• 110 Myles: Flann O'Brien at a Distance: ONLINE SYMPOSIUM

    110 Myles: Flann O'Brien at a Distance: ONLINE SYMPOSIUM

    Posted by Paul Fagan on 2021-03-17

110 Myles:

Flann O’Brien at a Distance


An online symposium on the occasion of

the 10th Anniversary of the International Flann O'Brien Society


24–27 July 2021




Nicholas Allen (University of Georgia)

‘Flann O'Brien at the Border: Readings, Forms, and Futures’


Julie Bates (Trinity College Dublin)

‘Writing with Air in The Third Policeman


Ondřej Pilný (Charles University, Prague)

‘Myles na gCopaleen at the Gate’




2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the International Flann O’Brien Society’s founding at the 100 Myles centenary conference in Vienna. This decade has seen a remarkable transformation in Flann O’Brien studies, from a series of significant book publications to the establishment of a biennial conference series and the founding of an open-access journal. Our perspective on O’Brien’s writing and complex legacy has changed significantly through the theoretical and cultural contextual analyses produced by the Society’s research, collaboration, and publication networks. Recent scholarship has done much to dispel the notion of O’Brien as an apolitical jester, bringing to the fore aspects of his role as a critic of institutions and interrogator of the body as a site of public policy and ideological contestation. Less the wasted talent or lonely innovator of previous critical incarnations, O’Brien’s wider body of work has come to be appreciated for its responsiveness to a diversity of high/middle/lowbrow genres. Through these interventions, O’Brien has emerged as an important figure in mid-20th century modernism, situated at the intersection of bureaucratic and journalistic institutions, local performance and broadcast networks, and international literary communities.

This online symposium proposes to turn the Society’s anniversary to good account by reflecting on where we find ourselves at this current juncture in O’Brien studies, and what possibilities are opening up for the future of the field. The conference’s rubric of distance also positions us to reflect on the realities of the moment and the circumstances that determine that the gathering will be a virtual one. O’Brien’s writing is itself marked by concerns with spatial, temporal, and emotional distance, and themes of virtuality, borders and disease. The symposium will provide the occasion to reflect more fully on these aspects of the oeuvre and their relation to the present moment.

Proposals are welcome for live or recorded online talks (max 20 minutes) on any topic relevant to the symposium theme, but especially reflections on the following components and dynamics in Flann O’Brien’s writing and reception:

— Distance as a theoretical concept

— Distance as a social and phenomenological condition

— Spatial coordinates and temporal perspectives

— Anamorphosis, presentism, anachronism

— Virtuality

— Embodiment and disembodiment

— Closed and open borders

— Epistolary poetics

— The transnational circulation of texts and ideas

— Immediacy and mediation

— Pandemics and illnesses

— Personality and impersonality

— Literary Decorum

— Close reading, surface reading, disinterested reading

— 21st-century perspectives (the nonhuman, ecocriticism, the posthuman, the Anthropocene, climate change, etc.)

— Changes in the fields of Flann O’Brien studies, Irish studies, modernist studies


Send talk or panel proposals of max 500 words (with a short bionote) to the organisers maebh.long@waikato.ac.nz, paul.fagan@univie.ac.at, and ruben.borg@mail.huji.ac.il by 4 June 2021.


Given the online nature of the symposium, the organisers will attempt to organise the schedule in such a way as to optimise involvement from speakers across time zones.

Selected talks will be published in a special issue of The Parish Review: Journal of Flann OBrien Studies (open-access at the Open Library of Humanities).


Conference hashtag: #110Myles

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