We are pleased to announce the 2021 Mid-Atlantic and New England Regional meeting (rescheduled from 2020 due to Covid-19) of the American Conference for Irish Studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. The two-day conference will feature two keynote speakers: Seán Kennedy (Professor of English and Coordinator of Irish Studies at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia) on “Awakening to what? The subject of abuse after Endgame” and Claire Kilroy (author of All Summer, Tenderwire, All Names Have Been Changed, The Devil I Know), in conversation with Mary Burke.
Irish Studies is still awakening to new topics, approaches, realities, and histories; to the diversity of its identities, methodologies, and disciplines. The conference theme—Awakenings: Discovery, Activisms, and Change in the Irish Past and Present—invites considerations of new awakenings in Irish politics, culture, and arts, as well as attention to a history of awakenings in Ireland: histories of uncovered secrets, critical discoveries, activist struggles, and transformative change.
The massive social and political earthquakes of the past decade and the continuing changes moment by moment—political, cultural, ecological—will ensure the need to stay awake to change. In what ways are practices of biopower in contemporary Irish, Northern Irish, and global life, as well as those of past institutions, being registered in Irish culture and how is academic scholarship on intersectionality, disability, and neurodiversity developing? How can the developments in contemporary Irish publishing—with new works by women, writers of color, asylum-seekers, Travellers, and other marginalized groups—be placed in a longer history of literary and historical productions that seek to resist, disrupt, and reframe the status quo of the Irish canon?
We also invite considerations of ongoing processes of disavowals and forgetting in the context of awakening itself: of struggles lost, discoveries reburied, politics forgotten. In what ways might a politics of awakening presuppose and establish the conditions of its own erasure? How can a history of Irish cultural and political awakenings reveal these intertwined dynamics of recognition and forgetting? And what new figurative forms—political and methodological—might be made available as a result?
Awakening is also remembering the nightmares of history. And what is the opposite of awakening? Perhaps repression, complacency, or decadence; in 1907 Joyce implored, “if [Ireland] is truly capable of reviving, let her awake, or let her cover up her head and lie down decently in her grave forever.” Like Joyce, we also seek to explore the failures of awakening and revival in the Irish past or present, while also interrogating the gendering of Ireland as woman and the construction (and at times even coopting) of awakening as an experience of otherness.
We welcome individual paper proposals as well as panel and roundtable proposals that address any aspect of Irish Studies. Proposals may wish to address the following:
- Awakening to Irish diversities, including new demographics, identities, and intersectionalities
- Recent political transformations, including the 2020 elections and Brexit
- Revelations about biopower in Irish history and the present: Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalen Laundries, Direct Provision
- Unpacking myths of unity and/or awakening to solidarity/complexity
- Critical innovations in the Medical Humanities, disability and neurodiversity
- Histories of LGBTQ and feminist activisms in Ireland
- Ecocritical and environmental humanities approaches to Irish Studies
- The politics of technologies
- The voices of marginalized and minority communities in Ireland
- Visual awakenings: film, photography, art, and digital video
- Interdisciplinarity and the field of Irish Studies
All conference presenters and attendees must be current paid members of ACIS. Individual or panel abstracts of 300 words will be requested in June 2021. Please send any questions to Abby Bender at firstname.lastname@example.org.