preoccupied with silences and gaps: in the mind of the individual, the official records of the Holocaust, and the cultural memory of modern Europe. In this paper, however, I resist the prevailing tendency to frame Austerlitz’s search for his origins as a journey inwards, whether into the recesses of his memory or the depths of the archive. Instead, I examine how the text’s meticulous descriptions of structures, spaces, and things facilitate an expansion of attention, a turning-outwards that destabilizes traditional oppositions between interior/exterior and subject/object.
Drawing on Timothy Morton’s concept of the ‘hyperobject,’ I read Austerlitz’s descriptive impulse as a strategy for registering the felt experience of entities too massively distributed across space and time to be directly perceived by individual subjects. While Morton focuses on ecological phenomena like global warming, I suggest that the concept may be expanded to encompass world-historical ‘events’ like the Holocaust, WWII, and late capitalism—events that cross, and to some extent confound, divisions between natural and human history. Within literary studies, a renewed interest in the relationship between humans, objects, and the material world has begun to foster new dialogues between the sciences and humanities. My object-oriented rereading of Sebald’s celebrated novel engages with larger debates about interdisciplinary scholarship, while illustrating how literary texts like Austerlitz can provide new methodologies for pursuing such work.
Jessica Egan is a graduate student in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include modernist literature, affect theory, and gender and sexuality studies. She recently completed an M.A. thesis on W.G. Sebald and object-oriented ontology.
‘Close Listening – Urban Soundscapes in Manhattan Transfer, Berlin Alexanderplatz and Ulysses.’
The aesthetics of urban living have already been made the objective of a variety of research; especially literary studies after the “spatial turn” exhibit an immense body of research concerning the metropolis. The majority of research studies that analyze urban spaces in fiction from a sensory perspective adhere to a visual paradigm that has been predominant in literary analyzes after the “iconic turn”. But during the last twenty years this “hegemony of vision” has been challenged by interdisciplinary researchers of sound studies, which brought about the “acoustic turn”. In this paper, I want to shift the focus to the auditory qualities of cities as they are presented in three of the most seminal city novels of the early 20th century: Dublin in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), New York City in John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer (1925) and Berlin in Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929).
This approach examines the fictionalization, the strategies of aesthetization, the staging, translation and projection of urban sound in literature by investigating what kinds of sounds are included in the city portraits, how they are incorporated into the literary texts and to which end. The evaluation of the discursive and constitutive function of sound in this context follows Karin Bijsterveld’s typology of four basic effects of sounds in literature. Two sound types are perceived as positive: comforting sounds, such as the distant breaking of waves, and sensational sounds, such as the uplifting traffic in the city. The two negatively connoted intrusive sounds of, for instance, rain hammering on roofs, and sinister sounds, such as distant police sirens create a gloomy impression of the modern metropolis. Overall, this paper is designed to contribute to a productive and fruitful engagement with urban soundscapes in literature; a field of research that remains unjustly marginal in most studies on city life.
Annika Eisenberg studied German and English Linguistics and Literature at the Technical University Darmstadt (Germany) and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UK) as an undergraduate and received her Master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz (Germany) after a research visit at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA). She currently pursues her PhD at the Goethe-University Frankfurt (Germany) with a study on transmedial urban sound theories using the cities Los Angeles and Dublin through different eras and media forms as examples. Her main research interests include poetry, the city, fictional biographies, and intermedia studies. In 2013 she was awarded the Phyllis Bridges Award on Biography at the SW/TX PCA/ACA conference for her paper on fictional Kafka biographies.
‘In Between Days; Domestic Liminality in the work of Aideen Barry.’
“I think one of the things that enables me to make work, is that I am never at ease, I never feel I am at home and I am rarely comfortable where I am. This causes me to constantly question why that is, why do I not belong and how can I address these feelings.”
This paper sets out to explore the work of contemporary Irish artist Aideen Barry, whose fine art practice is permeated by surreal images of the home as contested zone, a liminal space, a place of confinement, uneasiness and repression. Barry’s domestic spaces draw upon a rich range of references from Jentsch (1906), Freud (1919) to Charlotte Gilman Perkins (1892). The homes she depicts are dangerous places, constantly in a state of flux, threatened by forces of social pressure from without and forces of mental anxiety from within. Using the trope of the imprisoned woman and the threatened home, Barry creates female protagonists who are constantly depicted as operating in a liminal zone. These troubled figures enact nervous rituals, simulate domestic rites, but cannot escape from the strange limbo they have been trapped in. They are sealed within spheres (Heteratopic Glitch, 2008, with Anne Ffrench), they mutate into hybrid beings (Vaccuuming in a Vacuum, 2009), they hover above the ground (Levitating, 2007) and they ultimately consume themselves (Possession, 2011).
Drawing on previous explorations of the connection between the domestic and the female role such as Gilbert and Gubar (1979) and Ellis (1989), this paper considers Barry’s subversion of domestic space, and her evocation of the return of the repressed to constitute home as a liminal space, a threshold, a site of dangerous possibilities, a domestic dystopia.
Tracy Fahey is Head of Department in Fine Art and Head of Centre of Postgraduate Studies in Limerick School of Art and Design. She has previously worked as Head of Department of Humanities, IT Carlow and Head of Faculty of Design, Griffith College Dublin. She currently sits on the Board of the Hunt Museum (2012) and the Limerick Printmakers (2012). Her main area of research is the Gothic, specifically Irish Gothic and the Gothic nature of domestic space. She has delivered papers on the Gothic at conferences in Denmark, Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland, the US, New Zealand and Italy. She is a founder member of the Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia (2013) and the Irish Network for Gothic Scholars (2013). In 2010 she founded the Limerick-based collaborative gothic art practice, Gothicise, who have produced ghostwalk/ghosttalk (2010), The Double Life of Catherine Street (2011) and A Haunting (2011) and are currently working on two projects, Looking for Wildgoose Lodge (2013-ongoing) and Waking St. Munchin (2014). She has written on the Gothic for The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies (2011), the Gothic Studies Journal (2009) with several book chapters and articles forthcoming in 2014. She is one of the founders of the design research centre in IT Carlow – designCORE, and has completed several successful Enterprise Ireland funding applications with designCORE. In 2013 she established the LSAD research centre ACADEmy (Art, Curatorial, Applied Design & Education research centre.) Together with Prof. Brien (Central Queensland University, Australia) she is co-convener of CAIRN, the Creative Australasian Irish Research Network (2013). Tracy has delivered guest lectures and invited talks in Windesheim University, the Netherlands, University of Applied Sciences, Kouvala, Finland, MI, Bergen, Interior Dekoratorfag Skolen, Oslo, and University of Limerick.
‘Contested Space: The King George II statue, St. Stephen’s Green 1758-1937.’
In 1758, a statue in honour of King George II was erected in the centre of St. Stephen’s Green. This was the first statue placed in the park, which served to politicise the space. The work of the celebrated sculptor John Van Nost the Younger, the statue depicted the king in Roman garb and triumphalist pose. Despite being sat upon a high pedestal, some have argued to protect it from the type of assault which was common in the case of the King William III monument at College Green. The statue was nonetheless a frequent target of attack, with one commentator noting in 1818 that ‘for a number of years it appeared to be destined to fall like that of Sejanus by the hands of ruffians.’ Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, other statues and monuments would join that of George II in the Green, which was opened to the public at the expense of Lord Ardilaun of the Guinness family in 1880. In the years which followed independence, there were two bomb attacks on the monument, with the second in 1937 bringing about its removal from the park. This paper will examine the controversies around this monument, and the discourse around imperial monuments in an independent Dublin. Utilising sources such as the Department of Justice ‘Crime and Security’ files, which contain detailed reports on the bombings of the monument, as well as the archives of the Irish press and other sources, the contested nature of the statue and the space it occupied will be examined.
Donal Fallon is a PhD candidate with the Department of History and Archives at University College Dublin, researching the politics of republican commemoration in 1930s Dublin. His most recent publication is a study of the ‘Animal Gang’ of 1930s Dublin, published by Irish Academic Press in ‘Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life’. He is editor of the Dublin history website ‘Come Here To Me’ (www.comeheretome.com), a ‘Best Of’ which was published in December 2012 by New Island Books. His study of the Nelson Pillar, an illustrated history of the monument and its times, will be published by New Island Books in April 2014. He teaches with the Adult Education Department of University College Dublin.
‘Uncanny Tokyo: The Liminality of Murakami’s Urban Landscape.’
Written mainly in the US, Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle presents a new Tokyo that has evolved from Susan Napier’s vision of a dystopian urban future to a more inclusive space for a shared postmodern mood. The Tokyo that Murakami’s protagonists inhabit has been transcreated from a specifically Japanese location, subjected to a science fiction orientalism, to a more transcultural notion of space, familiar across the cultural East/West divide.
Influencing this reinterpretation of the urban space is Murakami’s own relationship with Tokyo, his travel writing and translation work. The eclectic nature of his stories, which tie together many transcontinental fragments, brings to mind Lyotard’s claim that “Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: you listen to reggae; you watch a western; you eat McDonald’s at midday and local cuisine at night; you wear Paris perfume in Tokyo and dress retro in Hong Kong; knowledge is the stuff of TV game shows” (Lyotard 2003).
In this paper, I will show how Murakami’s negotiates this interrelationship between the East and West in his representation of Toyko in his novels, offering us a new exchange and transcultural space in which to locate the postmodern mood.
Deirdre Flynn: I have just successfully defended my Thesis entitled ‘Haruki Murakami’s Postmodern Condition: Locating the Postmodern in the translated novel’ focuses on the novels of Haruki Murakami, exploring how his work echoes and transforms contemporary notions of postmodernism. A former Newspaper Deputy Editor, my research interests include Postmodernism, Contemporary Literature and of course, Haruki Murakami. I have BA in English Literature and Media and Communications and a MA in Modern English Literature.
‘Fault Lines: Terra Incognita in the Geographical Imagining of Southern California.’
This paper will draw from a body of original contemporary photography relating to the project ‘Fault Lines’from the doctoral dissertation Terra Incognita: Photography, Seismology and the Imagining of Southern California (2012) (Ph. D. University College Dublin.)[Funded by IRC]. Aimingto be a discussion between words and images, the research investigated discourse of place in the context of seismicity, photography and landscape.
Things being in flux and uncertainty of being able to know a place have become critical in the geographical imagining of Southern California. When Edward Soja wrote that because of Los Angeles’ restlessness and movement it was “never still enough to encompass”it served to reinforce the corollary that, if things are still, they can be ‘encompassed’ – in other words, known. In this sense, movement, then, becomes associated with uncertainty of knowing and when considered in conjunction with Susan Sontag describing photography as a tool in helping “people to take possession of space in which they are insecure” it becomes possible to consider the role which photography has played in this particular place. In this seismically active part of the world, 100’s of earthquakes are taking place on a daily basis and the topography is said to be moving at the same rate which human hairs or fingernails grow – about 5cm per year. The Southern California Earthquake Center confirms that Los Angeles City Hall is now 2.7 metres closer to San Francisco than when it was first built in 1927.Unravelling the dreams of settlers in this unsettled landscape and creating a place of fragmentary views, photography is the cultural thread which wove ‘geographical imaginings’ through this liminal space.
Fiona Hackett is a photographer and researcher. Her PhD, ‘Terra Incognita: Photography, Seismology and The Imagining of Southern California’ was undertaken and awarded at UCD Clinton Institute of American Studies (2012) and funded by the Irish Research Council. Her photographic practice has explored a number of themes such as the boundaries and borders of spaces, manufactured landscapes and human fragility in the contemporary world. She has exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions. Her current research interests and practice broadly fit within the themes of space and place and landscapes in crisis. Amongst other things, she is Associate Lecturer in photography at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
‘Insular Yearning: Life of Pi and Its Liminal Island Space/Place.’
The textual legacy of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) offers a rich tapestry of spatiality. Castaway stories set a range of complex binaries against one another: insular places and oceanic spaces; the unknown island on the horizon and the familiar island home; the anticipated island and the actual island; and so on. These tales are steeped in spatiality. Setting is not secondary to plot but is, instead, significant in its own right. Islands play an enduring role in castaway fiction, and readers have grown to expect their textual presence. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2001) is testament to that expectation: it offers an imagined island in the absence of a “real” one. This paper reads Martel’s novel in the context of the castaway tradition, paying particular attention to the binaries mentioned above. Such analysis gives insight into theories of space, place, and liminality; the application of spatial theories, in turn, increases our understanding of this text.
Life of Pi offers two versions of one storyline. The first—fantastical in nature—features an island of unexpected terror, whilst the second—a more realistic account—sees its castaways anticipate, but never reach, insular shores. The tension between these versions, I argue, constructs an overarching image of the island as a liminal zone. This liminality allows characters to reframe traumatic events.Island territory is represented as both a familiar place and an abstract space; real and unreal; safe and dangerous; and, finally, yearned for and despised. Simultaneously, these aspects are brought into question: the familiarity of place is overturned, the freedom of space is negated, and traditional castaway expectations are undermined. Ultimately, I contend, the reader is left with a liminal island space/place that defies definition.
Britta Hartmann recently submitted her PhD for examination through the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her thesis examines Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and its textual aftermath, and argues that island representations within castaway fiction have remained largely imperial over the last three centuries. She is currently teaching and researching at the University of Vechta, Germany. Britta is pursuing avenues for the publication of her thesis, and is also working on other projects relating to the cultural representations of islands, oceans, and pirates. She is interested in the relationship between humans and their environment, and her research areas include literary studies, screen studies, island studies, ecocriticism, and cultural geography.
‘When the Page is Not a Limit: Spatial Transgressions in Postmodern Picture Books.’
The playful and subversive nature of postmodern picture books redefines the borders of space in children’s literature. In the illustrations of this kind of books new spatial dimensions are introduced: the world between the book as an artifact and its reader and also the world behind the page. There are stories where heroes jump over their fictional place and address directly to the reader. Or authors who decide to intrude to the realm of their narrations and start a conversation with their imaginative characters. And what happens when the book page does not have the power to limit the heroes’ actions? In my paper, I will discuss the spatial transgressions in contemporary postmodern picturebooks. I will briefly explain the postmodern characteristics of the aforementioned books and in particular I will examine their freedom of space, giving examples from the works of David Wiesner, Emily Gravett, Mo Willems and other well-known authors/illustrators.
Lina Iordanaki is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. She completed her first degree in Primary Education and her master’s degree in Literature at Athens University. Her research areas include picturebooks, graphic novels, literacy and poetry for children. For her PhD thesis, she is investigating children’s responses to wordless picturebooks. Apart from her academic interests, she has worked as a teacher for two years and during the last year she was a teaching assistant at the Greek school of Cambridge. Her research is supported by The Foundation of Education and European Culture (IPEP).
‘Creatures Betwixt and Between: Fairies as Liminal Figures and the Construction of New Fairy Spaces in Ireland.’
In this conference paper, I intend to engage with the theme of ‘Spaces Between Places: Landscapes of Liminality’ through a discussion of my current research into the construction of fairy space in modern Ireland. Fairies are constructed in folklore as liminal figures – creatures neither of nor alien to the natural world, encountered at threshold moments of the day or the year, and inhabiting transitional locations between the familiar and the unknown – those ‘spaces between places’. Such spaces abound in the Irish landscape, including hills, forests, burial mounds and rivers, and are reflected in the ancient place names of these areas. Recently, however, there has emerged a trend of constructing new fairy spaces for the purposes of heritage, nationalism or tourism, such as Gillighan’s World in County Sligo, the Irish Fairy Trails at Derrynane and Derryquin, the leprechaun colony at Carlingford and the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin. Using these case studies, I will pose the question as to whether they are liminal spaces, interrupting and fracturing our previous notions of urban and rural, the real and the imaginary, or if, having been created for a discrete economic or political purpose, these new spaces, along with the fairies said to inhabit them, differ too greatly from traditional fairy sites to be considered liminal.
Hannah Irwin is currently a PhD candidate in Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her research interests include Celtic folklore, fairy tales, fan culture, psychogeography and Gothic literature.
‘Performing the Transitory Space: Landscape Gardens as Hybrid Objects.’
18th century English gardens were created as places inverting the norms expected of the interior and the exterior, natural and artificial spaces. They are influenced by a house (the ultimate interior) which structures the orientation of space, and by the outside landscape (the ultimate exterior) which visually merges with the garden. Gardens have special relationship to the notion of their own boundaries – denying their existence visually, while using them to structure visitors’ movement. These gardens are thus both interior and exterior, challenging the norms of social space and creating the landscapes of semiotic uncertainty, both uncanny and enchanting.
Using Juri Lotman’s notion of transitional objects and hybrids characteristic for boundary mechanisms, this paper analyses two 18th century English gardens – Stowe and Rousham – as boundary objects. What is important, and what brings this paper beyond problems already considered in the garden and landscape studies literature, is the double treatment of the notion of a boundary object. In the present analysis the two gardens are not only perceived as the interface engaged in the semiotic play with the inside and the outside, artificial and natural, but also understood as templates for bodily actions: templates which are somatically performed through movement and various bodily behaviours, which – again – are affected by behavioural patterns developed for indoor and outdoor dwelling, by the confusing nature of the play of cultural notions staged in a garden.
Two gardens are treated as systems of relations between: 1. various cultural notions, 2. spatial structure, bodily behaviour and the experience of a stroll. Taking such a perspective, one must assume that Stowe and Rousham are not perceived, but performed.
Katarzyna Kaczmarczyk: My principal research interests lie in the field of semiotics, cognitive semiotics and neuroaesthetics of gardens. The particular topics vary from narrative in gardens through perception of space to gardens as metatexts of culture. This last point links my research with problems of landscape ideology and gardens as artistic interpretation of interrelations of nature and culture. What interests me the most is experience of gardens (or broadly speaking: a work of art) treated as an outcome of interaction between our neuropsychological make-up and a semiotic system of a work of art constituting a fragment of a wider discoursive realm of culture. In my M.A. thesis I proposed a semiotic model of perception of gardens using tools of cognitive and tensive semiotics and in my PhD dissertation I intend to concentrate on XVIII century landscape gardens and the development of aesthetic experience of gardens and landscape from emblematic understanding at the beginning of XVIII century to auto-communicational one at the end.
‘Letters of Liminality: Print and Cyber Texts as Spaces of Transgressive Desire.’
This paper will explore print and virtual letters as liminal spaces that enable fantastic textual romances in which people become the protagonists of their own fabulation, and where the material reality of sexuality is contested. By focusing on Thomas Hardy’s short story ‘On the Western Circuit’, it aims to draw links between the 18th-century secretive sexuality triggered by letter writing, the late 19th-century anxieties of autarkic pleasure, and finally the 21st-century forms of cybersexuality. In his effort to explore alternative spaces for sexual expression, spaces beyond the convenient and conventional heterosexual marriage or the competitive evolutionary arena that Darwin proposed, Hardy reinvents the textual space of the lovers’ letters in ways that surprisingly prepare us for 21st-century virtual encounters. Although it begins with the actual seduction of a country maid, Anna, by a London barrister, Charles Raye, its focus shifts to the textual seduction of Anna’s mistress, Edith, as desire is caught up in the chains of language and passion is located in the brain. Absorbed in the secretive process of letter writing and reading, Edith Harnham carries on the long tradition of private reading initiated in the 18th century that supposedly paved the way to solitary vice. She surrenders fully to the pleasures of her imagination and dangerously confuses reality with fantasy. This mix-up between real and textual space and the constructedness of Charles and Edith’s romance anticipate the new erotics of the internet. Like a modern user of digital technology involved in a cybersexual relationship, Edith transgresses traditional concepts of her body’s physical boundaries and surrenders to the seductiveness of sex with nobody in no-place. Hardy’s print letters, like cyber-communication, construct a space where sexuality coincides with late-20th-century views of it as ‘a conglomeration of elements’; what Elizabeth Grosz has termed ‘wishes, hopes, desires, sensations, attitudes, which have historically been attributed a status as a unified, even natural, entity’.
Katerina Kitsi-Mitakou is Associate Professor in English Literature in the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She has been teaching and publishing on Realism, Modernism, and the English novel, as well as on feminist and body theory. She has contributed to the Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe in the volumes on Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. She has also co-edited two special journal issues, “Wrestling Bodies” (Gramma 11, 2003) and “Experiments in/of Realism” (Synthesis 2, 2011), and three collections of essays: The Flesh Made Text Made Flesh: Cultural and Theoretical Returns to the Body (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), The Future of Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and Bodies, Theories, Cultures in the Post-Millennial Era (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2009).
‘Interpreting Between Privacies: Place and Space in Brian Friel’s Translations.’
According to Vimala Herman’s theory, to view theatrical space as a continuum rather than a binary on-stage/off-stage construct redefines the dramatic space which constitutes the fictional play-world as an aspect of theatrical space – that which is “presupposed by a play and which is realised anew by each performance within the bounds of its unique space-time structure” (Herman 270). On-stage space and off-stage space become, respectively, the theatrical space within and the theatrical space without; both “belong to the same universe and form a continuum” (Herman 270). A continuum of theatrical space is, therefore, the overall stage event, which includes the audience, and which forms the deictic context of the play. What is most significant in Herman’s reading, however, is that, given that there is no longer a verbal/visual divide in place when considering theatrical space, “the primary point of reference for deictic referencing” (Herman 273) is the corporeal speaker who gives voice to a dramatic text and thereby brings the continuum of theatrical space into being.
With this in mind, what this paper aims to do is to consider the way in which Friel explores the relationship between place and space in his play Translations through an interrogation of the power of the acting body – or rather a body capable of producing meaningful sound – to transform place into space and vice versa. Concentrating in particular on the relationship between Maire and Yolland, the paper will assert that to view Translations as that which takes place within a continuum of theatrical space is to reveal it as a play in which power exists in the liminal, transformative, mediatory zone between place and space; as a play in which to misunderstand or to be misunderstood is to jeopardise realities.
Zosia Kuczyńska is a third-year PhD student at TCD, where her research on Brian Friel and the continuum of theatrical spatio‐temporality moves ever closer to becoming a doctoral thesis.
‘Fate of Place in Three Dublin Neighbourhoods.’
The paper presents work made by the Film Artist Joe Lee in three city areas of Dublin in the last fifteen years. This work involves telling the stories of place as experienced by people from these areas. The paper will reveal the range of approaches employed to create these narratives that focus their attention on shared patterns of communal experience as opposed to highlighting individual stories.
Descriptions of context and excerpts from film works will include: The troubled history of St Michael’s Estate and Inchicore in the film ‘Dreams in the Dark’ and the video installation ‘Dark Room’ which deals with the wounded history of drug abuse in the area. The self explanatory title ‘Inside Out Outside In Stories from O’Devaney Gardens and ‘Sketch’ a short drama made with and by local youth from the Most Youth Project. Finally ‘Bananas on the Breadboard’ about the story of women street traders from the North West Inner City and their struggles with the city council and the impact of redevelopment on their area.
In both O Devaney Garden’s and St Michaels Estate Lee has continued to document the processes of change which have seen the collapse of the Public Private Partnerships which were the vehicle of delivery for regeneration projects. He will present excerpts from new works in progress that explores the impact of these failures on the areas in question and the current context of an apparent vacuum in public housing policy.
In the three areas depicted here, place has played both a positive and negative role in the question of identity but in all three cases, place has had a substantial role in the formation of individual and communal sense of identity.
This paper asks is that relationship between place and identity beginning to break down under the influence of three factors: changes or a vacuum in public housing policy, the collapse of five public private partnerships in public housing regeneration projects in Dublin and the development and pace of change in relation to the individuals relationship to social media and the internet.
Joe Lee a native Dubliner graduated from the National College of Art and Design in the early 1980s. He has worked as an independent film and video maker since then directing film and television drama and documentary in a range of art and production contexts. From the 1990s his work extended to include a series of video documentation/archive projects with Irish National Cultural Institutions. He directed the public art project Out of Place in St Michael’s Estate Inchicore 1999 to 2003 He has curated ten public art projects for the Arts Office of Sligo County Council under a series title Unravelling Developments 2004 to 2010.
His work includes an extensive range of film/arts projects in Inchicore, O’Devaney Gardens and the North West Inner City Markets Area of Dublin. He has exhibited video artworks and photomontage prints in various exhibitions winning two awards over the years at the Exhibition of Visual Art (EVA) Limerick, most recently for the video installation Dark Room 2003. His video installation work Open Season in the 1997 Once Is Too Much exhibition made with a women’s group from Inchicore is represented in the permanent collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. He also has individual works in a number of private collections.
He was film maker in residence for Dublin City Council in 2009 and launched the popular 52 minute documentary Bananas on the Breadboard about the story of the markets area and street trading in Dublin. His recent work includes projects with; CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign, the Babel DVD project with composer Roger Doyle and Dance Ireland, North Inner City Violence Against Women Action Group, and St Michael’s Estate Regeneration Board.
His latest film project The Area made with choreographer Rionach NiNeill of Ciotog Dance Company and the Machusla Dance Group was launched at the Odeon Cinema Point Village on 30th May 2013 and will be screened in a variety of national and international film festivals in 2014. Beginning with its North American premiere in the Dance on Camera Festival in the Lincoln Centre on Feb 2nd and its European premiere at the Cinedans Festival in Amsterdam on March 16th.
‘Nevill Johnson and the Experience of Architecture in Belfast and Dublin 1934 – 1958.’
Nevill Johnson, the English artist, writer and photographer who lived in Belfast and Dublin from 1934 to 1958, represents one of the forgotten figures of Irish cultural life. The decline of his once formidable reputation into relative obscurity is surprising when we consider the prolific and diverse body of work he produced in both cities, the widespread critical acclaim he received both locally and internationally, his influence on the Irish arts scene and his enthusiastic participation in its various social circles. In his day, Johnson was ranked among artists such as Louis Le Brocquy and Colin Middleton in terms of representing the vanguard of progressive Irish art. As a photographer he documented the decaying grandeur of Georgian Dublin on an unprecedented scale, culminating in the publication of the seminal photographic collection entitled Dublin: The People’s City. As a writer he challenged conventional appraisals of Belfast and Dublin during the period as mere provincial backwaters through his vivid depictions of their maverick cultural communities.
This paper will discuss how Johnson’s representations of space in Belfast and Dublin inform the aspirations, tensions and divisions that defined the relationship between both cities during the period. Using a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach, the paper will draw from his Surrealist and Cubist paintings, photography and writing. Johnson was deeply interested in the philosophy of architecture and the ways in which the architectural style of a city conditions the urban experience of its citizens. With this in mind, the paper will focus primarily on his artistic renderings of the architecture of both cities and how they relate to wider social, cultural and political complexes.
Conor Linnie is an Irish Research Council scholar currently in the second year of his PhD in The School of English, Trinity College Dublin. The subject of his research is the English artist Nevill Johnson and the cultural life of Belfast and Dublin from the mid 1930s to the mid 50s.
‘Virtually Spatialising the Altermodern Everyday.’
This paper proposes that representational painting can be utilised as a methodological tool to examine our relationship with space and place within the realm of online, networked activity.
It draws upon ongoing practice-based doctoral research into the necessary development of the established topic of the everyday in terms of how it can be tied to the concept of altermodernism (Hardt & Negri, Bourriaud). This text works to extend the existing understanding of space and place as generated throughout the important texts by de Certeau, Tuan, and the recent writings of Cresswell. This paper hypothesises that it is possible and indeed useful to consider that the territories we experience virtually are part a complex, emerging facet of space and place.
Our virtual existence occurs in the hyperreal, image-saturated networked arena. The material which makes up the informational realm (Castells, Moores) is given fleeting attention by users as it is connected to functional processes within the contemporary everyday. The experiential processes associated with navigating the network have been examined in terms of the actions of moving between hyperlinks and the ways in which the information gleaned is utilised. However, it may in fact be possible to engage with the actions performed as an Internet user as they click from webpage to webpage, in terms of these essentially involving digital or virtual spaces being rapidly inhabited. This virtual spatialisation may well be brief, but an improved understanding of the online activities is reached one considers the possibility of this spatialisation occurring in what Manuel Castells terms the ‘space of flows’.
This paper offers visual practitioners and theorists a position from which online engagement, need not be considered simply with relation to functional processes occurring in a non-place (Augé). Instead, it indicates that the informational realm can be usefully comprehended as a new place to be understood and made meaningful within the context of the altermodern everyday.
Graham Lister: PhD (Practice-based, ongoing) at the Glasgow School of Art. A practicing visual artist, specialising in painting, Lister has worked as a Visiting Lecturer in the Forum for Critical Inquiry and in the Painting Department at The Glasgow School of Art since 2005. Specialisms and areas of interest include contemporary painting practice and the art of the everyday, particularly with reference to the era or networked communication. Lister’s work has been exhibited widely in the UK over the last 10 years, including solo projects at Project Slogan and Limousine Bull in Aberdeen, a major temporary public art work for Kensington Borough Council and as part of a group exhibition at Gasworks, London. Recent solo projects of note include Virtual Fragments, Charing Cross (2012-13), the Briggait Project Room, Glasgow and Physically Travelling Route 66, Virtually (2012-14), at Project Slogan, Aberdeen. Graham Lister was also the 2012 recipient of the Mackendrick Scholarship for Painting, awarded by the Glasgow School of Art.
‘The Midnight Show: Mimetic Performance and Cinema Space.’
There has long existed a gap between the diegetic space of the film (that is, the “storyworld”) and the space of the cinema. In response to the gap between the storyworld and the physical world, audiences developed ways to overcome this separation, a way to bridge the interstice between the two spaces. This involves audience interaction in the cinema beyond traditional viewing, where audience members engage with the film through “cosplay,” call backs, hazing, and the use of objects. Interaction occurs when audiences or fan bases engage or interact with a particular film through imitation and representation of the film itself, along with the “storyworld” of the film and its construct within particular spaces.
The space for discussion in this paper is the cinema space, analyzing how the audience performs a specific spatial immersion or “mimetic performance” in the area of the theatre. This interaction stems from a particular type of fandom associated with cultural practices and social networks, which in many cases can be described as a subculture of fans devoted to a particular cult film, or to a popular series of films or popular Hollywood blockbusters. My paper proposes a detailed examination of how the cinema space itself is used as a mode of engagement on the part of an audience to express a type of “mimetic performance,” and how this interaction is used to bridge the interstice between the storyworld and the physical world. This will also involve a discussion of several “cult” films in which audiences engage with the space of the cinema in this particular type of immersion: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Showgirls (1995), and The Room (2003).
John Lynskey is a PhD candidate in Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham. He holds an MA in Film Studies from University College Dublin, as well as an MPhil in Literatures of the Americas from Trinity College Dublin. Most recently, he is researching audience interaction and fan participation in cinema through the study of space and mimesis.
‘(Re)-membering the Cape and the Performance of Belonging(s).’
This paper will examine how Cape Town is imagined and performed in the yet to be published play Burn Mukwerekwere Burn (2011) by Blessing Hungwe. The paper draws on Benedict Anderson’s (1991) writings on how the category ‘imagination’ is critical to the analysis of migrant xenophobia. Anderson argues that the word should not be taken to mean ‘false.’ This paper will open up the word for further interrogation and apply the notion of imagination to read how Cape Town is performed on the Zimbabwean stage.
The play addresses notions of national identity and its imbrications with ‘race’. The paper will focus on discourses and practice of the national and negotiating migrant identity in the aftermath of May to October 2008 nationwide violence against foreign migrants in South Africa. The paper will examine the relationship between the construction of the identity of places and the construction of belonging. It examines particularly the role of the body in culture, to the study of race and identity to read the meanings the body accrues through mobility. It examines how the playwright revises the notion of ‘home’ so that it becomes capable of both recognizing racial and national differences and moving outside them.
The paper argues that performance embodies in space and at ‘the level of the body…human mobility’ and the meaning attached to bodies in relation to the different spaces they find themselves in (Cresswell, 2010:161). The paper shows that studying cultural productions offers us a complimentary way to engage with mobility as an embodied and practised experience. In Cresswell’s words ‘in the end, it is at the level of the body that human mobility is produced, reproduced and occasionally transformed’ (2010:161).
Pedzisai Maedza is the 2014 Canon Collins Scholar’s Scholar, International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholar Award Recipient and PhD Drama Candidate at the University of Cape Town.
‘Jumanji and the Architecture of Liminality.’
Jumanji is a text that thematically intersects with the concept of liminality in a number of interesting and complex ways. The plot of the 1995 film, like the award-winning picture book upon which it was based, centres on a game: play is depicted as a liminal activity, through which the boundaries of reality and imagination are tested and explored. The titular board game probes the terrifying transition of maturation, while traversing the dichotomy between chaos and order that is so fascinating to children. These universal anxieties are mapped onto architectural space, through the transgression of the interior/exterior boundary. The child’s experience of the home as a heterotopia of paternalistic authority is mirrored in the troubling colonial subtext of the film. The “civilized” space becomes defamilliarised and deconstructed by the “primitive”, as the plantation-style home is destroyed by the primal power of nature. While not explicitly racialised, the problematic othering and orientalisation of the “exotic” landscape is remarkably conservative in its representation, drawing on a long tradition of such western depictions of African “wilderness” as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. This paper will analyse the way in which architectural liminality is used to engage the broader themes of liminality in the text: not only the liminality of childhood and play, but also the concept of the colony as liminal space.
Ruth McLaughlin holds a B.A. International in English Literature from University College Dublin, and an M.Phil. in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at Trinity, examining the intersections between dystopian fiction and architecture. Her research interests include architectural space, psychogeography, human behaviour, language, culture, gender, social chaos, derelict buildings, and the end of the world.
‘In Defence of Traditional Masculinity: Two Househusbands in Mainstream British Television.’
This paper proposes to discuss the liminal space that masculinity currently occupies in Western society due to the fact that the role of fathers in many families has changed dramatically in the last ten years. It will focus on the situation in Britain where, similarly to Ireland, there has been a huge increase in the number of stay-at-home fathers or househusbands, particularly in the five years since the beginning of the worldwide economic downturn. Masculinity is currently negotiating the transition from the narrow definitions of the past to an altogether less inhibiting reconstitution as it confronts the challenges of modern family life.
This paper will examine how the transition is potentially being undermined in Britain by the failure of mainstream British television to offer a sympathetic, nuanced and realistic portrayal of the modern phenomenon of the househusband. In doing so, it will consider two high-profile television series that debuted in 2013, Jason Byrne’s BBC One sitcom Father Figure and ITV’s hugely popular murder mystery Broadchurch. In the characters of Father Figure’s Tom Whyte and Broadchurch’s Joe Miller, househusbands are ridiculed and demonised respectively.
Tom Whyte is a hapless Irishman living in England whose well-intentioned efforts at being an exemplary househusband are constantly thwarted not only by his own stupidity and by Father Figure’s insistence that Tom is engaging in “woman’s work.” Meanwhile, much more sinister correlations are drawn in Broadchurch as becoming a househusband offers nice guy Joe Miller an outlet for the discovery of his paedophilic tendencies. After illustrating how the characterisation of both men represents in different ways a defence of traditional ideas of masculinity, this paper will conclude by asking if this reflects a reluctance in Western society to make the transition to a new definition of masculinity.
Brian McManus: In the summer of 2013, Brian completed the MPhil in Children’s Literature with the School of English in Trinity College, writing on English-language translations of classic Irish-language children’s texts of the Gaelic revival for his dissertation. He recently began his PhD research on the construction of Irish identity in Irish-American children’s literature under the supervision of Dr Pádraic Whyte. Brian is also working on an essay about Padraig Ó Siochfhradha’s Jimín Mhaire Thaidhg for a collection of essays on Irish-language children’s literature to be published in autumn 2014.
Billy Mag Fhloinn
‘Boundaries and Blood Sacrifice.’
This paper seeks to explore the themes of boundaries, both physical and temporal, in traditional Irish calendar custom. The once-widespread practice of ritually sacrificing fowl or other animals on St. Martin’s Day lasted until the early 21st century in some rural parts of Ireland, and it appears that one of its primary functions was to delineate and maintain protective space around the homestead. Blood of the killed animal was shed on the threshold of the house at sunset on the eve of the saint’s feast, in order to keep out death and evil spirits. The doorstep functioned as a literal threshold between these two spaces, and so was the focal point for ceremony and folk magic. It was also customary to spill the sacrificial blood in the four corners of the house, in order to protect those within. Through the ritual act, the safe inner space of the domestic dwelling was re-established, in contrast to the outer world that could contain death, danger and malign supernatural influence. This action took place on the Feast of St. Martin, which, falling on November 11, marked the end point of the herdsman’s annual cycle. On the other end of the calendar, we also have ritual activities occurring on the first of May, the ancient festival of Bealtaine. This marked the beginning of the grazing season, and also had attendant activities that marked boundaries and reinforced notions of space. The outer limits of the farm would be walked, and people would bless the boundaries with water from a holy well. It was also customary at this time for people to mark the four corners of the house with talismans, such as shells or holy water, yet again maintaining the domestic space as protected and safe. These two festivals mark the main crossing points of the ritual year, and are temporal analogues of physical thresholds. Time and space are conceived in a gestalt sense, being inherently intertwined in the folk consciousness.
Billy Mag Fhloinn is a lecturer in Irish studies in the University of Limerick and in Mary Immaculate College. He holds B.A. in Archaeology and Folklore, and a Ph.D. in Folkloristics. His doctoral thesis was on the cult of St. Martin in Ireland, and the rituals, customs and narratives associated with that feast-day.
‘From Space of Exile to Place of Identification: Literary Representations of Diyarbakır City in Kurdish Contemporary Literature.’
The spatial project of Turkish Republic, since its foundation (1923), has been very effective in attaching to urban/natural landscapes a strong nationalist narrative. Symbols and rituals were to signify the mono-ethnic, mono-linguistic Turkish nationalism to a population largely multicultural and multi-religious. In the urban environment, this brought to the creation of what scholars call “Kemalist city”, after the name of the founder of the State, Mustafa Kemal (Houston, 2005). Kurds, the country’s largest minority, found themselves in a cultural exile in cities that constantly stated their cultural and linguistic inferiority.
Traditionally Kurdish culture made of wilderness its place of identification: mountains were seen as the custodians of the ‘pure’ identity, whereas the city was seen as a place of corruption and assimilation. Processes of massive urbanisation implemented by Turkish military (1984-1999) to control the Kurdish armed resistance, pushed Kurdish intellectuals and artists to elaborate a new urban configuration of Kurdish culture.
As the Kurdish/Turkish conflict switches from the armed fight to a peace negotiation process, the cultural struggle for the symbolic re-appropriation of space and the definition of places progressively acquires relevance. In particular, the city of Diyarbakır (the unofficial capital of Kurdistan) seems to be in the middle of a dispute for an ethno-cultural re-definition. Having been stage to the grimmest phases of Kurdish/Turkish conflict, and now stage of the most significant steps in the process of conflict resolution, Diyarbakır has become a metonym for Kurdish political will and has acquired symbolical value for Kurds around the world.
In this paper, I will look at the ways in which Kurdish contemporary literature contributed in articulating a sense of strangeness/familiarity with the urban environment and how poetry and fiction helped the Kurds in defining Diyarbakır as a symbol of belonging rather than, as previously, a space of cultural exile.
Francesco Marilungo is currently in the second year of a PhD research, about the cultural definition of the city of Diyarbakır (Turkey/Northern Kurdistan), at the University of Exeter, IAIS (Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies). His research is based on the geocritical approach and uses recent theories of space and place. He graduated in Italian Literature at University of Rome “La Sapienza” and subsequently spent more three years in Turkey and Kurdistan working as teacher and translator.
‘Space, Territory, and Borders: Liminality in Contemporary Israeli Literature.’
Spaces and borders have been an issue since the early days of Zionism, when the principle of territorial sovereignty on the Land of Israel played an important role. After the 1948 war, Israel applied and employed rhetorical and institutional mechanisms that generated commitment to guarding the border and to tightening the bonds with the land.
The Six Day War in 1967 introduced a new concept – the Green Line – which is the border line between the State of Israel and the Occupied Territories. A border presumably signifies the separation between the “here” and the “there,” between “my country” and a foreign country. And yet, in the context of the Occupied Territories, the borders become blurred, creating a twilight zone, a liminal region, which is simultaneously internal and external, apparently temporary but in fact permanent.
Following the wake of the first Intifada in the late 1980’s, which brought this twilight zone into the attention of the wider Israeli society in a traumatic and tangible way, Hebrew literature became engaged with the question of borders and identity. In Hebrew literary works from the 1990’a to the 2000’s whether focusing principally on Israeli soldiers’ experiences across the Green Line, or exploring Israeli society itself, the theme of space is tied to the concept of borders. In many of these works, the border implies a transition from one moral and psychological existence to another, creating a physical, psychological, and moral rift.
In my presentation I analyze the works of David Grossman, Orly Castel-Bloom, Itzhak Ben-Ner, and Michal Govrin to demonstrate their poetic presentation of space and liminality, and show their concept of borders and sovereignty.
Adia Mendelson-Maoz is a senior faculty member in Literature and Culture, Head of Hebrew Literature Section at the Department of Literature, Language and Arts, and a faculty member in the MA program in Cultural Studies at the Open University of Israel. Her research deals with Hebrew Literature as it intersects ethics, politics, and culture. She has taught in, served as academic supervisor of, and developed a number of undergraduate and graduate level courses on Hebrew literature of the Twentieth Century and on multiculturalism in Israel. Dr. Mendelson-Maoz has published numerous articles in books and journals, among them Social Jewish Studies, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Shofar and Israel Studies Review. Her latest book Multiculturalism in Israel – Literary Perspectives is forthcoming by Purdue University Press, 2014. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘The Theatre is a Machine for Making Place from Space.’
Space in the theatre is not (purely) an abstract concept, nor is it (purely) a question of represented space (to borrow Lefebvre’s terms); theatre takes place in real spaces, which it transforms through performance. This paper will suggest some of the mechanisms by which theatre produces space, in ways that can lead us to a new understanding of the question of audience identification, and hence to the ethics of performance.
Chris Morash’s most recent book (written with Shaun Richards) is Mapping Irish Theatre: Theories of Space and Place (Cambridge, 2013). He has also written A History of Irish Theatre, 1601-2000, (Cambridge, 2002), A History of the Media in Ireland (Cambridge, 2008), and Writing the Irish Famine (Oxford, 1995). He is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre with Nicholas Grene. He is Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing in TCD, and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.
‘Urban Space and Victorian/Edwardian British Socialist Fiction.’
In ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’, Martin Heidegger considers the location of the human in space: ‘We do not dwell because we have built, but we build and have built because we dwell.’ For Heidegger dwelling, safety and peace is necessarily founded on rootedness in space. On the other hand, Henri Lefebvre reads the static, concrete, material planting of space as visible evidence of political power; what he calls ‘dominated space’. Lefebvre points to ‘military architecture, fortifications and ramparts, dams and irrigation systems’ as evidence of dominated space but factories, slums, workhouses and public parks in the Victorian cities can also be read as the material manifestation of capitalist space. Dominated space is subject to the pressure and encroachment of appropriated space which, although ‘utterly subjugated’, is mobile, irrepressible and ‘subject to the rhythms of time and life.’
This paper will consider the position of the unemployed – sometimes homeless – worker in three British socialist novels of the late-Victorian/Edwardian period: Margaret Harkness, Out of Work (1888); H. J. Bramsbury, A Working Class Tragedy (1888-89); and Charles Allen Clarke, The Red Flag (1907-08). All three novels present the imposed rootlessness of the worker subject to unemployment: employment and permanent domestic dwelling grounds those in work; the unemployed are constantly moving through space, ‘tramping’ to find work, living in temporary accommodation, sheltering in the workhouse but prevented from returning within a set time. But for the socialist authors this alienation from capitalist dominated space does not produce an underclass of atomised individuals moving through the city. Rather, the movement through the city creates spaces of congregation – homeless sleepers in Trafalgar Square and the London Embankment, crowds of workers jostling for employment and the London Docks, the queues and communal living at the workhouse – which can be read as spaces of appropriation and ideological change where rootlessness becomes revolutionary.
Deborah Mutch is a Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester. She has published widely on the fiction produced by the British socialist movement between 1880 and 1914. Her most recent publication is a major works collection of fiction published in the socialist press, British Socialist Fiction, 1884-1914 (Pickering & Chatto, 2013).
‘I Know How Gods Begin: Examining the Hidden Other World in the Works of Neil Gaiman.’
Neil Gaiman’s ability to weave fantasy, fairytales, folktales, mythology, canonical literature, and Gothic horror into his creative medium has played a significant role in elevating not only modern fantasy, but also graphic literature as a subject for scholarly discourses. For example: The Sandman series is often recognized as Gaiman’s most influential contribution to graphic literature. As an epic series, spanning seventy-five issues from 1989 to 1996, The Sandman tales centre on the figure of Dream/Morpheus, the personification of the unconscious, ruler of dreams and nightmares, and all that is kept hidden from waking consciousness.
The blending of mythology and contemporary culture is a central motif of Gaiman’s work, with its emphasis on humanity’s need/desire to create a mythology and the use of a secondary world to accommodate what Campbell calls ‘the hero’s quest”. In Gaiman’s writing; travel into the secondary world becomes a travel inwards into the mind, where the fantastical inhabitants mirror the working of the protagonist’s psyche. In overcoming the spirit world during the course of his adventure, the hero will uncover the necessary weapons and skills to complete his quest, overcome the darkness and return home with the skills he needs to live his life. Almost embodying the psychological fascination and use of the Gothic tradition, which exists within western culture.
This paper will discuss Gaiman’s use of secondary worlds not only as a part of the hero’s journey, but also as a place created by humanity’s desire for meaning, of exploring the unconscious in a cathartic and symbolic way, ultimately learning to incorporate it into everyday life.
Chris O’Connor graduated with a BA in English and History in 2012 and is currently studying for his MA in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin in 2012, his undergrad Dissertation was on the use of mythology in modern literature, specifically Neil Gaiman.
‘Ghost Stations: Berlin Railways as Memory Spaces in post-1989 English-Language Fiction.’
In this paper I investigate the relationship between space and memory in post-1989 English-language fictional representations of Berlin’s railways. Guided by Andreas Huyssen’s analysis of Berlin as comprised of voids and palimpsests, I explore how station architecture and the experience of rail travel in the city are configured in Berlin thrillers and novels. In particular, I discuss images of Cold War ‘ghost stations’ as a manifestation of the continuing contemporary resonance of the city’s past.
In Berlin fiction set in the twenty-first century, visitors using the rail network range in their responses from innocent exhilaration in Anna Winger’s The Must Be the Case (2008) to perception of the underground as a space harbouring Nazi ghosts in Chloe Aridjis’s Book of Clouds (2009). Elevated and underground, railways in Berlin form a palimpsest that is both literal and a metaphorical representation of the city’s memory. In the English-language thriller, a configuration of the 1930s Berlin station as glass cathedral in Philip Kerr’s 1930s novel, The Pale Criminal (1990), contrasts with Friedrichstrasse as armed checkpoint in Len Deighton’s Faith (1994).
Disused Cold War ‘ghost stations’ represent a liminal spatial and temporal domain in different genres of English-language Berlin fiction, such as Hugo Hamilton’s The Love Test (1995) and Raelynn Hillhouse’s thriller, Rift Zone (2004). In Aridjis’s Book of Clouds, their reopening in 1989 shows how space can preserve time: the platforms are museum-like, trapped in the moment of their 1961 closure. Reality and symbol, void and palimpsest, site of arrest and flow, city railways in Berlin emerge as intrinsic to the experience of outsiders and to the city’s self-perception and memory.
Paul O’Hanrahan specialises in the interpretation of the city through literature with particular interests in James Joyce, Dublin and Berlin. As an actor and director, he has performed his own award-winning adaptations of the works of Joyce in theatres around the world and, for the last twenty-six years, on the streets of Dublin on Bloomsday. His academic research into the role played by literature in shaping the city began with an MA, ‘The Representation of the City in the Works of James Joyce’, from the University of York (2000). As a doctoral student, in 2011 he completed a DAAD-sponsored residency in Berlin. In 2014, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Liverpool for a thesis on the perception of Berlin in English-language fiction after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Entitled ‘Berlin in English-language Fiction, 1989-2009: Spatial Representation and the Dynamics of Memory’, it identifies how external perspectives are particularly attuned to the appreciation of memory in liminal urban spaces.
‘Artists and Immigrants: The Surreal Landscapes of Shaun Tan and Einar Turkowski.’
In an essay on the making of The Arrival, Shaun Tan compares the often disorientating experience of immigrants in a new country to the creative process of artistic creation: “The experience of many immigrants actually draws an interesting parallel with the creative and critical way of looking I try to follow as an artist. There is a similar kind of search for meaning, sense and identity in an environment that can be alternately transparent and opaque, sensible and confounding, but always open to re-assessment.” Surreal landscapes and equally surreal urban environments play a central role in the work of picture book artists like Shaun Tan and Einar Turkowski. In this paper, I aim to explore how the depiction of landscape and environment reflects the mind of the immigrant and the artist and at the same time provides a catalyst for the release of creative imagination that unites both experiences. I shall be looking in particular at Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival, which tells the story of an immigrant’s journey in a strange land, and Einar Turkowski’s picture book Der Rauhe Berg, which narrates a man’s daunting travels through an alien landscape inhabited by strange creatures at the centre of which he decides to climb an intimidating mountain. Both narratives are about journeys in space as much as they are about journeys into the mind. Above all, both picture book and graphic novel are essentially about the same thing: the release of creativity that is experienced by both protagonists when confronted with a foreign and initially unreadable environment. As such, they are also narratives about acquiring visual literacy while at the same time encouraging the reader to do likewise.
Melanie Otto is lecturer in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, where she teaches and researches in the areas of postcolonial literatures and literatures of the Americas. She has published articles and book chapters on Caribbean, Canadian, and New Zealand literature, Mexican art, as well as a monograph on Kamau Brathwaite.
‘Chaos Reigns: Female Rage and the Forest in Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist.’
‘What do you think is supposed to happen in the woods?’ – He, Antichrist
Suzanne L. Roberts argues that we have a tendency to view ordered Nature as male, and the chaotic, disordered wilderness as female. I examine this contention in light of Lars Von Trier’s famously controversial Antichrist (2009) – a film set predominantly in a dark, wild, and uninviting forest. These woods are integral to the film and qualify as one of Yi-fu Tuan’s infamous ‘landscapes of fear’. They serve as a frightening and liminal space. Away from the comfort of civilisation – of place – the forest is a timeless setting that threatens the stability of boundaries, both physical and psychological. This paper sets out to examine the ways in which Von Trier’s forest in particular plays with ideas of unnerving liminality. Notions of gender and identity are rendered frighteningly fluid, whilst the landscape itself is ‘haunted’ by our various historical and mythical associations. Set in Washington State, but filmed in the Black Forest of Germany, I examine the contexts of both the American and European forest, with particular attention to the New World and ideas of a ‘perverted Eden’, and to the European fairy tale. As with the Deep Dark Woods of these stories, Von Trier’s forest is a site of trial and punishment and is aligned, I argue, with a specifically female rage. This gendered wilderness possesses and punishes both man and woman alike, and I examine the significantly different ways in which this is enacted. I highlight too the environmental issues that lie behind landscapes of fear, placing my argument in the context of the ecoGothic. We are confronted with chaos and taught to fear a vengeful Mother Nature; in an age of environmental crisis she has now not only abandoned her avaricious children, but has turned actively, and bloodily, against them.
Elizabeth Parker attained her BA in English Literature from Royal Holloway, University of London. She completed her M Phil in Popular Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. She is an Irish Research Council scholar and is currently writing her PhD at Trinity, under the supervision of Dr Bernice Murphy, on Forests and the ecoGothic.
‘Between Spaces: Feminism and the Post-Secular.’
This paper takes as its point of departure Rosi Braidotti’s work ‘In Spite of the Times: The Post-secular turn in Feminism’ and her further comments on post-secularism in her most recent publication The Posthuman (2013). Whilst accepting the points made by Braidotti on what she terms the ‘post-secular’ turn, I wish to expand her parameters and definition. In order to do so I will return to the work of Cervantes and his seminal work Don Quixote. Here I wish to focus on Harold Bloom’s definition of Sancho Panza as post-pragmatic and argue that it is a version of the post-secular. I will also consider this in line with Kafka’s interpretation of Don Quixote in his short story ‘The Truth about Sancho Panza’ (1941).
This paper will attempt to expand such a definition into contemporary posthuman, feminist space(s). Here the tensions, contradictions and possibilities of the post-secular will be explored. Not as a negative turn but instead as a post-pragmatic, quixotic, rhizomic, nomadic move, creating new and inventive, imaginative and errant spaces. This paper will also touch upon the creation of new and sacred spaces in light of the work of Mircea Eliade and Georgio Agamben and the more recent work of Daniel Colucciello Barber on Deleuze and The Naming of God: Postsecularism and the Future of Immanence (2014), thus proffering new intersectional spaces for feminist production and resistance. Furthermore, I will consider how women writers and artists have always engaged in post-secular folding which both resists and critiques an entirely materialist reality.
Maria Parsons is a senior lecturer in English, Media and Cultural Studies in IADT (Institute of Art, Design and Technology), Dun Laoghaire. Her research interests are in gender and philosophy, gothic and horror studies, literature and film.
‘Navigating the Liminal Space of Grief.’
It is often claimed that one’s sense of being in the world is disorientated at the event of loss. In this paper I seek to suggest that people who have been bereaved enter into a liminal space. Describing grief as a liminal space is to suggest that the boundaries that previously provided a secure understanding of the world and sense of self have, following bereavement, become destabilised or permeable. In my doctoral research I am exploring the role of the different places and people that populate the liminal space of grief. Following Tuan (Tuan, 1977, p.6) I am here distinguishing between ‘space’ and ‘place’. A place has a degree of permanence; it is secure and familiar. For example, the cemetery or the mortuary which have been the focus of research into death and landscapes, are physical, sanctioned ‘places’ in which death or grief come to inhabit, whereas ‘space’ has no set boundaries. Grief then is not simply something that comes to inhabit a place or something to be relocated, but is a place people transition into. Thinking of grief as a space of liminality can prevent against seeing grief as an extraordinary experience but rather as a rite of passage in which normative modes of living are suspended. Grief as a liminal space also sets out a social space in which grief is placed in the mundane, everyday aspects of living a life. It is not a phenomenon that exists purely in the psyche but in relation to other people, ideas and institutions. By viewing grief as a liminal space, grief is not taken for granted or presumed to possess a natural or normal process but can be seen to be constructed in different ways, in interaction with and being attached to historically specific contexts and discourses.
Caroline Pearce is a PhD student at the Faculty of Health and Social Care at The Open University. Her doctoral research is entitled: ‘Recovery following bereavement: Navigating the liminal space of grief’ supervised by Dr Carol Komaromy and Dr Sam Murphy. Her research is an ethnographic study of recovery following bereavement, exploring how recovery is interpreted and defined in mental health and bereavement care policy and practice in the UK, with a special focus on the treatment of people with complicated, complex and prolonged grief.
‘Islands in Four Dimensions: Radical Theories of Space and the Ecological Island Poetics of Pacific Northwest Writing.’
‘When I was in Spaceland I heard that your sailors have very similar experiences while they traverse your seas and discern some distant island or coast lying on the horizon. The far-off land may have bays, foreland, angles in and out … yet at a distance, you see … nothing but a grey unbroken line upon the water.’ (Abbott, Flatland)
In Edwin A. Abbott’s scientific romance Flatland (1884), the narrator – a square – muses on the perception of space in two-dimensional Flatland by comparing it to beholding an island from afar. Yet despite their perceptual reduction to one or two dimensions, islands cannot be thought without the third. Both surrounded by and rising out of water, islands inevitably give rise to questions of height as well as horizontal extension. Starting from the premise that representing islands entails questions of dimensionality, this paper will examine the complex spatiality of Pacific Northwest island texts such as M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time (1961). Blanchet’s reminiscences of a series of summers in the channels and islands around Vancouver Island invoke the radical speculations about the fourth dimension by writers and mathematicians such as Abbott, Charles Howard Hinton or Maurice Maeterlinck in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Curve of Time and other texts employ the island to express a complex ecological and geological consciousness. Focusing on the liminal space of the island’s shore as an indeterminate and fluctuating zone, they destabilise the very insularity of the island, situating it within a larger system of spatio-temporal continuities. The fuzzy border of the island functions as an edge in the sense of Edward S. Casey, “a provisional structure that makes something else possible.” Often treating time as another dimension of space, these texts challenge what Kathleen Dean Moore regards as the insular bias of Western philosophy. These texts not only draw on Native American perceptions of space and place and the transcendentalism of Henry David Thoreau, but fuse these with a radical re-evaluation of space. The aim of this paper is thus twofold: first, to demonstrate the way these texts dismantle older notions of insularity to decentre human subjectivity. And second, to examine the connections between this ecological consciousness and the above-mentioned theories of space, whose profound influence on the recent rethinking of space in the humanities has been largely unrecognised. As such, the island becomes a zone for the exploration of what is radically unknowable about space itself.
Johannes Riquet is a lecturer and research assistant at the English Department of the University of Zurich. He is also the coordinator of the Doctoral Program in English and American Literary Studies. He graduated from the University of Zurich in English, Film Studies and Geography in April 2009 and is currently completing his doctoral dissertation on island fictions in British and American culture, supervised by Prof. Elisabeth Bronfen.
‘Borderline Genre: The Fantastic/Gothic and/as Liminality.’
The endeavours of various scholars have contributed to conceiving the occult irritation by the Fantastic as a productive challenge for literary and cultural theory
1. as a visualisation or literalisation of rhetoric;
2. as a staging of liminality or as the liminality of representation.
With regard to the second point, and in connection with my book Am Rande(2004) and an article from 2010, I would like to present, specify and further develop the hypotheses introduced in those studies regarding the “marginality” the Fantastic, including further research literature. In this enterprise I will attempt a compromise – albeit not unproblematic, though in my opinion, necessary – between positions in (Literary) Anthropology, Constructivism and Post/Structuralism for a conceptualisation of the Fantastic, which is much indebted to the works of Jacques Derrida, Victor Turner, and Hans Richard Brittnacher.
Clemens Ruthner is Assistant Professor of German and European Studies at Trinity College and Director of Research of its School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies. His research fields include Austrian and German literatures and cultures (19th-20th c.), Central European Studies, constructions of Otherness (ethnicity, gender, the fantastic, monstrosity, vampirism, and literary & cultural theory (liminality; cultural economy). His latest publications are the edited volumes Contested Passions. Sexuality, Eroticism and Gender in Austrian Literature and Culture (New York: P. Lang, 2011), Die Lust an der Kultur/Theorie (Vienna, Berlin: Turia + Kant, 2012) and WechselWirkungen: Austria-Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Western Balkans, 1878-1918 (forthcoming: New York: P. Lang, 2013).
‘Every door might be Death’s Door: Charles Dickens, G.A. Walker, and the Victorian Cemetery.’
In his 1839 text, Gatherings from Graveyards, George Alfred Walker calls for the “ENTIRE REMOVAL OF THE DEAD FROM THE IMMEDIATE PROXIMITY OF THE LIVING” (11). He then proceeds to document in gruesome detail the state of London’s numerous burying grounds. Frequently, the living and the dead practically cohabitate, as illustrated in Walker’s depiction of the burying ground in Portugal Street: “The effluvia from this ground, at certain periods, are so offensive, that persons living in the back of Clement’s Lane are compelled to keep their windows closed; the walls even of the ground which adjoins the yards of those houses, are frequently seen reeking with fluid, which diffuses a most offensive smell. Who can wonder, then, that fever is here so prevalent and so triumphant?” (152). In this passage and numerous others, Walker emphasizes the vulnerability and permeability of the domestic realm. While Walker is obviously concerned with sanitary issues, he is equally concerned what he considers the moral failure indicated by England’s inability to prevent the encroachment of the dead upon the living. This paper will use Walker as a point of departure for an examination of Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House. In Bleak House, Dickens repeatedly describes houses metaphorically as tombs, giving spatial representation to Walker’s idea that, in mid-nineteenth-century England, the living and the dead must contend for residential space.
Molly Ryder: I am a postgraduate student at the University of Exeter. My research explores architectural metaphors in Victorian novels – with a focus on labyrinths in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, tombs in Charles Dicken’s Bleak House, and asylums in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. I currently live in Oxford.
‘Space and Place on the Interactive Desert Island.’
For centuries, Anglophone cultural texts have employed the trope of the desert island narrative. This is true of both ‘popular’ and ‘high-brow’artistic production. Bounded (so limited) by an edge that is roughly circular (thus infinite), the desert island contains integral tensions. It is a site of universality and individualism, freedom and imprisonment, and experimentation and self-propagation. The desert island is at once a microcosm of the mainland, an alterity standing in opposition to the mainland, and a liminal space in between the mainland and the Other.
In this paper I will explore how such paradoxes are (or are not) reflected by representations of desert islands in a particularly modern medium: the video game. In particular I will examine how the exploration of desert islands by a ‘player’gives rise to an experience of space and place that is necessarily different to that in a text in which the ‘reader’has less agency. Video game texts I will explore include The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (no date given), Myst (1993), Yoshi’s Island (1995), Far Cry (2004), Far Cry 3 (2012), Dear Esther (2012) and Proteus (2013).
Ideas I intend to consider in this paper are: de Certeau’s conception of space as a practiced place (what does the ‘practice’of place mean when we speak about virtual or digital spaces?); the implications of games’intermediality (what tensions arise from the juxtaposition of different modes of telling?); levels of agency and narrative instability / determinacy; the ‘digital uncanny’; and desert-island games as embodiments of the consumer-capitalist dream of self-creation.
Barney Samson is writing a PhD on the modern cultural history of the Desert Island, working with Marina Warner and Jeffrey Geiger at the University of Essex, UK. He is a member of the Island Poetics Research Project at the University of Zurich. Past research includes an examination of superheroes as sufferers of psychological trauma, and of Foucauldian Heterotopia in the Harry Potter novels. He previously studied Humanities and Cultural Studies at the London Consortium and Music at Girton College, Cambridge. Barney continues to work in music education and as a freelance musician alongside his academic work.
Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
‘From the Slave Garden to the Creole Garden: Topophilia and Diasporic Garden Spaces in Afro-Caribbean Women’s Writing.’
Topophilia is a neoterism coined by Yi-fu Tuan in Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values (1974) which denotes ‘the affective bond between people and place or setting’ (4). This paper argues that in their respective novels Annie John (1983) and Exile according to Julia (2003), Antiguan author Jamaica Kincaid and Guadeloupean writer Gisèle Pineau present topophilic autofictional narratives in which ‘life stories are […] geographically grounded’ (Mortimer: 2007: 2). Correspondingly, Edward Soja contends that life writing has ‘milieux, immediate locales, provocative emplacements which affect thought and action’ (1989: 114). In their texts, Kincaid and Pineau locate the source of topophilic sentiment within the lived, and living, Creole garden space. Their life narratives are thus ‘contextualized in space that is neither passive nor inert, neither neutral nor void. Space, like history, is a shaping force and a social product’ (Mortimer ibid.). Accordingly, this paper explores the transition from the colonial moment of the African slave garden to the current, postcolonial moment of the Creole garden. The African slave garden was a parcel of land, usually near their living quarters, where slaves cultivated their own foodstuffs for consumption. The slave garden therefore represents a creolisation of space on the part of the slaves, and a simultaneously ecological and geographical reassertion of African diasporic presence. Their continued practice of traditional African-derived medicine and religion and their cultivation of associated plants in spite of colonial suppression permitted the slaves to sustain an affiliation to each other and to their ancestral traditions. The modern Creole garden upholds this unifying aspect of slave garden space, as Kincaid and Pineau demonstrate within their novels. Kincaid portrays the Creole garden in the contemporary Caribbean context, while Pineau’s depiction of an Afro-Caribbean family living in metropolitan France indicates that the Creole garden can also be transportable due to the topophilic sense memories of the migrant gardener.
Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado is a third-year PhD student of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, UK, where she also works as a postgraduate instructor in the School of Literature, Languages and Cultures. Dawn’s thesis title is ‘Comparing Contemporary Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean Women’s Fiction: A Study of Works by Jamaica Kincaid and Gisèle Pineau.’ This project features a comparative exploration of the Caribbean diasporic experience for contemporary black women writers within anglophone and francophone contexts. Dawn is a staff member at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies, a member of the Global Environment and Society Academy (GESA) Steering Committee, a founding member of the Postcolonial Studies Reading Group, a member of Caribbean and Latin American Research at Edinburgh (CLARE), a reader for the James Tait Black Literary Prize, and an article editor for Forum postgraduate journal for culture and the arts.
‘The Living Mountain: ‘Being’ and Knowing Space and Place in the Work of Nan Shepherd.’
This paper will discuss the work of the Scottish modernist writer, Nan Shepherd. Her novels and mountaineering memoir, The Living Mountain, are located in the recognisable locales of North Eastern Scotland, yet her landscapes are poised between the topologies of the known and charted and the mysterious: mutable, ever changing, and unknowable. Shepherd explores the dense web of connections made in rural communities between individuals, group and land. Using modernist techniques for representing enactive minds in dialogue with their surroundings, Shepherd was a central figure in the interwar Scottish Literary Renaissance who understood the local significance of contemporary representational experimentation and literary innovation. Her writing explores the meaning of places to those who dwell in them, at the same time as it meditates on the notion of ‘Being’ and the ways in which we orientate ourselves in space and world, prefiguring phenomenological thought and late twentieth century critical understandings of deep ecology. A reading of Shepherd’s work that is attentive to these philosophical and ecocritical approaches will contribute to the conference theme of ‘space and subjectivity’ by considering the psychological context of Shepherd’s writing, as well as exploring the theme of ‘liminality’: specifically, the attraction of the natural world and the limits to human capacities to know space and place.
Samantha Walton:I am a lecturer in English Literature: Writing and the Environment at Bath Spa University. Before starting at BSU in January 2014, I held a Bright Ideas Fellowship at the ESRC Genomics Forum (April 2013), and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh (August – December 2013, IASH). My research concerns the relationship between psychology, literature and, in my most recent work, landscape in interwar Britain. My monograph, Guilty But Insane: Psychology, Law and Selfhood in Golden Age Detective Fiction is forthcoming from OUP.
Dara Downey is a Lecturer in American Literature in the School of English, Drama and Film in University College Dublin. She is the author of American Women’s Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age (forthcoming, Palgrave August 2014), as well as numerous essays on American gothic literature from Charles Brockden Brown and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and Mark Z. Danielewski. She is co-editor (with Jenny McDonnell) of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies and also edits for The Irish Journal of American Studies.
Ian Kinane received an M.Phil in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin, where he has just completed a Ph.D. on the representation of desert island spaces in contemporary Robinsonade fictions. He currently lectures in the School of English and the School of Drama, Film, and Music, Trinity College Dublin. He has published articles on topics varying from Henry Medwall’s Fulgens and Lucres to Tolkien’s The Hobbit. He is also a member of the Island Poetics Research Project, affiliated with the University of Zurich.
Elizabeth Parker attained her BA in English Literature from Royal Holloway, University of London. She completed her M Phil in Popular Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. She is an Irish Research Council scholar and is currently writing her PhD at Trinity, under the supervision of Dr Bernice Murphy, on Forests and the ecoGothic.