Flann in Prague


The III International Flann O’Brien Conference

Charles University, Prague, 16-19 September 2015


Keynote Speakers

Joseph Brooker (Birkbeck, University of London)

Catherine Flynn (University of California, Berkeley)

Brian Ó Conchubhair (University of Notre Dame)


Guest Writer

Kevin Barry (City of Bohane; winner of the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award)

Written at a time of profound transformation in post-independence Ireland and war-torn Europe, and displaying an acute awareness of the epochal changes bearing on modern notions of literature and the self, Flann O’Brien’s oeuvre offers a sustained engagement with the  representation of cultural, political, and personal metamorphosis. This is a body of writing in which the human always bears the potential to be radically remade in the forms of horses, bicycles, and trains; in which genre, language, and literary form are constantly reorganised and refashioned; in which a programme of pseudonymity presents the comic writer as a master of  disguise and identity as a matter of constant flux.

At Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference, the organisers propose to build on the current sea change in O’Brien studies to foster a scholarly and critical debate dedicated to these themes of metamorphosis in the writer’s work. At stake will be the ways in which O’Brien’s English and Irish language novels, short stories, column-writing, non-fiction, teleplays, and theatrical work:

  • Test the limits and possibilities of identity, hybridity, & concepts of post-humanity;
  • Engage and transform cultural, political, & economic upheaval at home and abroad;
  • Process radical paradigm shifts in the sciences, from Darwinian evolution theory to the “Mollycule Theory” of quantum physics;
  • Explore (anti-)modernist reconstructions of myth, whether Irish or Ovidian;
  • Attend to linguistic, generic, and formal mutations, as well as the resonances between metamorphosis, metaphor, and metafiction;
  • Present shifting views of himself, his own writing, and the figure of the Author;
  • Are transformed in the acts of reception, rewriting, translation, & adaptation;
  • Are opened up for new readings by genetic analyses of the vast and critically underanalysed collections of his works in progress (correspondence, manuscripts, drafts) housed at Boston College, Southern Illinois University, & University of Texas at Austin;
  • Are amenable to new comparative readings with Prague’s sons Franz Kafka and Karel Čapek, as well as other modernist writers and movements of transformation, from Jarry & Joyce, Borges & Beckett, to the Absurdists, Futurists, & Surrealists.

Abstracts: If you would like to propose a paper (not exceeding 20 minutes), or panel (maximum 3 speakers) please submit your title and an abstract of 250 words accompanied by a short biographical sketch to viennacis.anglistik@univie.ac.at by 1 March 2015.

Ondřej Pilný (Charles University, Prague)

Paul Fagan (University of Vienna)

Ruben Borg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)