“Dubliner” Kaelin Foody ’18 Studies Joyce at University College Dublin
Kaelin Foody ’18 has had the full experience of James Joyce’s Dublin as a scholar participating in the University College Dublin’s James Joyce Summer School.
Foody is an English major with minors in Irish literature, Latin,classical humanities, and advanced writing. As a student in the Dublin James Joyce Summer School, Foody spent one week in Dublin, the setting and inspiration for Joyce’s major works. Each day she was able to discuss his life and writings with other Joyce scholars and enthusiasts at the Newman House, where Joyce himself studied. While engaging in Dublin’s intellectual environment, students explored the city, taking the Walking Tour of Joycean Dublin at the James Joyce Center, visiting Marsh’s Librarys—the first public library in Ireland, and touring the Life and Works of W.B. Yeats exhibition at the National Library of Ireland.
In the mornings, Foody attended lectures by premiere Joyce scholars from Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany and the United States. In the afternoons, she participated in seminars centered on Joyce’s major works: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegan’s Wake, and Ulysses. Lectures and seminars included a wide variety of scholarship and interest, creating a unique and exciting mix. Some presentation titles included: “Joyce’s ‘Scissors and Paste’ Aesthetic;” “A Portrait of the Artist as a Repressed Dramatist;” “James Joyce, Minimalist;” and “A World that Ran through Things: James Joyce, The Easter Rising and Modernism.”
“Each presentation was extraordinary,” says Foody. “Each speaker had specialized, unique interests in Joyce, and they were given the opportunity to rave about their findings and interests. It was a small setting, too, so we all had the privilege of asking as many questions as we liked afterward.”
Trying to digest her experience is like Joyce’s writing: complicated from the outset, but intrinsically rewarding upon reflection. “Since each scholar presented his or her own specialty, I was bombarded throughout the week with very unique insights into Joyce. For example, one presenter spent his time explaining Joyce’s drafting and editing process. He showed us copies of Joyce’s scribbled manuscripts and journals—and revealed how Joyce used crayons to color-code his chaos into a masterpiece.”
The fear of not measuring up was very real for Foody as she sat among these top scholars. “I was so afraid of embarrassing myself and looking like an amateur academic in a room of veteran Joyce scholars. But my experience was nothing like that. The Summer School catered to and valued all levels of Joyce interest and understanding. I was concerned, since I’m such a young academic, that my opinions and thoughts wouldn’t be as valued as they are at Le Moyne—but they certainly were! I realized that I can be an academic outside of Le Moyne as well.”
Foody learned about this opportunity through Dr. Michael Davis, associate professor of English and a specialist in Victorian and modern literature. “Dr. Davis wrote me a letter of recommendation for this program; I received a full academic scholarship from the Dublin James Joyce Summer School because of that recommendation,” she says. “The abundant support that I got from Le Moyne’s English department, too, was really amazing. They all gave me the push I need, which kept me from shying away from this amazing opportunity.”
Foody first discovered Joyce in her first year at Le Moyne in her ENG 210 Major Authors class that she took with Dr. Davis. “I learned quickly in that class that so much of Joyce’s writing is a sort of puzzle with endless depth,” she says. Foody, however, would not be through working with Joyce, especially Ulysses. “The summer after I took my ENG 210 class, Dr. Davis reached out to me with an opportunity to work as a research assistant for a retired Joyce scholar, Dr. John Bishop. We would talk about Joyce’s works. He somehow convinced me to begin the intimidating task of reading Ulysses, and over several weeks we met to discuss each chapter. So my work with him slowly became more of a class than a job, which wonderful. His enthusiasm and support was enough to kindle in me an interest in Joyce, and eventually send me off to the summer school. I hope to continue working with him until I graduate, and, with any luck, Dr. Bishop will help me tackle Finnegan’s Wake as well.”
Though the lectures and seminars were intellectually stimulating and pushed her to engage fully in some of the 20th century’s most beloved works, Foody found the challenge of travelling to a new place the most rewarding part of her summer. “I think the best experience I had through my entire trip was pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The feeling of having accomplished something that originally intimidated you, like travel, is unparalleled in its rewards.”