What is Irish-Australian Literature? A Symposium 22 November 2019

Nature of Event: SYMPOSIUM: What is Irish-Australian Literature?

Hosted by the Celtic Club, Melbourne, and organised by the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne and the Gerry Higgins Chair of Irish Studies.

This symposium brings academic experts in Australian literature to present papers and join in discussion on the idea of Irish-Australian literature and to interrogate the category with appropriate theoretical tools. This is a relatively unexplored academic area – while there has been much research done on the social and political history of Irish-Australia, the cultural and literary history lags behind. Yet there is a clear seam in Australian literature, from Frank the Poet, via Joseph Furphy to Tom Kenneally,  Thea Astley and Gerard Windsor, which would (in some cases) arguably seem to merit the designation. Moreover, a strong element in the history of the University of Melbourne is also entwined with an Irish influence, overtly and otherwise, including such figures as the strongly Irish identifying poet Vincent Buckley (1925-88), an active nationalist and a poet who sought to directly intervene in Irish letters.

Questions to be asked may include:

-Can we speak meaningfully of an Irish-Australian literary tradition?

-What specific associations and cultural functions does the Irish imaginary have in Australian letters?

-How does the owning and in many cases disowning and Irish heritage play out in the history of Australian writing?

-To what extent have Irish political ideas and literary life influenced writing in Australia?

– Are there discernible transnational flows of ideas, ideology manifest in Irish-Australian writing?

-How have the construction of nationalism, and critical pushback, been similar and different in Irish and Irish-Australian writing?

-What stakes does regionality play-out in Irish-Australian cultural history?

-How broadly or narrowly might the field of Irish Australian literature be defined? Might it include essayists, critical writing that draws on the matter of Ireland,  memoirists and autobiographers, or children’s literature?

– How does Irish identity or Irish themes impact the work of individual Australian authors?

This symposium aims to bring academic inquiry to an interested wider public in an immediate way and will, we intend, allow for two-way exchanges between academic researcher and members of a community body with a cultural mission.

Confirmed speakers include Ronan McDonald, Ken Gelder, Rachel Weaver, Phillip Mead, Mark Byron, Frances Devlin Glass, Julian Croft, Val Noone, Patrick Buckridge, Kevin Molloy, Jimmy Yan, Maggie Nolan. The programme will be advised when confirmed.

When: 22 November 2019, 8.30am for 9am start, until 6.30pm.

Where: Celtic at Metro,

Bookings:  Essential as capacity of the venue is limited. Go to The Australian Studies Centre The Australian Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne (a more direct link will be posted as soon as available), or email Baylee.