Deconstructing the Apocalypse: from Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” to Pedrolo’s “Mecanoscrit del segon origen” – Pedro Fernández Dorado

There is no doubt about Mary Shelley´s The Last Man being one of the most politically charged works in the Romantic period. However, traditional criticism has pictured Shelley as a mere observant and supporter of her husband P.B. Shelley and his career as one of the most representative Romantic poets. As a result, the main critical visions on this novel have been based on biographical readings of the novel, narrowing down a wide range of political interpretations to a less than satisfactory ¨roman a clef¨ definition.

My aim in the first part of my research project is not only to validate Shelley’s political agenda in “The Last Man”, but also to try to understand the reasons behind her undermining of most political ideologies present in her time, a fact represented by the death of almost all main characters in her novel. By narrating the slow extinction of the race, Shelley hardly conceals her skepticism towards the failure of Romantic political ideas.

In the second part of my research, I will extrapolate my conclusions to a different novel, ¨El mecanoscrit del segon origen¨ a Catalan post-apocalyptic novel written in 1974 by Manuel de Pedrolo. The objective of this case study is to try to capture the essence of the last man motif, focusing on deconstruction of political ideologies as a possible inherent characteristic of this figure. My choice of Pedrolo as the second author in this study is justified with the key moment in Spanish history in which the novel was written, at the very beginning of the country’s transition to democracy, and the controversial critical neglect of this important Catalan literary figure.

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Pilgrimage as Embodied Mobility – Richard Scriven

My research investigates pilgrimage practices, as an embodied mobility, in contemporary Ireland. Pilgrimage is a distinctly spatial human behaviour, involving performances that are centred on specific places. Insights offered by the ‘mobilities turn‘ within the social sciences, which has highlighted the significance of movement, fluidity and the nomadic in shaping the world, inform this approach. Utilising the ontological framework of the new mobilities paradigm with insights from nonrepresentational geographies, pilgrimage is engaged with as an embodied mobility.

The practice of pilgrimage can be seen as a process involving the subjects (pilgrims) and the spaces (sacred places/landscapes) both being defined by and, even, emerging through

This study involves frameworks and approaches that can considered pilgrimage in terms of both the representational (understandings, narratives, ideologies) and the practical/ nonrepresentational (embodied experiences, beliefs, sensual). This requires the consideration of methodological challenges in attempts to access and capture a holistic appreciation of pilgrimage (including the experiential and sensual, as much as the observable and representable) as it is occurring in place.

The adoption of a ‘mobility ethnography’ allows for the integration of the theoretical framework of the new mobilities paradigm, with particular reference to the geographies of mobilities, and an ethnographic approach. Such an approach allows for a blend of the strength of ethnography, as a methodology that privileges direct contact with people in place, and more recent innovations that aim to get closer to the actual practices as they are occurring, so to access and to capture them in real time. This mobility ethnography consists of a collection of complementary methods: participant observation, photography, audio-visual recording, interviews, and visual and documentary research.

The research focuses on a number of case studies, including local/regional devotional sites (a selection of holy wells in the South West of Ireland) and a national pilgrimage location (Croagh Patrick). The fieldwork requires that each site be visited multiple times, especially at key dates/feast days.

RKS-2012 Fig. 1: Pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick, Mayo, Ireland on the annual pilgrimage day ‘Reek Sunday’ 2012. (Source: R. Scriven).

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Female Education in the Early Modern Period

Female Education in the Early Modern Period

My research topic for the Master’s by Research involves female education in the early modern period. My main figure is Margaret More Roper, the daughter of Sir Thomas More and his first wife. Thomas More was seen as a radical thinker when it came to female education.  He wished for his daughters to be educated in the same way as his son, and the other children in the Academy he ran in his own household. As he was often away from home with the court of Henry VIII, More kept in regular contact with the tutors of the children to ensure that his high standards were being met.

More was also a great friend of the humanist Erasmus, and his extensive writings on education were seen to have influenced More and his treatment of women and their education. Indeed, the Republic of Letters was not against the education and subsequent empowerment of women. The Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives published his De Institutione Feminae Christianae in 1523 under the patronage of Catherine of Aragon, for the education of the Princess Mary. Vives was a frequent visitor to More’s household, where he no doubt beheld the education of Margaret More and her sisters, and his radical text may have been influenced by these women.

Margaret More Roper was her father’s most beloved child, and the academic star of the family. She was renowned for her education and her fluency in Latin and Greek; the contemporaries of More were impressed with her ability. With that said however, Roper was never fully accepted as a scholar; she was impressive “for a woman”. Yes, her father was well-respected amongst his fellow humanists, but the tight-knit community of the Republic of Letters never embraced her with open arms.

She was pushed to the edge of this elite group because of her gender. Her learning to them represented chastity and the utmost virtue, and she was seen as a credit to her father, even though her place was well-deserved. Vives too, though at one point deemed the next Erasmus, found himself on the peripheraries of a group that used to welcome him wholeheartedly. I wish to look at htese two figures because they were both on the outside looking in.

Even with these prejudices against her however, Margaret More Roper’s academic career flourished. Although many of her writngs have not survived, her most famous piece of academic writing was her published translation of Erasmus’ A Devout Treatise upon the Pater Noster, a translation which Erasmus himself ratified.

What I wish to discover throughtout the course of my research is how Margaret More oper did succeed in becoming recognised for her academic ability in her own right, not in the shadow of her father. Who advocated female education in the 16th century and why, and was the erudition of this remarkable woman known to them? Roper and Vives are the main subjects of my study; Roper as the learned woman, Vives as the outside advocate. Due to the close bond and devotion that existed between Margaret and Thomas More, I felt it better to use his influence and household as context for the study, along with Erasmus and his relevant ideas.

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Representations of Gender in the Puppet Theatre – Leslie Burton

Puppets in Research and Practice

My research area covers the theatre of objects, puppets, and moving sculpture. I am investigating these traditions with particular emphasis on gender representation through history into modern performance. In the history of puppetry, most often men have been the makers and manipulators of the puppet body. What, then, do depictions of women in puppetry tell us about their creators? And would women have created differently? As my research is practice-based, the creation of figures and the development of performances
is fueling my academic research, and vice versa, in a sort of perpetual motion machine that scholars of the creative arts are still working to define.

In a scientific experiment, the research and the practice go hand-in-
hand as a matter of course, but in the creative and performing arts it becomes necessary to define how the art constitutes research, and what separates it from a purely creative and unexamined output. Theory and practice have been divided in Western thought since the time of Plato, due to the sense that action and practice indicate a lack of intellectual activity. Interconnected trends, movements, and thinkers of the last hundred years or so, feminism and postmodernism to Derrida’s deconstruction, have pulled at the threads of carefully woven logical dichotomies with the result that ‘learning by doing’ is no longer a second-class epistemological stance. In terms of puppetry, there is study in the creation of figures, the process of manipulating materials, the designing and aesthetic considerations. To root this practice in theatrical tradition, study of the history of puppet theatre is necessary, and because of my interest in representations of women, there is necessarily a strong feminist framework to the enquiry.

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Entryism, Expulsion and Exodus: The Radical Left and the Labour Party 1965-1991

The history of the Irish working class, like many of the facets of Irish social history, remains under-researched and this is doubly true concerning the history of more radical strands of the labour movement in Ireland. This is of course not to diminish the vital role of the Irish Labour History Society in promoting discussion on the historiography of the Irish working class and shedding light on the role of the various strands of Marxism in the development of both the political and industrial aspects of working class life.

In this thesis I plan to make a contribution to this endeavour. My proposed topic ‘Entryism, Expulsion and Exodus: The Radical Left and the Labour Party 1965-1991’ will be focused on  the relationship between The Militant Tendency and the Labour Party leadership, the reason I have chosen the Militant was because it was the most well organised radical left faction within the party, also the tactics of Entryism used by the Militant while by no means unique within the Trotskyist movement globally were, during this period, used most effectively in Ireland by the Militant.

After introducing and explaining the development of entryism in an international and Irish context I plan to focus on the ideological shifts which took place within the Irish Labour Party during the period 1965-1991 starting with an overview of the mid to late sixties when Labour was still considered to be a  mass workers party, declaring that the ‘seventies would be socialist’ which led to many radical groups which flourished during this period campaigning on issues as diverse as housing to the Vietnam War to flock to Labour  which at  this time had the democratic openness which gave space for radical forces like the Militant to express their views and allowed rank and file activists to challenge and hold to account the national leadership (including the parliamentary wing) of the party. Focusing on this period I plan to examine the use of entryism as a tactic by the Militant Tendency, from 1972 onwards, examining the development of the Militants within the party, the growth of its membership and readership of its newspaper ‘The Militant’ and its influence among different sections of the party, especially labour youth which it gained control of for a period of time. The continuing presence of the militant and its growing influence caused tensions between it, the broader left and the leadership of the more moderate sections of the Labour Party. These tensions became more apparent after the fall of the Fine Gael/Labour government resulting in the election of 1987 when Labour lost four seats nationally with party leader Dick Spring just barely holding on to his own seat and the Labour Party itself displaced as the third party in Irish politics by the newly formed Progressive Democrats.

In the aftermath of 1987 election the moderate section of the Labour leadership under Dick Spring instigated a process of ‘modernisation’ within the ranks of the party, a path similar to the one taken by the British Labour Party a few years earlier, which involved a systemic attack on the radical left within the party. This struggle between the moderate leadership of Labour and the radical left (most prominently the Militant Tendency) resulted in the victory of said leadership over the radical left of the party culminating in the ‘purges’ of the late eighties/early nineties. This process also led to the exodus of many rank and file activists who were not members of the Militant but who nevertheless stood on the left and would be sympathetic to their views and also resulted in the restricting of democratic freedoms and strict centralization of the Labour Party. In the course of this thesis I will not present these developments as a linear development but as a dialectical one, recognizing that there were periods of ‘ebb and flow’ with regard to the influence of the right wing over the party, reflecting the objective conditions of the times and the relation of forces within the party itself.

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Bringing up the Body

When reading what there are in the way of recent treatments of Frank O’Connor’s work, a notable commonplace mentioned in the opening salvos is the absence of scholarly attention that has been paid to his work, particularly in his own country (Barnes vii, Brown 41, Delaney 143, Lennon 15-16). Several reasons are offered for what Barnes describes as the “respectful forgettingness” that has fallen over O’Connor’s corpus (vii). Among them are the growing academic interest in the decades after his death in the literary modernism produced by many of his contemporaries, which left his own naturalist/realist tales seeming outmoded or even quaint; much of his subject matter, the disappointing state of the post-revolutionary State, coming to be seen as irrelevant to the Irish society that was emerging under the modernising governments from the 1960s onwards; the relatively scant attention paid to his favoured form, the short story; his harsh criticism of Ireland; his self-imposed exiles in Britain and America. Certainly O’Connor was a cultural producer of the Ireland of his time. By that, I mean both that as a writer/broadcaster he was very much a product of the socio-historical events that shaped post-independence and post-revolution Ireland, and that he was a writer who as much as anybody wrote the Ireland of that period. Indeed, Declan Kiberd notes the “casual ease with which” O’Connor “substitutes [himself] as a shorthand for his country” in his autobiography (Qtd. Brown 44). That the body of work of a writer with so close an affinity to such a crucial moment in the development of Irish society merits critical re-animation and re-examination seems obvious enough. My task here, of course, is to question and propose suggestions as to how such an enterprise might be best abetted by engagement with digital technologies. Digital literary projects largely fall into two strands – machine reading and archiving. Machine reading is applied on the whole to vast corpora beyond a single (or even a significant number of) person(s)’s potential lifetime of reading – certainly larger than the oeuvre of even so prolific a producer as O’Connor. And though there are examples of interesting small corpora projects (eg Inaki and Akita’s Alice in Wonderland Project), I see the potential democratisation of knowledge afforded by a digital archival project as being the most apposite to my proposed exhuming of O’Connor’s corpus. Beyond his storied short-stories, which number some two hundred, O’Connor wrote plays novels; literary criticism; vast numbers of articles (including the long-running pseudonymous Ben Mayo newspaper column) on literary subjects, politics, religion, the slums of Cork and travel; thousands of letters and numerous broadcasts. The challenge, of course, is to contrive a tool that can serve the purpose of ‘bringing up’ O’Connor’s body of work. There are number of issues with digitising O’Connor’s work – for example, it remains under copyright. However, permissions can be sought for some and others can be represented tagged abstracts so that the archive can be searched and manipulated variously. It is by addressing the questions that surround these methodologies meaningfully that will allow O’Connor’s work to move from ‘respectful forgetingness’ to a more desirable position of precocious engagement.

Works Cited
Barnes, Julian. Introduction. Frank O’Connor: “My Oedipus Complex” and Other Stories. By Frank O’Connor. London: Penguin, 2005. vii-xiii. Print.
Brown, Terence. “Frank O’Connor and a Vanishing Ireland.” Lennon 41-52.
Delaney, Paul. “Changing Times: Frank O’Connor and Sean O’Faoláin.” A Companion to Irish Literature. Ed. Julia M. Wright. Malden: Blackwell, 2010. 144-158. Print.
Lennon, Hilary, ed. Frank O’Connor: Critical Essays. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007. Print.
—. Introduction. Lennon 15-26.
Inaki, Akiko and Tomoko Akita. “A Small-Corpus-Based Approach to Alice’s Roles.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 21.3 (2006). Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

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Collaborative Creativity

Online environments enhance graduate creativity.  This online ejournal is an online class project for PG6010 a postgraduate class in editing at University College Cork.

Living Between Memory, War, and Daily life
The Impact of the “Nakba”(Palestinian Catastrophe) on Internally Displaced Palestinian Women in Israel

The Nakba resulted in the destruction of Palestinian society; only 160,000 people managed to avoid expulsion and became a national minority in their land. Palestinian Israeli citizens most affected from discrimination are the Internal Displaced Palestinians (IDPs) who were forced out of their original homes to find shelter in makeshift camps nearby or in neighboring towns.

This research focuses on the personal experiences of the IDP women from the first generation, within the context of the social and political changes that have taken place in their lives over the last sixty three years. Furthermore, this research is trying to link these memories and reflections to the second and third generations of IDP women.
Conditions of exile and memories of the past have had colossal effects on the social, religious and political life of IDPs in Israel as dispersed inhabitants. What are those social consequences? To what extent have integration or assimilation policies affected those Palestinians living in shelter Palestinian villages and towns in Israel?

When I began my MA research I found little material concerning Palestinian women in Israel from a political and social perspective. Most of what was written focused on Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and as I chose to focus upon Internally Displaced refugee Palestinian women in Israel, I found almost nothing. Most of the literature about Palestinian refugee women was about refugees in Lebanon, with less on those in Jordan and Syria. Therefore, I decided that my research would focus on the most forgotten category of Palestinians refugees, namely, Palestinian citizens of Israel who are Internally Displaced refugees and women.
The Internally Displaced Palestinians inside Israel are one of the worst off categories of Palestinian refugees as far as registration of status is concerned. Israel never recognized them separately from the Palestinian minority as refugees or IDPs inside Israel. At the same time, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) did not register them with the external refugees. This created the absence of a system for registration of the Internally Displaced Palestinians.

The testimonies of IDP women in Nazareth and Akka (Acre) districts, whom was interviewed over the period 2008 to 2012, taught me how these women experienced the expulsion process. They experienced the Nakba through the many roles that they played as women (mothers, wives, etc.). As women are often the emotional centre and power (source of strength) in the family, they often found themselves having to simultaneously manage their own anxiety while caring for others. They had to cope with their loss of land and tradition. Possibly the most important issue was the loss of economic resources, which impacted on their lives and their self-confidence. They were taken from their traditional environment and lifestyle, without the aid of new knowledge or skills, or any other support to help them manage their new life, which was devastating.

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