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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Inventions of the Text Seminar Series

Inventions of the Text complements our Research Seminar series. Inventions is organised by a team of postgraduate researchers, and combines papers by academics from Durham and beyond with presentations by PhD students. Seminars run roughly every couple of weeks during term time, with around eight or nine events a year. After each seminar, attendees are welcome to socialise with the speaker(s) over dinner. They are generally for University staff and students, although sometimes open to the public.

Forthcoming Inventions of the Text Seminars

The Defacement of Irish Modernism

16th November 2016, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Barry Shiels

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

All welcome. After the seminar, we will head to the Victoria Inn (next to Hallgarth House) for further conversation and drinks with the speaker. You are also welcome to join the speaker for dinner afterwards, but please reply to by Nov 12 to let the organiser know.


In this paper I offer my take on the question of what a red face means in literature; specifically, given the odd position of Irish-ness within the history of English sentiment, I want to think about what an Irish red face means. To do this I shall consider the discursive history of the blush as it has made itself felt on the different faces of Irish modernism.

Today, when we consider the face at all, we tend to think not so much about traditional portraiture, and more about technology -Facebook, Face-time, face recognition- as well as reiterations of older debates regarding the status of the veil and the gender politics of facial exposure. Such contemporary concerns, however, remain inexorably tied to questions of reading, where the face communicates itself as plot device and character function, signifying age, race, class, and the lines of desire that create the temporality of a narrative. Through exploring the figure of the blush, I shall argue that there is a progressive defacement at work in the canonical texts of Irish modernism, that there are cultural reasons for this, but also aesthetic and narrative consequences which continue to be of relevance to how we read.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars