We are pleased to invite you all to the final session of the Staff-Postgraduate Seminar Series this academic year. It’s been a wonderful run and we’d like to thank everyone who has presented and attended thus far. We are particularly excited about our last evening next Tuesday, 5 April at 17:00 in the Trinity Long Room Hub’s Neill Lecture Theatre, where the School of English’s own Dr Rosie Lavan will be giving the last paper of the year.
Dr Lavan’s paper is titled: “History is now and Derry: McCann, McCafferty, and Life-Writing.“
This paper looks closely at two non-fiction texts about Derry – or, more specifically, about the Bogside area of the city – which together span the period from the late 1960s to the late 1980s: Eamonn McCann’s War and an Irish Town (1974; rev. eds. 1980, 1993), and Nell McCafferty’s Peggy Deery: A Derry Family at War (1988). McCann seeks to offer an account of the origins of the civil rights movement and the early years of violence, but his book is also a submerged autobiography, charting the development of his own political convictions. By contrast, McCafferty’s approach is explicitly biographical: she profiles the life of that most elusive of subjects, an ‘ordinary woman’, and the domestic and familial implications of the experience of conflict. Both texts are centred around the interplay between collective and individual experience. Both too raise questions about the mutability of genre in specific relation to non-fiction or journalistic writing. To explore these, the paper will consider the distinctive narrative presences of McCann and McCafferty, and their management of their own central involvement in the shared stories they tell. Their contemporary concerns are receding into a past which is increasingly historical, but they were historicising the present from the outset.
After reading English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Dr Lavan trained as a journalist at City University, London. She worked on the business desk at The Times for two years, as a media assistant to a London MEP during the European elections in 2009, and for House of Lords Hansard. After this, she returned to Oxford for postgraduate study in 2010 and completed her doctorate, ‘Seamus Heaney and Society, 1964 – 1994’, in 2014. Dr Lavan joined the School of English at TCD in September 2015.
The talk will be introduced by founder-director of the Oscar Wilde Centre at TCD and poet, Professor Gerald Dawe.
Please share the event and come along. There will be a wine reception following the talk. We look forward to seeing you there!