Joyce Camp and Going Native

What a week it’s been!  Joyce Camp, as I came to think of my seminar, was rather intense: lectures from 9:30-12:30 (with a break), lunch (sandwiches), seminars in the afternoon from 2:00-4:00, and optional workshops from 4:30-6:00.  I met a bunch of fantastic people (including a number of the leading Joyceans in the known universe), so fantastic, in fact, that I was almost tempted to become a Joycean just for the community.  Almost.  There were people here from all over, including Hong Kong, Iran, Romania, India, and Switzerland in addition to U.S., U.K., and Ireland (of course).  Most of us were post-grads, either working on or about to start our Ph.D., but there were also several grown-up academics, undergrads, and a really fantastic group of high school students from a Chicago suburb whose English teacher brought them.  In the evenings we attended social events that kept me out past my bedtime; I was in danger of turning into a pumpkin once or twice.  It was, overall, a fantastic week that I would recommend to anyone interested in Joyce.  All week long, I had a suspicion that Joyce would find Joyce Camp and the touristy stuff associated with his work absolutely hilarious!  He knew exactly how academia works and famously said, “I have put in so many enigmas and puzzles in [Ulysses] that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.”  He would get a kick out of the Joyceans doing just that.

One thing I learned this week: there’s a critical approach called “genetic” criticism that’s all the rage in Joyce studies, and I couldn’t care less about doing it.  Basically, it’s pouring over manuscripts looking for notes and hints to suggest something about influences and construction of the text.  If that sounds like exciting detective work to you, super.  It sounds tedious and mind numbing to me.  The lectures were interesting enough, though.  And, again, I am certain that Joyce would find this work extremely amusing.

Dublin suits me pretty well; I have an instinctive sense of direction here, navigating my way around like with ease in the familiar areas.  I’ve gotten comfortable with the bus routes, the grocery stores, etc.  But that’s to be expected for an observant person who spends as much time as I have wandering around and getting places.  But, apparently, I look come across as a knowledgeable local; I’ve been asked for directions by strangers on the street on a number of occasions, which is inexplicable to me because I would think that my giant camera holster strapped onto my body would function like a neon light advertising my status as TOURIST.  I feel pretty confident about getting around, though, so maybe that’s what people pick up on.  Or maybe most people get stopped for directions; this is a pretty tourist-filled city, after all.  Either way, it amuses me immensely, and it gratifies me to some degree, because it makes me feel like I’m less of a tourist.  But I’ll tell you about why I don’t want to be a tourist another time.  For now, I’m going to bid you goodnight from Dublin.

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