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From pub quizzes to literary panels: Montreal celebrates James Joyce

The city’s annual Bloomsday festival gives the Irish author his due, with a little help from Concordia
June 11, 2014
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By James Gibbons

James Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904: the date of his first rendezvous with his wife.
James Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904: the date of his first rendezvous with his wife-to-be Nora Barnacle.


Bloomsday is on its way, and Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies will be playing a big part in it. The festival’s Montreal incarnation, now in its third year, takes place from June 12 to 16.

“It started as a celebration of the novel Ulysses by James Joyce,” says event manager Kerry McElroy, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia. “But you don’t have to be a Joyce enthusiast to attend.”

Ulysses is set on June 16, 1904, the date of the author’s first rendezvous with his wife-to-be Nora Barnacle. The modernist classic imagines the day-long peregrination of a man called Leopold Bloom.

The earliest recorded Bloomsday celebration took place in 1924; internationally, it has blossomed into a celebration of Irish culture.

Summer reading? Joyce fan Marilyn Monroe with Ulysses, in a photo taken by Eve Arnold in 1955. Summer reading? Joyce fan Marilyn Monroe with Ulysses, in a photo taken by Eve Arnold in 1955.

Montreal’s edition incorporates film and music, as well as literature. The festival was initially organized by McGill University but, McElroy says, it made sense to enlist Concordia as a sponsor. “We have the only Canadian Irish studies school in Canada.”

This year, 17 public activities are scheduled for Bloomsday.

On June 13, Concordia is hosting a series of panel discussions on topics related to Joyce and Irish literature in the Father McEntee Reading Room, H-1001.01 (10th Floor), of the Henry F. Hall (H) Building (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.) from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Emer O’Toole, a professor at the School of Canadian Irish Studies, will deliver a lecture entitled “What is culture for? Thoughts around Bloomsday, Ireland, and the diaspora.” The afternoon programming also features speakers from the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Montréal.

On June 15, Andre Furlani, an associate professor in the Department of English, and Larissa Andrusyshyn (BA 04, MA 09) will be hosting a quiz at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill (1234 Bishop St.) from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

McElroy is looking forward to the festivities. To close the event on June 16, Joyce’s great-grandnephew —  a Montrealer named Christopher Joyce — will discuss his family’s legacy at Paragraphe Bookstore (2220 McGill College Ave.) from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“This year is really special,” McElroy says.


The School of Canadian Irish Studies academic panels take place on June 13 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the
Father McEntee Reading Room, H-1001.01 (10th Floor), of the Henry F. Hall (H) Building (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.) on the Sir George Williams Campus.

See the complete Bloomsday Montreal 2014 schedule, and register for activities.

 



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