Am currently in Glasgow for the Spaces of (Dis)location conference.
It’s far, far warmer than I’d anticipated at 26 degrees, the University of Glasgow has a beautiful campus, and the conference has been wonderfully interesting so far.

Walking around yesterday, I found a beautiful park and a fantastic coffee-bookshop.

My paper is tomorrow, but I feel confident about it. Hopefully it’s not a misleading or false feeling!

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Spaces of (Dis)Location Conference

I’m very pleased to say that I’ll be giving a paper at the Spaces of (Dis)Location Conference in Glasgow later this month.

My paper is titled: “Place of Names: Depictions of Minneapolis in Louise  Erdich’s The Antelope Wife”  and the programme for the entire conference can be found here: Programme.

I’m really looking forward to discussing the various depictions of the urban landscape of Minneapolis- and the other papers look to be very interesting as well.


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Final Conference Post

Final Conference Post

A collection of twitter and blog posts from and about the conference can be found here:

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Panel 5a – Excavating the Buried Past: Reimagining the Nineteenth Century

Panel 5a – Excavating the Buried Past: Reimagining the Nineteenth Century

Chair: Ron Callan

Dara Downey:

“I Must Have Died …”: Post-Mortem Speech in the Uncanny Tales of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and Harriet Prescott Spofford

Interesting point that most ghost stories do grant a voice to the dead; the focus in the stories is on the feelings and actions of the living.

Downey begins with Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.

“Death is dumb as life is deaf”- wonderful end of a short story.

“The Amber Gods” by Harriet Prescott Spofford.
Downey praises the narrative voice of this short story.

In both texts, the dead women experience a freeing sensation post-mortem and the idea of time being stopped for the dead female narrators whilst continuing for the living, is an interesting shared theme.

However, though Phelps’ character eventually goes on to leave the earth, Spofford’s character does not.


Todd Mealy

A Political Alternative: William Howard Day’s Underground Railroad

Mealy begins by explaining the meaning of the term “underground railroad“.

– Day launched the first black American newspaper “The Aliened American”.

– the phrase becomes an irritant to the Southern slave owners

– fascinating account of how Lewis Williams managed to escape slavery,  who was recaptured and then managed to escape again thanks to Day’s help.

– Day enjoyed provoking the South

– personal liberty laws were created to protect free black slaves and abolitionists who refused to help catch runaway slaves

– therefore people could claim that the state personal liberty laws protected them from the ramifications of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

– Day came to Dublin and Belfast to fundraise

– $7,000 were raised in Ireland.


Kate Kirwan

Easy A: Repositioning Hester Prynne in Contemporary American Fiction

– Hester Prynne’s name is often used as shorthand for improper or immoral behaviour, despite the character’s redemption in The Scarlet Letter.

– arguable America’s first feminest: she guards the identities of both her husband and lover, maintains financial independance, and is a single mother.

– Kirwan details the various texts which use The Scarlet Letter.

– the modern versions of Hestor Prynne help refigure her as Hawthorn intended: as a woman who made a mistake and yet was able to transcend that mistake.

– Kirwan finishes with a statement that to use Hester Prynne to symbolise promescuity is to misuse and misconstrue Hawthorn’s intention.


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Politics and Policy Panel Questions

Question 1: Gavin Wilke – Do you thinnk the reports by Walter Kronkite, regarding Johnson’s re-election capmaign, had a profound influence on American history.

A: Kronkite became subjective in his reporting, influencing public opinion. Once Johnson knew he had lost the “hearts and minds” of the American public, he did not seek re-election.Emphasised thee powwer of television in the United States.

Q: Constitutional ammendments within each state. How can the Constitution be made constitutional?

A: Debate within states about each state’s constitution, or constitutionality.



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Ivan McLaughlin – A New World, A New American Foreign Policy: The Carter Administration and the Nicaraguan Revolution

Nicaragua and the legacy of the Vietnam War during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Vietnam syndrome influenced Carter admin to pursue a non-intervetionist policy. Carter wanted economic diplomacy with Nicaragua, while the CIA argued for aggressive economic sanctions, and to pursue all means of diminishing Cuba’s influence in Latin America.

Carter promoted “Global human rights.” A kind of American universalism.

Pedro Jaoquin Chamorro, editor of Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa was murdered. U.S. deos not intervene.

National Palace take-over, August 1978. Samosa’s regime.

U.S. led mediation process was seen as too dependant on Latin American cooperation.


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Bryce Taylor – The Unconstitutional Constitution: Re-Examining the Generational Binding of the United States Sovereign

The Constitution is essentially unconstitutional. A binding legal document that is over 200 years old and drafted by a tiny elite. Does the Constitution have any authority, philosophically, legally, to seceding generations?

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison -says laws ought to have a “natural expiration date.” “The earth belongs in usufruct to the living, that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.”

Asks; did Jefferson’s views of the Constitution change after he became president? Jefferson’s question, (of the federalists) “what is to prevent them from creating perpetual debt?”

19th Century’s understanding of natural law/rights. Natural rights “were understood to be subject to natural law.” Natural rights are distinct from acquired rights. “To protect natutral liberty civil law was instituted.”

The Constitution is interpreted between 1790 and 1820s in terms of it’s aplicability to “natural law.”

Lysander Spoooner – an abolitionist lawyer – argued 1: the only authority the Constiitution maintains is between “Man and man and it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most only to be a contract between persons living eighty years ago.”

2: Of those who sigend the Constitution what percentage of the populace did they represent? Eg. blacks, women

He proposes a constitution by which people are willing to be personally responsible.


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