Next week I’m off to the Locating the Gothic Festival and Conference in Limerick. I’m presenting a paper on memory, narrative and identity in Maguire’s only gothic novel Lost. I’ve always had an interest in the gothic and the monstrous, but it has been quite a while since I’ve presented research in this area. I’ve been struggling a little with articulating my argument for this paper. In fact, a logical and coherent flow of argument is something I’m struggling with in general at the moment. Content and analysis have always been my strengths, and I still have a good eye (or ear?) for language and close textual analysis. My issue has always been effectively communicating the implications and outcomes of that analysis.
I’m hoping that the general advice from one of my supervisors to get the theory down first will help, so I’m currently doing some of the groundwork on memory, the self and the gothic. I can highly recommend Stephen Bruhm’s work on the Contemporary Gothic and Nicola King’s Memory, Narrative, Identity.
Leaving aside from the usual pre-paper writing troubles, the conference programme looks really good. There are a number of parallel sessions but so far I don’t see too many where I want to split myself in half. I might not get to see all of the papers that I want but that just means that I’ll have to try and catch people in the coffee breaks. One thing about being part of an “offbeat” academic community, like the gothic or folklore, is that it’s small enough still that most people know one another and conferences tend to be more friendly than competitive. Either that or, like the stories of having our heads flushed down the toilet when we got to high school, tales of the hostile academe have been greatly exaggerated.
There are a number of things going on at the same time as the conference that I’m sad to be missing. Oddly enough some of them are also gothic festivals and events such as the Gothic Manchester Festival and events associated with the Terror and Wonder exhibition at the British Library. I suppose that’s just the kind of thing one should expect from attending gothic events in October.
However, I’m also missing the Dundee Literary Festival for the first time in many years. As I used to be part of the team that organised the festival, this is especially odd. On the plus side I get to going in via Twitter and Facebook as the events are live-tweeted, I’m especially excited with a new event this year – the Festival Bookclub. They have chosen to (re)read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein because of Shelly’s connection to Dundee and as it fits in so well with the theme of Locating the Gothic I’ll be joining in from the conference on Friday 24th October via the medium of Twitter using the #festbookclub hashtag.
I’ll also be selectively live tweeting some of the panels at the conference and of course sharing some of the sights and sounds of Limerick. You can see these from Wednesday 22nd – Sunday 26th over at twitter.com/kar_took