A conference on the work of John McGahern

full name / name of organization: 
Richard Robinson / Swansea University

A conference on the work of
John McGahern
Swansea University
8-9 April 2011

Papers are invited for a two-day conference on the writings of John McGahern, to be held on 8-9 April 2011 at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. Submissions are welcome on all aspects of McGahern's fiction, and how it relates both to canonical and contemporary Irish literature.
It is misleading to dwell too much on the notorious banning of The Dark by the Irish censor in 1965. By the time of McGahern's death in 2006, his literary reputation in Ireland was secure – there is now an international summer school devoted to his work. McGahern has also won critical acclaim in France, but his position in Britain is more elusive. Although some British writers and critics have written admiringly of McGahern's work, his fiction has been somewhat overlooked or misrepresented: there has been a certain asymmetry to his critical reception on either side of the Irish Sea. This conference, the first of its kind to be held in Britain, will begin to redress this imbalance, enquiring into McGahern's role both as an Irish writer and a writer in English.
Speakers may wish to consider the following subjects:
• McGahern's engagement with, or disengagement from, Irish modernism.
• That 'dubious enterprise, the Irish Short Story' (JM): McGahern's contribution to the genre, Irish or not.
• Representations of the family, women, church, country, city, nation.
• The sacred and the profane; ritual.
• 'The universal is the local, but with the walls taken away' (JM, paraphrasing Miguel Torga).
• The Law of the Father; the lost Mother.
• Art and politics: the ideology of McGahern's aesthetic.
• How McGahern's fiction relates to wider debates about tradition and modernity in Irish studies.
• McGahern's critical reception in Ireland, Britain and elsewhere.
• McGahern's library: Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Ernie O' Malley, Alistair Macleod, John Williams, Forrest Reid, and others.
• Comparisons to and influences on contemporary Irish writers.
• Memories voluntary and involuntary: approaches to Memoir.