March has snuck up on me as I become more involved in my life in Ireland. My scholarly life is blossoming as I work on the dreaded dissertation, and Dr. Kiberd has told me that I’m on track as far as deadlines go. He also informed me that my interpretation of Daniel Corkery is shocking (I said that Corkery alluded to sodomy in a short story, which is apparently not the general interpretation of his work) and also impressively bold. I am preparing for a conference on Deleuze that I am helping to organize at UCD. Scholars of postmodern literature will be coming from all over Ireland, and it’s really exciting to be part of the preparations. I have never helped with a scholarly conference before this experience, and I hope that the conference will be a huge success.
This past month has been busy, as I have traveled twice to Northern Ireland. I especially enjoyed going to Derry, because Victoria and I got to go to the first Irish production of Beauty and the Beast. I saw a preview of it on RTE, and so it was exciting to get to go to the musical and see it in person. We also went hiking with Aaron, and we got to see two campuses of the University of Ulster. This trip showed us that universities in Northern Ireland look very similar to ones in the Republic. A few days later, I attended the Belfast trip, which was certainly an educational experience. I know very little about Northern Ireland, and most of the literature I study was written before there was a Northern Ireland, so I was surprised to find out about the complicated political climate in the North. I was able to accompany UUP candidate Michael Copeland, as he canvassed on election day, and I got to see the assembly chambers at Stormont. These were experiences that many people in the Republic of Ireland will never get to have, and some of my Irish friends were curious to learn about the political culture in Belfast, and my interpretation of it. I especially enjoyed the play To Be Sure, particularly getting to meet the writer/director, who was interested in hearing about my tutelage under Frank McGuinness. I am also hoping to see Salome this month at the Gate, because it is an Oscar Wilde play that I am using in an essay for my course.
I will be traveling to Morocco next week with a class from Northern Oklahoma College, who are studying the political climate in Spain and Morocco. Hopefully, we will also get to ride a camel, and go to Casablanca. These are my two small goals for Morocco. I also want to avoid riding the ferry in the Mediterranean, although I think I will inevitably have to take the ferry. I am leery of seasickness because I fell victim to the salmonella poisoning outbreak that was only supposed to hit the US—unfortunately, my grandmother shipped some peanut butter to me before the jars were recalled. What’s worse is that the nausea did not start until the Bushmills distillery tour during the Belfast trip, and I did not know what the culprit was until my poor grandmother called to tell me that she had sent me a suspicious jar of peanut butter. It has taught me that no matter where you are, if you insist on eating American food, you will always be an American.
The highlight, though, of my Ireland experience so far has been traveling to beautiful places like Galway, the Aran Islands, the Giant’s Causeway, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The breathtaking views I have seen at these places have made me love Ireland, which I so often dismiss as being just a cloudy, gray, tiny place. Instead, Ireland is full of brilliant colors and untamed space—all the idealism that goes into the concept of the “Emerald Isle” has a real foundation. I would never get the same idea of the sublime and inconceivable if I had not come to Ireland, where a small space becomes an endless expanse.