Deep Diving with Sirens

Nature of Event: Course: Join Joyce experts Bruce Beswick and Frances Devlin-Glass for a day with Sirens, one of the most pivotal and moving chapters of James Joyce’s Ulysses, in which Joyce experiments with musical form in narrative fiction. What does it add to our understanding of Bloom’s humiliation to have him listening to music while his rival for Molly’s affections sets out, late but jauntily, from the Ormond Hotel for his rendezvous with Molly?

WHEN: 10am-4.30pm Saturday 13th March 2021

WHERE: Kathleen Syme Library, 251 Faraday St, Carlton

COST: $90; $80 for students and healthcard holders

Booking: Trybooking: 8 places remaining.

NOTE: Appropriate social distancing arrangements will be in place. If circumstances change and you are not comfortable attending, you will be able to claim a full refund

The chapter invites us to participate in Dublin’s rich musical culture in a pub that is also used for concerts, and where all the barflies have their own party pieces to perform. It is also a profoundly moving chapter because of the emotional challenges the imminent events at 4pm entail for Bloom. How does Bloom keep his failing spirits up? What are we to make of the musical culture of Dubliners?

This chapter alienated the ever-patient Harriet Shaw Weaver and the less patient and opinionated Ezra Pound, his publishers. So, it was a particularly bold and daring venture. Joyce complained to several people that in writing the chapter he lost his lifelong love for music because his technique penetrated the contrivances of music and he understood better how powerfully it manipulated the emotions. Fortunately, it was not a permanent disillusionment. How well does his literary experiment work? 

  • Session 1: Getting Oriented in the Ormond Bar: Who’s who and what’s what in Sirens
  • Lunch.
  • Session 2: Music Hath Charms: The songs sung in the Ormond and Bloom’s response to them
  • Afternoon tea
  • Session 3: Music into Words and Vice Versa: looking at the fugue form and how it informs Joyce’s experiment with music in prose