Friday, 7 April 2017

FREE ONLINE Irish Literary Supplement March 1982 - September 2016

Another new, free resource...

Go to...

You will find a link there to the Irish Literary Supplement, and the full archive of issues from 1982 onwards...

'Title: Irish Literary Supplement
Available online: 1 March 1982 - 1 September 2016 (70 issues) The Irish Literary Supplement is a twice-yearly publication of reviews of books of Irish interest and occasional articles and poetry. Founded in 1982 and edited by Robert G. Lowery, the ILS has been published in association with Boston College’s Irish Studies Program since 1986. Digitization of issues through 2016 was funded by the Brian P. Burns endowment, John J. Burns Library.'

There is more detailed information about the project in 'Irish Studies', the newsletter of the Center for Irish Programs, Boston College - and a web search will find more online discussion, no doubt...

So, there we have the discourse of Irish Studies, from 1982 onwards, in an archive, in a database - we should be able to find a way to ask it questions.  Like, I wonder when the word 'diaspora' was first used in its pages?

Patrick O'Sullivan

FREE BOOK Briody, The Irish Folklore Commission 1935-1970: History, ideology, methodology

The link, below, should take you to Mícheál Briody's lovely and important book about The Irish Folklore Commission, and Séamus Ó Duilearga (James Hamilton Delargy) - now freely available on OAPEN...

The Irish Folklore Commission 1935-1970: History, ideology, methodology Briody, Mícheál Finnish Literature Society / SKS, Helsinki

The OAPEN Library contains freely accessible academic books, mainly in the area of humanities and social sciences.  Mícheál Briody's book has heretofore been a little difficult to get hold of, but - now - there it is, freely available online at OAPEN.

The blurb on the web site has clearly been written by someone who knows the book, and knows the background.

The Irish Folklore Commission was always underfunded.  Nevertheless it shaped how Irish folk cultures should be studied, collected and preserved - very important, in my view, was the decision to seek mentors and methodology, not in the USA or in England, but in northern Europe, especially in Sweden, but also in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Germany.  There was also in that time, in those disciplines, in those countries, an understandable privileging of the oral - which is of interest to those of us who study the orality/literacy interface...

In something that I drafted recently, thinking about Irish Emigrant Letters, I wrote this...

"The approach of the Irish Folklore Commission privileged the study of the people of rural Ireland, mostly the rural poor. This focus on the ‘ideal peasant’ seems to come from at least three directions. First, there is Ireland’s use of the ‘ideal peasant’ for political and literary purposes (Hirsch 1991 and Markey 2006). Second, there is the guidance, philosophical and methodological, given to the founder of the Irish Folklore Commission, J. H. Delargy (Séamus Ó Duilearga) by wider European scholarship, especially by ethnography, and especially by his mentors in Sweden, Finland and Estonia (Briody 2007). And third, there is that curious imbalance within scholarship, especially within European scholarship, which privileges the oral above the written. There are many ways to unpack that imbalance – but the simplest might be to cite Derrida’s critique of Levi Strauss (Petrovi 2004). (We are not the first to have brought Derrida to a crux within Irish scholarship. See Duddy (1996). The exception to this pattern is of course the privileging of writings in the Irish language by representatives of the rural Irish, notably the Blasket Islands autobiographies (Quigley 2003 and Ross 2003).  It remains a strange imbalance – a privileging of ‘the people’, or the ‘peasantry’, which ignores the people’s own writings, and when, as Arnold Schrier points out, the vast majority of the people were literate (Schrier 1958, 22). And all these methodologies involve the creating of secondary texts, notes taken by interviewers, transcriptions of tape recordings..."

Arnold Schrier is not mentioned in Mícheál Briody's book, but the Irish Folklore Commission were helpful partners in his study of Irish Emigrant Letters, and his rescue of the letters themselves, the material letter.  See Schrier, A. (1997). Ireland and the American Emigration, 1850-1900. Dufour Editions.
Originally 1958, but my copy is the reprint.

And Arnold Schrier's pioneering work was developed further, and expanded, by Kerby Miller, in books and many articles - and many acts of kindness to younger scholars.  We have a tradition.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Monday, 14 November 2016

Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Mendeley Again

Major crisis with my bibliographic software - which is, of course, an extension of my brain...

I have long, loyally, supported Jabref - which is free, open source, sturdy and forgiving.  Jabref is a graphic interface for a Bibtex file.  We pick up our reference material from all sorts of places, with all sorts of encoding junk slotted in to it - but with Jabref we were able simply to ignore the junk, and stay true to UTF-8.  Until now...

This makes it sound as if I know what I am doing...  I am just a loyal, trusting, naive user...

Generally it is nice to see open source projects get active.  But...  A recent upgrade by the Jabref team has created major 'special character' problems.  'Special characters', like the special characters you find in Irish family names.  French family names.  Spanish family names.  Portuguese family names...

And this happened at a bad point in my backup regime...  I had let my guard down, I admit it...  Jabref, sturdy and forgiving...

Suddenly I had a bibliographic database that was full of visible coding junk.  I do keep back up routes open - through NYU I have access to Refworks, and I keep accounts open with Zotero and with Mendeley.

So, after thought, I took my Bibtex file into Mendeley, for a tidy up - and have rediscovered why I dislike Mendeley...  First the good thing...  That big clean screen has made tidying out the junk easy.  My database needed a good preen anyway...

But Mendeley, Mendeley...

It has all been said before...

And this, by singer Kit Nelson, is really good - chewing those 30s/40s vowels...

Interesting to see, from the comments on Kit Nelson's page, that people now do this monologue for drama examinations...

Mendeley...  Mendeley...  Secretive and silent...

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Listening to BBC Radio 4, Archive on 4, Tolkien the Lost Recordings

Tolkien:  the Lost Recordings was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday August 6 2016, and is still available on the BBC web site...

The Producers are Anna Scott-Brown and Adam Fowler.  It is an Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

Well, yes, I now feel that, as far as this project is concerned, my work is done.

Nunc dimittis - cue image of Oxford towers, and plaintive music. 

And on to the next rescue.

I thought that the programme worked very well, and that the decision to pitch it to the Tolkien scholars and the Tolkien enthusiasts was the right one.  So, for me, the calming discoveries were the contributions of Dimitra Fimi and Tom Shippey.  With that, and Stuart Lee's forthcoming article, we can now say that Leslie Megahey's 1968 film 'Tolkien in Oxford' has its appropriate place in Tolkien Studies.

The technical solutions to the presentation problems were fun - like the Joss Ackland character, the bemused and only slightly interested interlocutor.  It was like something from Louis MacNeice, and the glory days of radio 'features'.  Well done, Adam and Anna of Overtone...  Very brave...

But, of course, we have simply created or postponed yet further need to delve in archives.  So, yes, Leslie Megahey's 1968 film 'Tolkien in Oxford' now has its appropriate place in Tolkien Studies.  But do we now need a study of the place of that 1968 film 'Tolkien in Oxford' in Megahey Studies?

Somewhere in the Overtone archives, there is a bit where Patrick O'Sullivan outlines, so succinctly and elegantly, the cinematic techniques of Leslie Megahey - as discovered in 'Tolkien in Oxford' - and their development in the subsequent career.

But, as Tolkien said - or was it Marx? - we make history, but not in circumstances of our choosing...

Patrick O'Sullivan
August 2016

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Archive on 4, BBC Radio 4, Tolkien - the Lost Recordings

I have gathered and tidied this information, below, about the forthcoming Archive on 4 programme on BBC Radio 4, about the 1968 Leslie Megahey BBC film, 'Tolkien in Oxford'.  This Archive on 4 is an Overtone Productions Ltd. Programme for the BBC...

Regular readers will know that a number of us, led by Leslie Megahey, have worked to restore and mend the film, and to explore its place in Tolkien Studies.  My colleague, Dr. Stuart Lee, Oxford, is writing the academic article about the film and the background, and - as can be seen - he is a lead player in the Archive on 4 programme.  So, as regards this project, the work is done...

There is a delightful symmetry in bringing Joss Ackland into this project - I have remarked before on what a lovely job he did on the readings in the original 1968 film.  

One ring to rule them all...

Patrick O'Sullivan
Glucksman Ireland House, New York University

Tolkien - the Lost Recordings
Archive on 4
6 August 2016
8pm BBC Radio 4

Joss Ackland narrates a quest through BBC archives for unheard gems from JRR Tolkien, as Oxford Academic, Dr Stuart Lee, discovers the un-broadcast offcuts from an interview given by the author of the Lord of the Rings. 

Tolkien gave the interview for a BBC film in 1968, but only a tiny part of it was used in the broadcast programme. It was one of only a handful of recorded interviews he gave, and was to be his last. Dr Lee’s search for the un-broadcast rushes takes him to the depths of the BBC film archives, and back to the making of the original film: ‘Tolkien in Oxford.’

For the director, Lesley Megahey, only 23 at the time, this was his first film, and the one that launched a prestigious career. The programme reunites him with three others: researcher, Patrick O’Sullivan; Tolkien fan, Michael Hebbert - and critic Valentine Cunningham, who describes how he was brought in to be the voice of dissent challenging the burgeoning Tolkien cult spreading from America.

What emerges is a picture of a playful academic, whose fiction was little respected by adults at the time and looked down on as a lesser form of literature. But he is robustly defended by Professor Tom Shippey and remembered fondly by his colleague Dr Roger Highfield.

Stuart Lee presents the results of his search through the archives to Dr Dimitra Fimi who considers any new words from Tolkien’s mouth as ‘gold’. While, for Dr Lee, the real ‘dragon’s hoard’ is the privilege of hearing Tolkien in relaxed mode reflecting on his life as never before.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

And hello again,

At the beginning of September 2015 the team at Glucksman Ireland House negotiated a continuation for a further year of my Visiting Scholar relationship with New York University.  So, I work on - till at least Autumn 2016.

I am very grateful to Glucksman Ireland House and to New York University for this support. It has certainly made a difference to the quality of the work I have been able undertake over the past year, and gives me a certain amount of confidence in this new academic year.

So, my thanks to Anne Solari, Joe Lee, Marion Casey and the rest of the team. And I do value the long distance collegiality that they bring to the relationship. In that regard, I should especially mention Nicholas Wolf, whose words of encouragement are always welcome.

I see that Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, web site...

has me listed under 'Faculty'

- and they have grabbed from somewhere the Fiddler's Dog woodcut which has, somehow or other, become my logo...


Patrick O'Sullivan
September 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

And so farewell to

And so farewell to

Two semi-conscious entities, my own brain and the University of Bradford's computer system, have, quite independently, come to the same decision - it is time to close down my email address at the University of Bradford...

Which I have sometimes written as

This in an attempt to make O'Sullivan visible in an email address, after a discussion with the original email guy at the University of Bradford.

I will leave it to someone else to track the long discussions about apostrophes in email addresses, and in database entries...

The University's computer system has decided that I have 'left'.

I have been associated with the University of Bradford, in many different ways, since the 1980s.  I did an MA in Social and Community Work Studies at the University of Bradford - a very significant step.  Behind much of what I do, especially my confidence in developing an interdisciplinary approach, is the influence of that MA.

I have occasionally taught for the University of Bradford, within the Department of Applied Social Studies and the Department of Interdisciplinary Human Studies.  For some decades I was able to concentrate on the development of interdisciplinary Irish Diaspora Studies, using the University as a notional base.

In 1997 I founded the Irish Diaspora list, the email discussion forum for Irish Diaspora scholars throughout the world.  This was originally based at the University of Bradford, using the University's version of the Majordomo software. 

And I will leave it to someone else to write the history of Majordomo - though, at one point, I had to sit down and write a Guide to Majordomo, a piece of software you made work by sending emails to it...

In 2004 I moved the Irish Diaspora list to Jiscmail, the UK’s academic Listserv - Bradford's email address helped there.  Jiscmail's rules stipulate that at least one list 'owner' has to have an email address.

With the help of the technicians at Bradford and at Jiscmail, and friends at the University of Leeds, I was able to preserve the archives of the Irish Diaspora list.  Through many vicissitudes.  All now archived by the British Library, and by Jiscmail, and stored on discs held by the Glucksman Ireland House, NYU, and by the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, Omagh.

For a  while my Irish Diaspora Studies web site was hosted by the University of Bradford.  The original design and coding for that web site was by my then very young son, Dan.

Much of my work was done under the umbrella of the notional, ‘paper’, Irish Diaspora Research Unit at the University of Bradford.  Where the notional Irish Diaspora Research Unit was especially useful was when I wrote references, research reports, book reviews, acted as a clearing house for information, made connections and introductions, and so on.  We were thus of service to the wider Irish Diaspora Studies research community - we were instrumental in getting very large sums of money for other research projects and bodies.  It seems to be especially useful to funding bodies that we stood outside the fray.

It is easy to demonstrate – with page scans of books and articles – this connection, between Irish Diaspora Studies and the University of Bradford.  I often use as an example, of what can be done with limited resources to change the landscape, our intervention into the study of the Irish Diaspora in Latin America – we published and then further developed an online Bibliography, which allowed us to help and encourage scholars interested in that field.  Again, it is very easy to demonstrate this achievement, with page scans of books and articles giving thanks and acknowledgement.

But now the University of Bradford's computer system has ended that relationship, and I cannot see any easy or obvious way to restore it.  I no longer have any influential contacts within the University.  I would be struggling to find anyone who remembers who I used to be - let alone anyone willing to work with the University system to grant me a favour.

So we are in agreement, that computer and I – let it end.  I will leave this message on my blog at Fiddler's Dog, so that if you are looking for the entity formerly known as you can find me.

And I will leave it to someone else to raise and explore issues around the vast quantities of knowledge and research hidden behind universities' passwords and academic publishers' paywalls...  We paid for all that - why is not available to all of us, as a matter of course?  Can we not, very easily, imagine a better, and more democratic, use of resources?

Patrick O'Sullivan
August 2015