May 27, 2004

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Contact: Kathryn Conrad, Department of English, (785) 864-2572.

KU to celebrate Joyce's Ireland with marathon reading and more, June 10-17

LAWRENCE -- The Department of English at the University of Kansas will present "Joyce's Ireland: A Celebration of the Bloomsday Centenary" June 10 through 17. The weeklong celebration of Irish culture will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the day on which James Joyce's famous novel "Ulysses" is set.

"'Ulysses' is listed regularly as one of the top 10 great works of literature in the English language, and yet many people have not read it. It has a reputation both as a great work of literature but also as a difficult work of literature," said Kathryn Conrad, KU associate professor of English. Conrad specializes in Irish literature and culture and has taught several courses on Joyce's work at KU.

The week's events will include a mini conference on Joyce's Ireland, June 11 and 12 at the Kansas Union, and a movable marathon reading of "Ulysses" beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 16, Bloomsday, at various locations in downtown Lawrence.

"Lawrence is an ideal place to do this, since KU has one of the best collections of 19th- and 20th- century Irish materials in the world in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library," Conrad said. "Since 2004 is also the centenary of Ireland's national theatre, the Abbey, we felt that this was an opportunity not to be missed.

"The centenary of 'Bloomsday' provides us a great opportunity to provide the public with a number of fun ways to experience and think about this work and Irish culture more generally."

KU's Bloomsday celebration of Joyce is attracting regional and national scholars and students of Irish literature as well as the general public. Free lectures, movies and a theatre production are scheduled at various locations in Lawrence during the week. In addition, many area pubs have scheduled Irish music concerts as part of the celebration. The full schedule of events and registration information are available at

Two internationally known Joyce scholars, Vicki Mahaffey of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Patrick Gillespie of Marquette University, will present free, public lectures. Mahaffey will speak at 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 11, in the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium, and Gillespie will lecture at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 12, at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire. Receptions and music will follow.

The week's free events also include:

- a lecture and visual presentation by Conrad, "Leprechauns, Gorillas and Virgins: Representing Ireland in Text and Image," at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont
- a performance of "Tristan and Isolde," a story from which Joyce drew inspiration, presented by international storyteller Priscilla Howe, 7 p.m. Friday, June 11, in the Lawrence Public Library auditorium
- a free film screening at KU
- a display of Joyce materials at KU's Kenneth Spencer Research Library
- a free staged reading of Don Nigro's irreverent play "Lucia Mad," produced by English Alternative Theater at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at the Lawrence Arts Center

The week will culminate in a 28-plus-hour marathon reading of "Ulysses" on June 16. All members of the community are encouraged not only to come and listen but also to participate as readers, either by advance sign-up via the conference e-mail address ( or simply by showing up and reading.

Principal funding for the Mahaffey lecture and partial funding for the Gillespie lecture are provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions and ideas that shape our lives and build community. Principal funding for the Gillespie lecture and reception is provided by KU's Hall Center for the Humanities. The Lawrence Public Library is a co-sponsor. More information about sponsors and partners is available at the Joyce's Ireland Web site.


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