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Bloomsday 2017 Lecture by Dr Derek Hand

The Department of English

 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

 University of Malaya

in collaboration with

The Department of English Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences University of Malaya

The Embassy of Ireland

Kuala Lumpur

Embassy of Ireland Kuala Lumpur

warmly welcomes you to the


 Bloomsday 2017 Lecture


The Endless Possibilities of Ordinary Life”:

The Post-colonial Irish Novel



 Dr Derek Hand 


Friday, 16 June 2017 

 10 AM – 12 Noon 

Dataran Sastera (Arts Concourse)

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

University of Malaya


The event will also feature an exhibition on James Joyce

and short readings by staff and students.



Abstract: The colonised space is always the place of analogy: it is always being compared with places and experiences and supposed realities elsewhere, with the centre of empire, of which the colony can only be but a pale reflection. In this talk I plan to offer an account of how the Irish novel as a form responds to this predicament, and how it sets up a dialogue with and against metropolitan voices of domination.  This is not simply a case of the Empire Writing Back, but rather is a rendering of the colonised world in conversation with itself.

The novel form’s link to modernity means it is a site where the emergence of the individual into modernity can be witnessed. For the Irish person, burdened with the often-debilitating effect of the imposed stereotype, meaning that she/he is already always known, the space afforded by the novel might allow for the complexities of the Irish individual to be played out. Of course, many novels present this as a struggle between the rights of the person in conflict with the pressures of traditional modes of community and shared experience. In Ireland this conflict is compounded by the fact that the individual person has been habitually overwhelmed in the depiction of individuals as representations of a community and of the nation. The tension in much of the best of Irish novel writing is between this wish to configure and acknowledge specifically Irish traits and characteristics, as well as the demand to recognise Ireland as a space where it also possible to be simply human. The consequence for the Irish novel, as it is for Irish culture generally, is that it has been and continues to be caught between the desire to be exceptional and the endless possibilities of ordinary life.


Speaker Bio: Dr Derek Hand is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the School of English in Dublin City University. The Liffey Press published his book John Banville: Exploring Fictions in 2002. He edited a special edition of the Irish University Review on John Banville in 2006. He was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Research Fellowship for 2008-2009. His A History of the Irish Novel: 1665 to the present was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and is now available in paperback. He is interested in Irish writing in general and has published articles on W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Colum McCann, Molly Keane, Benedict Kiely, Mary Lavin, and William Trevor and on contemporary Irish fiction. He has lectured on Irish writing in the USA, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Brazil, Italy, Sweden and France. He is now working on a critical study of recent Irish fiction entitled The Celtic Tiger Irish Novel 1994-2010: modernity and mediocrity. He is also currently co-editing a collection of essays on John McGahern entitled, Essays on John McGahern: Assessing a Literary Legacy to be published by Cork University Press.