Shanties and Liverpool’s Cultural History: Gerry Smyth at the Mersey River Festival

Shanties and Liverpool’s Cultural History: Gerry Smyth at the Mersey River Festival

LJMU English's Professor Gerry Smyth participated in Liverpool’s celebrated Mersey River Festival,at the weekend, while also showcasing some of his research on one of the city’s lesser known musical traditions. Along with friends in local group the Rock Light Rollers, Gerry performed a concert of shanties (onboard work songs) associated with Liverpool during its nineteenth-century heyday as one of the great port cities of the world. The concert took place in the Albert Dock aboard a working tall ship called The Kaskelot, out of Bristol. Professor Smyth recently published an essay entitled ‘Shanty Singing and the Irish Atlantic: Identity and Hybridity in the Musical Imagination of Stan Hugill’ in The International Journal of Maritime History, 29.2 (2017), the full text of which may be accessed here.    ...
Read More
A Drink with Brendan Behan

A Drink with Brendan Behan

On Thursday 20 April the Liverpool-Irish Literary Theatre in conjunction with the Liverpool Arts Society will perform a Rehearsed Reading of a new play based on the life and work of Ireland’s very own poète maudit: Brendan Behan. The play was written by Dr Andrew Sherlock (Drama) and Professor Gerry Smyth (English), and it will be read by former students and staff of LJMU. Brendan Behan has long been regarded as a minor figure in modern Irish literary history, although more recently he has come to be regarded as an important postcolonial rejoinder to the 'great' writers from Ireland's modernist heyday. Dr Sherlock and Professor Smyth are founder members of the Liverpool-Irish Literary Theatre which since 2011 has performed seven different pieces in six different countries. This year the company will perform three plays at the Fourth International Flann O'Brien Conference in Salzburg, as well as a six-night run of Professor Smyth's play Nora & Jim (based on an episode in the lives of James Joyce and his partner Nora Barnacle) at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in August. Please contact Professor Smyth...
Read More
Celtic Tiger Blues: Professor Gerry Smyth’s latest book

Celtic Tiger Blues: Professor Gerry Smyth’s latest book

LJMU English's Professor Gerry Smyth's new book, entitled Celtic Tiger Blues: Music and Irish Identity, has been published by Rutledge. It is a collection of essays focusing on Ireland's complex cultural relationship with music of various kinds. It includes material on the art and folk traditions, the work of James Joyce, popular groups such as the Pogues and the Waterboys, and the aesthetics of listening. The book represents the latest stage in a life-long project for Gerry, focusing here on the ways in which music engages with particular aspects of Irish identity. The nature of popular music and the Irish identity it supposedly articulates have both undergone profound change in recent years: the first as a result of technological and wider industrial changes in the organisation and dissemination of music as seen, for example, with digital platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and iTunes. A second factor has been Ireland’s spectacular fall from economic grace after the demise of the "Celtic Tiger", and the...
Read More
Marginal Irish Modernisms: International Conference at LJMU English 8-9 September 2016

Marginal Irish Modernisms: International Conference at LJMU English 8-9 September 2016

On Thursday 8th and Friday 9th September 2016 the Department of English at LJMU will host an international conference on the subject of Marginal Irish Modernisms. The conference will focus on reconsidering the meaning and scope of Irish modernism throughout the twentieth century and down to the present. The keynote speakers are Professor Joseph Bristow of the University of California who will be talking about Oscar Wilde Sir Roger Casement, and Dr Tina O’Toole of the University of Limerick, who will lecture on cosmopolitan Irishness in the fiction of George Egerton. Besides Britain and Ireland, delegates will be attending from France, Germany and the United States. The Principal Co-ordinator of the network Professor Gerry Smyth said: ‘The department of English here at LJMU has strengths in many of the areas encompassed by this conference. It’s fantastic to have an event like this here in Liverpool, and to be at the forefront of exciting developments in the field of modernist studies.’ This event is part...
Read More
English student gets full LJMU Scholarship for PhD on Northern Irish Troubles

English student gets full LJMU Scholarship for PhD on Northern Irish Troubles

Aimee Walsh, who graduated from LJMU English in 2011, has just heard that she has been awarded a full LJMU Scholarship to pursue her PhD with us. Aimee's working title for her project is 'Voicing the Subaltern Testimonies of the Northern Irish Troubles'. Her research is primarily concerned with the relationship between testimony of marginalised groups (women, security forces, and prisoners) and their representations in Northern Irish art (fiction, film and theatre). She will examine the relationship between personal testimonies of the Northern Irish conflict, from a range of archives, and consider how those subaltern voices are translated into artistic representations of trauma as a result of the 'Troubles'. Despite the available archives, research in the area of trauma testimony in Northern Irish art remains unexplored. Aimee's thesis will focus on testimonies from marginalised voices, particularly those of prisoners, the security forces, and women. She will argue that these depictions of subaltern Troubles testimonies fuse memory and history to create a space for challenging stereotypes of marginalised groups....
Read More
Nora & Jim: Marginal Voices, Centre Stage at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre

Nora & Jim: Marginal Voices, Centre Stage at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre

We got another chance to see LJMU English's Gerry Smyth's play Nora & Jim at Liverpool's Unity Theatre on 31st March and 1st April 2016. The play premiered during the Liverpool Irish Festival in 2015, and is told from the point of view of James Joyce's partner, Nora Barnacle, when the lovers were apart in the autumn of 1909. By imagining Nora's responses to the letters Joyce wrote to her, it gives voice to a marginalised figure who was left legally vulnerable during their separation as an unmarried woman with two illegitimate children to Joyce. The play forms part of the wide-ranging project Marginal Irish Modernisms, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You can visit their microsite here to find out more, and discover further resources on key figures of the movement. Nora & Jim is a cross-School collaboration for LJMU. Written by Gerry, it is directed by David Llewellyn (head of the LJMU Drama department) and features two former LJMU Drama students: Jade Thomson as...
Read More
Shelf Lives at the Central Library: The Easter Rising

Shelf Lives at the Central Library: The Easter Rising

On 16 March 2016, colleagues from LJMU English and University of Liverpool got together with a lively and well-informed audience to explore some of the complex and moving stories that formed part of the Easter Rising in Dublin a century ago. LJMU's Dr Gerry Smyth introduced a remarkable text, James Stephens' The Insurrection in Dublin, a lyrical eye-withness account, published only four months after the events began to unfold. Michael Robinson, from University of Liverpool's Institute of Irish Studies, drew upon the issues raised by Stephen Walker's 2007 book Forgotten Soldiers: The Irishmen Shot at Dawn to remind us of those Irishmen whose battles were being fought on the European mainland. Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile from LJMU then explored the poetry of Joseph Mary Plunkett. The Central Library holds a first edition of Plunkett's collection, published in 1916 after Plunkett had been executed for his role in the Rising, on the same morning as he married Grace Gifford. The book begins with a sketch of its author by...
Read More
The Return of Shelf Lives

The Return of Shelf Lives

Shelf Lives, LJMU English's series of talks run in collaboration with Liverpool's Central Library since it reopened in 2014, is back! Originally conceived as a way of drawing public attention to the amazing resources the Library has to offer, the sessions typically feature contributions by a number of LJMU English staff, with plenty of time for discussion afterwards. Topics are as wide-ranging as our own research interests, but, as organiser Gerry Smyth put it, 'I guess if there is a theme animating the series it's a love of books, of reading, and a celebration of libraries'. All the talks take place at Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EW. Our next sessions are focussed upon particular cultural events in the city and beyond: 16 March 2016 3-4.30pm, Celebrating the Centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916: The Insurrection in Dublin (1916) by James Stephens (Dr Gerry Smyth) Forgotten Soldiers: The Irishmen Shot at Dawn (2007) by Stephen Walker (Michael Robinson) The Poems of...
Read More
Empire and After Go to Artist and Empire

Empire and After Go to Artist and Empire

On Wednesday 20 January Dr Gerry Smyth and Dr Filippo Menozzi took nine second-year students to London to see an exhibition entitled  Artist and Empire at Tate Britain. Taking advantage of LJMU's Corporate Partnership with the Tate organisation, the students - who are all taking a module entitled Empire and After - saw a range or materials (paintings, sculpture, games and other artefacts) relating to the controversial role of the British Empire worldwide. One student, Katie Taylor, said: 'The highlight of the exhibition was Andrew Gilbert’s mixed media installation British Infantry Advance on Jerusalem, 4th of July, 1879. It shows a tableau of British soldiers, imagining them as defeated and displayed as curios adorned with an array of bizarre accessories such as high-heeled leather boots, white leather handbags, shards of broken mirror, numerous dangling teabags and a carrot driven through with nails. The effect was striking among the imperial paintings of the British Empire and helped me to question the way representations of non-British cultures often...
Read More
Marginal Irish Modernisms in the USA

Marginal Irish Modernisms in the USA

Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile of LJMU English spent three weeks of September in the United States promoting the project Marginal Irish Modernisms which secured a grant of over £30,000 from the prestigious Arts and Humanities Research Council. This is a new scholarly network that was established by Deaglán and LJMU English's Dr Gerry Smyth (the project's leader), in order to explore the work of marginalised or critically-neglected Irish modernist writers. Other writers who whose work will form part of the project include Maeve Brennan, J. W. Dunne, Lord Dunsany, Lennox Robinson and John Rutherford. Deaglán met with modernism scholars at the University of California, Los Angeles, at Arizona State University in Phoenix  and at the Mapping Yeats Symposium, held in Kansas City, Missouri.  At Arizona State University, he spoke to staff and students from the Barrett Honors College on the writings of Ernie O’Malley, an Irish republican author whose memoirs offer an aesthetically experimental reflection on the Irish War of Independence. At UCLA, Deaglán also had the...
Read More
The Judas Kiss: Treason and Betrayal in Six Modern Irish Novels

The Judas Kiss: Treason and Betrayal in Six Modern Irish Novels

Gerry Smyth's new book argues that modern Irish history encompasses a deep-seated fear of betrayal, and that this fear has been especially prevalent since the revolutionary period at the outset of the twentieth century. The author goes on to argue that the novel is the literary form most apt for the exploration of betrayal in its social, political and psychological dimensions. The significance of this thesis comes into focus in terms of a number of recent developments – most notably, the economic downturn (and the political and civic betrayals implicated therein) and revelations of the Catholic Church’s failure in its pastoral mission. As many observers note, such developments have brought the language of betrayal to the forefront of contemporary Irish life. This book offers a powerful analysis of modern Irish history as regarded from the perspective of some its most incisive minds, including James Joyce, Liam O’Flaherty, Elizabeth Bowen, Francis Stuart, Eugene McCabe and Anne Enright. ...
Read More
‘He heard the world more than he saw it’: Dr Gerry Smyth launches James Joyce’s Chamber Music Resource

‘He heard the world more than he saw it’: Dr Gerry Smyth launches James Joyce’s Chamber Music Resource

In 2011 Dr Gerry Smyth of LJMU English set to music the thirty-six lyrics that comprise Chamber Music, published by the Irish author James Joyce in 1907. Although Joyce is one of the most studied authors of the modern era, his poetry remains relatively unknown. The following year, Gerry recorded this material for a CD entitled James Joyce’s Chamber Music: New ‘Folkish’ Settings of the Thirty-Six Lyrics, and since then he has performed material from the album on numerous occasions, including events in Belgium, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. During the same period, Dr Smyth commenced work on a web-based learning resource, hosted by LJMU, which features a wide range of textual and video materials relating to Joyce’s original collection, and to the new musical version. This is an on-going project which will in time be fully integrated into LJMU English's teaching and research profile, and you can access it here, and via the 'Links and Resources' section of our site. The website was launched at an event in...
Read More
James Joyce’s Chamber Music

James Joyce’s Chamber Music

LJMU English’s Gerry Smyth is also a musician. In 2012 he recorded and released an album entitled James Joyce’s Chamber Music: this was a folk musical version (co-written and performed with his daughter) of the thirty-six lyric suite published by James Joyce in 1907. Music played a crucial role in Joyce’s literary imagination, and Gerry has gathered together a wealth of material on this aspect of Joyce’s creative process, including the notation and performance of Joyce’s songs. You can explore this amazing resource here. ...
Read More
Shelf Lives: Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shelf Lives: Wednesday, 15 October 2014

LJMU English will be running the next in the series of Shelf Lives talks on the top floor of Liverpool City Library on Wednesday 15th October 2014, from 3PM to 4.30PM. Jon Cranfield will talk about Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), followed by Deaglán Ó Donghaile on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent (1907), and Elspeth Graham on Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler (1653). We hope to see you there.! ...
Read More
Shelf Life (It’s the Only Life We Know)

Shelf Life (It’s the Only Life We Know)

Beginning on Wednesday, 17 September, LJMU English Staff will be giving a series of talks at the (dazzling) Liverpool Central Library. Organised by Dr Gerry Smyth, LJMU English's Reader in Cultural History, each session will feature three presentations on books and other material held by the library, with plenty of time for discussion afterwards. Gerry said: 'We decided that eclecticism - something for everybody – rather than a shared theme or period, would be the best means to structure each session. I guess if there is a theme animating the series it's a love of books, of reading, and a celebration of libraries'. This 'Shelf Life' series will take place on 17 September, 15 October, 12 November and 10 December 2014, beginning at 3pm, on the top floor of the Central Library. Look out for more details on the topics and texts we'll be discussing. We'd love to see you there.  ...
Read More
Dr Gerry Smyth Wins Prestigious Essay Competition

Dr Gerry Smyth Wins Prestigious Essay Competition

Dr Gerry Smyth from LJMU's English Department has won a UK and Ireland essay competition. The essay entitled ‘Place-naming and Space-knowing: An Analysis of Two Irish Poems’ has won the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland Essay Competition for 2012. The judges commented: "This is an intelligently written and thoughtful essay, which offers a sustained analysis of the use of the term tuaim in ‘Suibne the Lunatic’ and Seamus Heaney’s ‘Toome’." ...
Read More