Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Introduction

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Introduction

Article excerpt

Introduction

The scene opens with a long shot of Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, addressing an audience of EU delegates from a platform. The camera tracks slowly to a close-up of Rajoy's face beaming with self-satisfaction while he recites the exceptional macroeconomic data in Spain. Cut to a crane shot of a busy commercial street in the centre of any Spanish city. The camera descends and focuses on a young man, kneeling on the floor, hands crossed in prayer, begging for money and food. Then it pans to another beggar, then another, then another, then another.... All the while, Rajoy's voice-over is heard, now spelling out the wonders of the Spanish government's economic measures: labour market reforms, cuts on education, health, social services, funds for culture, etc. Cut to extreme close-up of newspaper headline: "The breach between the rich and the poor has widened enormously from 2007 to 2012: 13 million people are neighbouring the poverty line in Spain". Cut to medium close-up of a woman working at her computer, absorbed in her keyboard and screen while she writes a paper on the use of the definite article in San Juan de la Cruz's poetry or on a deconstructive reading of Harry Potter novels, for that matter. Fade out.

As every year since its foundation (2001), in 2013 the Spanish Association for Irish Studies (AEDEI) celebrated its International Conference (University of Caceres, 30 May-1 June) under the heading "Voice and Discourse in the Irish Context". Scholars from European and American Universities participated in this successful academic and social event, very effectively organised by Carolina Amador and her team. Three are the conference happenings that I would like to highlight here. First, Nuala NiChonchuir's talk on her first novel, You (2010). As suggested by its title, the novel opts for second person narration, a rare choice that may sound awkward to the reader and is difficult to sustain convincingly for a whole narrative (authors like Edna O'Brien--A Pagan Place (1970)--and Joseph O'Connor--Ghost Light (2010)--have tried this narrative option as well, with better results, in my view, in the case of O'Connor). NiConchuir's "experiment" seems to have connected with readers, as proved by the excellent reviews of the novel. In the second place, His and Hers (2009), a film by director Ken Wardrop, inspired in his mother's life which explores how we share life's journey with the opposite sex; after watching the film the conference participants and attendants had the opportunity of discussing it with the director in a public interview. Finally, famous Irish actor Denis Rafter performed his new one-man show based on the miserable last days of Oscar Wilde's life, entitled "Beloved Sinner". As part of the social programme of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies (AEDEAN) 37th International Conference, Rafter performed as well the play The Irish Bululu in the University of Oviedo, 13 November 2013. In this piece, Rafter traces Irish cultural and literary influences on his work as actor by interpreting Shakespeare's songs, soliloquies and sonnets interspersed with Irish songs, stories and dance. In November as well, the University of Granada hosted a two-hour seminar, "Women and Literature in Ireland: Two Irish Poets in Conversation", where poets Gerry Murphy and Liz O'Donoghue read some of their most representative poems and discussed their work: main themes and literary influences, relationship between nationalism and gender, and the surfacing of female writes on the Irish literary scene. The recent vitality of Irish theatre and performance arts reached Spain last year with the staging of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997) (El cojo de Inishmaan), the first play in McDonagh's The Aran Islands Trilogy. The Spanish production was directed by Gerardo Vera, a prestigious figure on the Spanish scene. The play ran first for six weeks (18 Dec.--26 Jan.) in the Teatro Espanol (Madrid) and is now being shown in the Teatro Infanta Isabel (Madrid, 12 March--20 April, 2014) to both audience and critical acclaim. …

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