Organisers: Professor Finn Fordham (Royal Holloway, University of London) & Stefano Rossignoli (Trinity College Dublin)

The Finnegans Wake Research Seminar is a reading group that has been running regularly since 2007. It reads James Joyce’s final work, Finnegans Wake, at a close level of detail, which the allusive and multi-layered work demands. Discussion is focused on the text and attention is also paid to Joyce’s manuscripts (copies of which are displayed on a screen). PhD students working on a range of topics (ethics, space, psychoanalysis, Catholicism, America, textual problems, Islam in the 1920s and 30s, fashion and clothing) attend and bring their own concerns to the group. Established academics, graduate students, and a healthy portion of non-academics attend regularly. As a reading group it is also a celebration of methods of close reading, and an investigation into what those methods entail.

The aim of the seminar is to advance the knowledge and understanding of Joyce’s final masterpiece. We will take both a micro and a macro approach, alternating line-by-line readings with an examination of broader issues, such as narrative patterns, themes, motifs, characterisation, and cultural and historical frameworks and contexts.

As stated by the group:

 “Our philosophy is that the Wake has its own particular sense and coherence. We deliberately steer clear of an older notion that words in Finnegans Wake are enclosed worlds of meaning, and thus we do not indulge in associative readings that spin out the endless possibilities suggested by Joyce’s puns and portmanteaus; we do not subscribe to John Bishop’s idea (as he does somewhere in Joyce’s Book of the Dark) that Clive Hart’s Concordance is the best interpretation of Finnegans Wake. Our methods take into account context, and works with syntactical units–the phrase, the sentence, the paragraph–rather than at the word level. Our discussions frequently shift, however, fromt the smallest to the biggest unit, as we inevitable debate larger issues relating to Joyce’s life, history, meaning — and thus it is perfectly acceptable to put all the above into the question.”

The seminar is open to staff and postgraduate students of the University of London, to members of the academic community and to independent scholars with a serious research interest in James Joyce’s later works.

The Finnegans Wake Research Seminars will start from 29 September 2017, but to find out information on the seminars for the 2017/18 academic year, you can follow the link to the IES website or go directly to the seminar schedule.

If you wish to delve further into the Finnegans Wake Seminars, then follow the link to their active blog where you can find details on topics and themes to be discussed, records of discussions and information who on to contact.