Letters are a constant presence in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Most of the principal characters and many of the minor characters are engaged in composing, sending, receiving, and reading letters throughout the novel. The paper studies the exchange of letters among Leopold, Molly, and Milly and argues that the way Milly controls her epistolary exchanges with her parents reveals that she enjoys more financial and intellectual autonomy than previous Joyce scholarship has acknowledged. My paper refers to Jacques Lacan’s “Seminar on The Purloined Letter” to understand the relation the subjects share with each other within the web of letters. It demonstrates that the triangular structures that Lacan designs between sender and recipient are replicated among Leopold, Molly, and Milly. Milly’s postcard to Molly is a residue of her letter to Leopold and by controlling the trajectory of the signifier, she also governs her relationship with her parents on her own terms.
Gender Studies Graduate Research Workshop
“All the world’s in want and is writing a letters”: Molly and Milly’s Epistolary Communication and Exilic Imagination in James Joyce’s Ulysses
Presenter: Shinjini Chattopadhyay (PhD English)
Shinjini Chattopadhyay is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the Department of English, University of Notre Dame, pursuing minors in Irish Studies and Gender Studies. She did her MA and MPhil from Jadavpur University, India. She works on British and Irish modernism and global Anglophone literature. Her dissertation investigates how the modernist urban imaginary transforms in contemporary literature. Her articles have been published in European Joyce Studies and Joyce Studies in Italy.