"Eire on the Erie" -- North American James Joyce Conference to be Held June 12-17

Massive effort will highlight Buffalo's cultural heritage via Joycean spectacular

Release Date: November 24, 2008 This content is archived.


Related Multimedia

The only known copy of "Sporting Times," printed in April 1922, proclaims the "Scandal of Ulysses," and a copy of the life-sized statue of James Joyce erected at the writer's gravesite.

Two walking canes belonging to James Joyce, two of his passports and the Swiss identity card issued to him shortly before his death.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Although his work and life are alive and well in Buffalo every year, 2009 will be a very big one for Irish novelist James Joyce and his legion of fans throughout Western New York.

In June, international attention will be focused on Buffalo's Joyce scholars, Irish literature and drama, Joyce's life in Dublin, Trieste, Zurich and Paris, and the extraordinary collection of Joyce's papers, manuscripts, drafts, page proofs and personal belongings, including eyeglasses, canes and family portraits, held in the University at Buffalo Poetry Collection, the largest such collection in the world.

"Eire on the Erie," the North American James Joyce Conference, will be held here for the first time June 12-17, facilitated by a $30,000 grant from the Oshei Foundation and support from UB, the UB Libraries Special Collections and Buffalo State College.

Additional program information will be posted as it becomes available at http://english.buffalo.edu/jamesjoyce/.

The biannual conference is held in cities with a university or college that, like the University at Buffalo, has a special interest in hosting Joyce scholars.

In recent years they have included the University of California, both Berkeley and Irvine; the University of Texas, Austin; Cornell University, and the University of Tulsa. In even-numbered years, an International James Joyce Symposium is held in major European cities.

The Buffalo event will include readings, films, lectures, receptions, a banquet, a library exhibition, a Bloomsday celebration that is open to the public, and guests from here and abroad.

The conference and its offshoots have already involved efforts by more than 20 co-sponsoring or supporting regional institutions working collaboratively for many months to organize what they hope will be a particularly spectacular conference.

The conference will be coordinated with Buffalo's very popular annual Bloomsday celebration, which in 2009 will be in its 12th year. Bloomsday, June 16, celebrates the day in 1904 when James Joyce's masterwork, Ulysses, takes place, where Bloomsday scholars, actors and members of the community present performances and readings from the novel.

Accordingly, the event has two chairs, befitting this collaborative emphasis. They are Mark Shechner, Ph.D., professor of English at UB, and Laurence Shine, lecturer in English at Buffalo State College and organizer of Buffalo's annual Bloomsday celebration.

Shechner and Shine are working closely with UB Librarians Nancy Nuzzo and Michael Basinski, Ph.D., curator of the university's Poetry Collection, and say that in addition to 250 Joyce scholars, they expect between 500 and 800 members of the public to gather downtown for the Buffalo Bloomsday celebration.

Although the program is still in its development stage, Shechner says events will be held primarily in the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Buffalo, with its proximity to restaurants, bars and cafés.

On the evening of June 13, UB's library will host an opening for the Joyce scholars of the exhibition of its Joyce collection in the Anderson Gallery, where it will remain open to the general public through the fall. It will be the largest exhibition of the Buffalo Joyce collection ever mounted. A national tour of the exhibit is being planned for later in the year.

On June 15, the conference will move uptown for a day to the new Burchfield Penney Art Center and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which will host an afternoon reception for the visiting Joyce scholars.

On June 12 and 13, the conference will feature two free public readings by award-winning Irish-born fiction writer Colum McCann, whose novels include "This Side of Brightness," "Dancer" and "Zoli."

The June 12 event, in collaboration with riverrun productions and Gusto at the Gallery, will feature a screening of Gary McKendry's 2004 film "Everything in this Country Must," written by McCann and based on one of his critically acclaimed short stories. McKendry was nominated for an Oscar for the film, and received several international festival awards for his direction.

Shechner says, "This entire effort is designed to demonstrate Buffalo's rich cultural heritage. It will coincide with the Allentown Art Festival, and the visiting scholars will have ample opportunity to meander through the festival, see the Olmsted park system, visit our museums and galleries, see the waterfront, visit our restaurants and bars, and tour our architectural highlights. Walking tours of the city are being planned, as well as a bus trip to Niagara Falls."

The week's events will be linked to courses on or including the work of James Joyce to be taught in the Spring 2009 semester at UB, Buffalo State and Canisius College.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.