Abstracts for Week 4

by staffpostgraduate14

Wednesday 15th October
Where is America?: The car as the new suburb in Richard Ford’s Bascombe books

The mass movement to the American suburbs in the twentieth century has been well-documented from a historical and literary point of view. Seen as the ultimate goal for ambitious middle-class Americans, the suburbs earned a reputation (not always fair) for stagnation and finality. This move to the suburbs was facilitated in part by the explosion in automobile manufacturing, enabling people to move around in the absence of public transport. This paper will examine the role of the car in the affluent, developed New Jersey suburbs of Richard Ford’s Bascombe books – The Sportswriter (1986), Independence Day (1995), and The Lay of the Land (2006). Frank Bascombe asks at one point ‘why do so many things happen in cars? Are they the only interior life left?’ In examining the function of the car in these novels, this paper will explore issues of American individualism and exceptionalism and propose that the car has become the next American suburb.

Jenny Daly

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‘The resort of all the wise and witty of the day’: Dublin’s Literary Salons, 1760-1810.

The salon played a major role in eighteenth-century associational life, allowing women the opportunity to participate in literary networks held in luxurious settings as both participants and hostesses. This paper will offer an overview of three important Dublin salons, hosted by Elizabeth Vesey, Lady Moira, and Mary Tighe. In addition to their role in promoting elite sociability, these salons also played a significant role in literary creation, evaluation and circulation, as well as supporting cultural exchanges between Ireland and England. These salons, held at Lucan House, Moira House, and Dominick Street respectively, tell us much about literary life in eighteenth- century Dublin and the impact of events such as legislative independence, the 1798 rebellion, and the Act of Union on such literary networks. The considerable archival material available for these salons, including inventories, household accounts, personal correspondence, stray verse and travel descriptions, enables one to form a genuine understanding of the salons’ operation, as well as their aims, context, and sense of purpose.

Dr. Amy Prendergast 


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