Irish Studies Würzburg

Guest Lecture: Dr. Maureen O'Connor (University College Cork/University of Würzburg), "Haunted Nature in the Fiction of Edna O'Brien"

Datum: 30.11.2023, 14:00 - 16:00 Uhr
Ort: Hubland Süd, Geb. Z6 (Zentrales Hörsaal- u. Seminargebäude), 2.012/online
Vortragende: Dr. Maureen O'Connor

Novelist Edna O’Brien has come to be considered Ireland’s greatest living writer after decades of political denunciation and critical dismissal in her homeland since her groundbreaking 1960 Bildungsroman, The Country Girls. Beginning in the late 1990s, her work began to be taken seriously by literary critics. Most of the scholarship in O’Brien Studies since that time has comprised feminist and psychoanalytic studies, valuable work in positioning O’Brien in the canon. Building on that foundation, this lecture will bring more recent theoretical approaches to the fiction, including posthumanism and new materialism, with a focus on her controversial 2002 novel, In the Forest. O’Brien’s fiction draws on a childhood spent in a rural landscape alive with fairy lore and mythology, and her consistent representation of the distinction between the animate and the inanimate as tenuous is at once distinctly Irish and richly receptive to posthuman analysis.

Dr. Maureen O’Connor is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English in University College Cork and the Travelling Visiting Professor in Irish Studies 2023/24 at the University of Würzburg.
She has published widely in the field of Irish Studies and has delivered keynote lectures in India, Japan, Austria, Spain, and France. She is the author of The Female and the Species: The Animal in Irish Women’s Writing (2010), considered by Nathaniel Myers to be ‘arguably the first substantial engagement with the intersections of Irish Studies and Animal Studies’. She has co-edited a number of field-defining volumes, including, with Derek Gladwin, a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, ‘Irish Studies and the Environmental Humanities’ (2018); with Kathryn Laing and Sinéad Mooney, of Edna O’Brien: New Critical Perspectives (2006); with Lisa Colletta, of Wild Colonial Girl: Essays on Edna O’Brien (2006); and, with Tadhg Foley, of Ireland and India: Colonies, Culture, and Empire (2006).
Claire Bracken has said of Dr. O’Connor’s work that its ‘ecocritical analysis opens up space for new ways of thinking about embodied feminine subjectivity in contemporary cultural analysis’. Her latest book, Edna O’Brien and the Art of Fiction, published by Bucknell University Press in 2021, has been described by the novelist Éilís Ní Dhuibhne as ‘a wonderful book, indispensable for anyone with an interest in Edna O’Brien or contemporary Irish literature’. She is currently writing a volume for inclusion in the Cork University Press series, ‘Síreacht: Longings for Another Ireland’, on the topic of Animals.

If you are interested in participating in this hybrid event, please sign up by sending an email with the subject line “O'CONNOR” to by November 29, 2023. Please include your full name and affiliation or address and specify whether you would like to attend in person or online. All participants who would like to participate online will receive a zoom link to the event in due time. 
Please note that the above given email address is used solely for registration purposes. If you want to contact ISWÜ, please use the contact information given below.


Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ)

Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann & Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann