An Irish Studies Conference

This conference seeks to open up discussion and reflection on silence in Irish writing from a range of perspectives. Irish writers have attempted to conjure silence to signify intimacy, desire, fulfilment, grief, terror, trauma, boredom, linguistic and cultural loss, being and nothingness. From W. B. Yeats to Samuel Beckett and beyond, silence persists, both as a theme and as a dimension of writing itself. Silence threatens all messages – spoken and written – in their need for pause or interval to make them transmissible. At the same time, all attempts at writing silence may be doomed to fail. The dilemma seems singular in the writing of Beckett, but is by no means confined to him. Twentieth-century fictional works of such writers as James Joyce, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, Elizabeth Bowen, Kate O’Brien, Edna O’Brien, Brian Moore, John McGahern, John Banville, Glenn Patterson, Eoin MacNamee, and Colm Tóibín, confront the question of silence, developing varieties of narrative style through which silence is summoned. Conference paper proposals are invited on these and other Irish authors, from this or earlier centuries.

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