Textualities 2016 was literally on Friday 13th. I had been dreading it since September 2015 when I heard about it being part of the MA – alongside the Wikipedia editing. So even though it was awful to have to drop out of the MA to return to London for a month in January 2016, at least it was a relief not to have to face these technical challenges.
In 2017 the date was less threatening. Friday 10th. But when I heard the date it was seared into my brain as if by a hot iron. Everything in my life became divided into: before the mini-conference and after it. Because I did know that I would survive it. I booked tickets for Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk at the Abbey in Dublin for Saturday 11th. Here are Emilio and Maria (photo: Josephine Fenton) ready to see the play.
When the day came I was no longer nervous. Either I was numb as my nerves could support no more effort or I was as well prepared as I could be and I could do no more. And I knew that my mate Emilio would be coming to support me.
Also it was just so great seeing everyone ready to go. Daniel Lynch in a suit is a sight for sore eyes. And there were some amazingly elegant high heels on display. Donna was in the room and when she is there I always feel calm. Annie and Rebecca had my back on technicalities. They were both so kind and so competent. It would all be cool.
But the morning was all about other people and their work. For me the star of the day and of the week was Ellen Reid. Her activism in support of feminism, and, in particular, Repeal the Eighth is, as I said from my position of chair of her panel, GLORIOUS. She had told me the previous day that she kept bursting into tears. I thought of King Lear ‘And let not women’s weapons, water drops/ Stain my man’s cheeks’. I absolutely do not want Ellen crying, for feminist reasons. ‘You think I’ll weep? No I’ll not weep.’
And, of course, on the day there was no sign of tears. Rather we heard an excellent presentation on Irish women’s protest poetry which linked out to other aspects of marginalisation. I had been impressed by Ellen’s previous blogs and I was particularly struck by the post showcasing this film.
Among others I also loved Rebecca’s presentation on William Godwin and wanted to get into discussion with her about the play Mary Shelley by Helen Edmundson, a work which investigates Mary’s relationship with her father, Willian Godwin. The father does not come out of it very well. Edmundson has done loads of research mainly at the Bodleian Library at Oxford. But I also wanted Rebecca to know about the wide range of letters and papers from the family that are available at http://www.bodley.ox.ac/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/1500-1900/abinger/abinger.html
Actually the whole day was brilliant although perhaps the most exciting research is that which Lena is doing in terms of German business in Ireland. Now that is in the real world!
Siobhán is working on famine roads and I think her thesis will be fascinating. I am looking forward to reading it. I saw an earlier iteration of her presentation last semester in Irish Studies – I was auditing a unit. She has done so much work and her delivery, like Annie Curran’s on John Huston, was authoritative.
So we got through with nothing worse than a bit of a headache. And now I will never be frightened of Friday 13th or Friday 10th or Pecha Kucha ever again.
All that is left to do is write the thesis. Easy Peasy! ???
Edmundson, H. Mary Shelley. London: Nick Hern Books. 2012. Print.
Walsh, E. Ballyturk. London: Nick Hern Books. 2014. Print.