Abstracts for Tuesday December 1st!

Ray Byrne

staffpostgrad15-byrne (1)

French Language and the Language of Shakespeare


The presence in Shakespeare’s plays of lexis and other language features now extinct, or banished to ‘poetic English’, which are patently French, argues for a far longer dominance of Anglo-French in Medieval England, than is generally supposed. However, between the time of Shakespeare and our own, English seems to have been divesting itself of vocabulary and other features most noticeably French, the vestiges of which are found in Early Modern English. This study, aided by many years’ cultural and linguistic experience of the north of France, seeks to highlight and comment on these features as an important aspect of Shakespeare’s language not yet explored in detail.

In many cases, though a word may be still in use, its meaning in Shakespeare is often identical to, or closer to, its meaning in Anglo-French, Old French, Middle French, or Anglo-Norman, than its usage now in English, arguing for a linguistic legacy of the Norman Conquest which was so far-reaching in English society, as to survive into the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As French developed in a linear way, without the linguistic influence of a major foreign occupation, it is possible to draw a direct line at times, between historical French usage and the language of Shakespeare.

This is part of a wider thesis exploring the legacy of the Norman Conquest on Shakespeare’s plays, and the contrast between Shakespeare’s early orientation towards the Romance cultures of southern Europe, especially France and Italy (where the Normans also conquered territory), rather than towards the geographical and cultural margins of Scotland, Denmark, Cyprus, and ancient Britain, the settings of his greatest tragedies.

Recent historical and linguistic scholarship has been re-evaluating the importance of the Norman Conquest on the cultural development of England.


Conor Linnie



Séan O’Faoláin and Paul Henry: Writer and artist on an Irish journey

at the outbreak of the Second World War.



The outbreak of the Second World War saw the enforcement of overseas restrictions for civilians that placed a new emphasis on cross-border and regional travel in Ireland. For writers and artists, the striking experiential contrasts that attended the commute between the neutral South and wartime North proved an enduring concern, provoking the sustained and fractious deliberation on the themes of isolation and engagement across literature and the visual arts during the period.


In the summer and autumn of 1939, Séan O’Faoláin and Paul Henry embarked upon a journey throughout Ireland, travelling from the provincial southern towns and rural western seaboard to blacked-out industrial Belfast. Their recorded experiences in prose and paint would eventually be published together in the 1940 travelogue An Irish Journey. This paper explores the way in which the themes of isolation and engagement unfold in the book through the dynamic relationship between O’Faoláin’s writing and Henry’s art. The visual coding and writing style of An Irish Journey will, moreover, be examined within the context of the wartime publishing market and tourist trade.



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