By Paula McGrath
Faculty Funding for Irish Studies conference, Ireland in Psychoanalysis 2: Irish Shame, in SUNY-Buffalo, NY.
This conference followed on from Ireland in Psychoanalysis, which resulted in a special issue of “Breac: a digital journal of Irish Studies”. It featured keynotes from Sinéad Gleeson, writer and broadcaster, Claire Bracken (Union College), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary’s College).
As the first presenter, (“Strategies of trauma in A Girl is a Half-formed Thing”), I had no time for nerves, and it was a pleasure to share ideas with my fellow “Eimear McBride” panellists, Megan Crotty (Boston College) and Barry Shiels (Durham). A single-track event meant that participants could attend all panels, and a conversation grew as presentations resonated with each other over the two days.
For this early stage researcher, it was a privilege to listen to so many distinguished speakers. Highlights included Claire Bracken’s keynote, “Monuments of shame: Magdalen Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, and the contemporary imagination”, which wove a narrative around a collage of images, video and texts, and Seán Kennedy’s “Recovering (from) Catholicism?”, a critical-cum-personal exploration of the possibilities, if any, of redemption from within the Catholic Church. Fellow PhD student Sara Martín-Ruiz (University of Zaragoza) gave a fascinating paper on Emma Donoghue’s Room and Direct Provision.
I am grateful to the Faculty of AHSS and conference organisers, Dr Seán Kennedy and Prof. Joseph Valente, for providing the funding which enabled me to attend this conference.
Paula McGrath is a final year PhD student in the School of English, Irish and Communication at UL under the supervision of Dr Tina O’Toole and Prof. Joseph O’Connor. Her doctoral project combines critical and creative research on narrative strategies for the representation of trauma in fiction. She has published two novels, Generation, 2015, and A History of Running Away, 2017, both with John Murrays. She is also a creative writing teacher.