CfP: Irish Literature and Periodical Culture, KU Leuven.

Since the emergence of periodical studies as a distinct discipline some decades ago, the importance of literary magazines in shaping and influencing literary culture has often been demonstrated. Magazines have come to be recognised as test-tubes, taste-makers and nurseries for new, burgeoning talent. They have allowed scholars to map networks of influence and literary coteries, to trace forgotten writers and to question and broaden existing canons. The role of literary magazines in fostering innovation, mediating new literary trends or defending the status quo makes them very valuable for studying developments in literary traditions as well as charting a writer’s career.

Periodicals also played an important role in the production, mediation, dissemination and reception of Irish literature. Think of the way mid-nineteenth-century magazines like The Dublin Magazine and The Nation fostered the work of William Carleton and Jane Wilde; how American periodicals such as The Pilot or the American Ecclesiastical Review reprinted Irish local colour fiction for an Irish-North American readership in the 1880s and 1890s; or how the literature of the Gaelic Revival was disseminated through the Irish Review and The Irish Monthly. Popular story papers, too, have been shown to play a role in the creation of a successful strand of popular Irish fiction in the early-twentieth century, while the more serious mid-century periodicals like The Bell and The Irish Statesman sought to create an Irish national literature in the decades after independence. Meanwhile, periodicals such as Lagan and Rann carved out a space for writing from the North. In the 1970s, a new generation of poets gathered under the Irish-language magazine Innti and in our own time, magazines such as The Stinging Fly, Gorse and Winter Papers have been instrumental in the current flourishing of Irish short fiction.

By exploring the intersections between Irish writers and the (transnational) periodical press, this conference aims to further scrutinise the ways in which periodical culture in Ireland has impacted writers’ careers, codified the development of literary genres and conventions, and influenced the course of Irish literary history and the canon more generally. We invite papers and panel proposals on subjects related to the connections between Irish literature and the periodical market in the broadest sense: from early miscellanies and nineteenth-century reviews to popular story papers and modernist little magazines, across all genres. 

Topics may include but are not limited to: 

  • The periodical presence of Irish writers, both within and outside of Ireland 
  • The functions, forms and characteristics of literary periodicals
  • The relation between periodicals and specific literary genres 
  • Periodicals and book reviewing
  • The periodical and its readers
  • Periodicals and canon formation
  • Gendered periodical spaces
  • Periodicals and marginalised voices
  • The relation between (illustrated) periodicals and other media forms
  • Materiality and literary hermeneutics within magazine contexts
  • Periodicals and networks of literary alliances, coteries and enmities 
  • The role of literary editors 
  • Periodicals and genre hybridity 
  • Tensions between culture and commerce; literary and popular forms of literature; or regionalism and cosmopolitanism in Irish literary magazines
  • Periodicals and literary collaboration
  • Periodicals and the digital

Confirmed plenary speakers

  • Professor Frank Shovlin (University of Liverpool)
  • Professor Fionnuala Dillane (University College Dublin)
  • Professor Stephanie Rains (Maynooth University)

The conference is organised by the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies and the English Literature Department at the University of Leuven.

Please send a 250-word abstract along with a short biographical note to Phyllis Boumans and Elke D’hoker by 1 May 2022 (extended to 15 June). Papers should not exceed 20 minutes. Please submit your proposal in Word-format only. Contingent on the current health and international travel situation, the conference will be held in the Irish College in Leuven, where accommodation is also available.