Eric Lewis, PhD English Student and Gender Studies Graduate Minor Student
“In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis”:
Trams, Informants, and the Experience of Harassment in the Colonized City
Abstract: Public transportation is an integral aspect of urban life for many, but despite its convenience, it entails a number of dangers for those who use it. James Joyce’s fiction, particularly the “Wandering Rocks” episode of Ulysses, represents and protests some of these dangers. Specifically, “Wandering Rocks” addresses the anxiety and potential harms imposed upon colonized persons and women by informants and prurient men. Both parties are in positions of power wherein they may determine the official truth of anything they witness. The informant may expose a fellow Dubliner to arrest or assassination, and a man may make an unwanted but licit advance on a woman. These dangers are everywhere in the colonized city, but they are emphasized in the space inside the tram, where one is temporarily trapped in a confined space with anyone else who happens to use this public amenity. The narration of “Wandering Rocks” not only resembles informants’ reports, alerting the reader to their threatening existence, but also pointedly refuses to identify any informants. In this way, the narrative imposes uncertainty and paranoia on the reader, forcing empathy with the oppressed characters at the heart of the novel. In this workshop, I will discuss political concerns regarding public transportation which are equally applicable to early-twentieth-century trams and today’s buses and subways in addition to examining the potential political operations of literature.
Bio: Eric Lewis is a first-year doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include anti-colonial modernisms, political protest, and rhetorics of literature.
February 20 - 119 O'Shaughnessy 11:00am-Noon
In order to advance the program’s commitment to inter-disciplinary research and inquiry into the subject of gender, the Gender Studies Program is pleased to announce an upcoming series of research workshops. The events will include presentations by advanced undergraduates majoring in Gender Studies as well as graduate students and faculty members from a variety of departments who work in the area of gender and sexuality. The workshop will begin with the week’s presenter giving a brief lecture on his or her current research in the field, followed by a seminar-style discussion.