Dipartimento di Lingue Letterature e Culture Straniere
Università Roma Tre
June 19-21 2013

IFOBS is proud to announce that a three-day conference on the Works of Brian O’Nolan will be hosted by the Department of Comparative Literatures, at the Università Roma Tre under the title ‘Problems with Authority: The II International Flann O’Brien Conference’ from June 19-21, 2013

It is an exciting time for the expanding field of Brian O’Nolan scholarship. Despite the significant increase in events and publications since his centenary in 2011–and even, perhaps, because of them–a great deal of work remains to be done in exploring O’Nolan’s under-analysed minor texts and in closing the many critical gaps in the academic record. At the centre of these critical projects are explorations of O’Nolan’s texts as fertile territory for mediating between conflicting Authorities: between traditional & modern scripts, local & international perspectives, and between avant-garde & conservative approaches to the authorities of science, history, and literary tradition. With these issues in mind, the conference aims to address questions of canonicity and authority in O’Nolan’s work.


Jed Esty
(University of Pennsylvania)

Carol Taaffe
(Author of Ireland Through the Looking-Glass: Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen & Irish Cultural Debate)

Dirk Van Hulle
(University of Antwerp)


Mikel Murfi
(Director of John Duffy’s Brother)

Mark O’Halloran
(Star of John Duffy’s Brother, and screenwriter of Adam and Paul and Garage)

Julian Gough
(Author of Jude in Ireland and Jude in London)

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
(Author of Acts and Monuments and The Sun-Fish)

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh
(Author of Péacadh)

Aifric Mac Aodha
(Author of Gabháil Syrinx)

2013 sees the publication of collections of O’Nolan’s short stories (Neil Murphy & Keith Hopper, Dalkey Archive) and dramatic works (Daniel Jernigan, Dalkey Archive). As these collections give us greater access to a rich variety of overlooked texts in the O’Nolan literary canon, they also prompt and challenge us to broaden and retrace its borders. Indeed, given the amount of pseudonyms and apocryphal texts in play, we might ask whether these borders can ever be definitively drawn. Similarly, the vast collections of O’Nolan’s correspondence, manuscripts, and drafts housed in Illinois, Boston, and Texas — as well as the Irish Times’s online digital archive — have recently given rise to emerging fields of Genetic and Cultural Materialist approaches that seek to explore the borders of authorship and authority in O’Nolan’s ever-expanding oeuvre.

And while longer-running critical conversations continue to be finessed about the ways in which O’Nolan’s texts are shaped by towering 20th Century figures such as Joyce and Beckett (and the more local authorities of Church and State), the increasingly international contexts in which O’Nolan is being read have brought a new set of names to the table: from Calvino, Borges, and Kafka, to Nabokov, Danielewski and Bolaño. This international gaze brings with it other issues, such as the challenges of adaptation and translation, and the opportunities of exploring O’Nolan’s broader canon as a fertile ground for a range of critical perspectives, from Cultural Materialism, Queer Theory, and Feminism, to Metafiction, Genre Theory, and Deconstruction.

For more details... they emerge, including social programmes and accommodation and travel details visit our Society Facebook page or Event Facebook page, or simply come back to "The Parish Bulletin", the official news section of the IFOBS site.

We look forward to seeing you in Rome!

John McCourt (Università Roma Tre)
Ruben Borg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Paul Fagan (University of Vienna)

Keynote Speakers

Jed Esty is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Unseasonable Youth:  Modernism, Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development (Oxford, 2012) and of A Shrinking Island:  Modernism and National Culture in England (Princeton, 2004). With Joe Cleary and Colleen Lye, he coedited a 2012 special issue of MLQ on Peripheral Realisms; with Ania Loomba, Suvir Kaul, Antoinette Burton, and Matti Bunzl, he coedited Postcolonial Studies and Beyond (Duke 2005). He has published essays in Modern Fiction Studies, Victorian Studies, Modernism/Modernity, ELH, ALH, Contemporary Literature, Narrative, Novel, and the Yale Journal of Criticism. Esty is currently at work on a new project entitled Ages of Innocence: Culture and Literature from Pax Britannica to the American Century.

Carol Taaffe
teaches Irish literature for the Boston University Dublin Programme. She is the author of Ireland Through the Looking-Glass: Flann O’Brien, Myles na gCopaleen and Irish Cultural Debate (Cork UP, 2008) and articles on Flann O'Brien for Irish University Review, Canadian Journal of  Irish Studies, and the Four Courts Press collection ‘Is It About a Bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty-First Century. A regular contributor to The Dublin Review, Carol was also the co-editor, with Edwina Keown, of Irish Modernism: Origins, Contexts, Publics (Peter Lang, 2010) and the co-organiser of the 2011 'Flann O’Brien Centenary Conference'  in Trinity College Dublin.

Dirk Van Hulle
is Professor of English Literature at the University of Antwerp, where he directs the Centre for Manuscript Genetics. He is the current president of the European Society for Textual Scholarship, trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation and board member of the Samuel Beckett Society. Together with Mark Nixon, he is director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project and editor in chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. He is the editor of Beckett’s Company (Faber and Faber, 2009) and a member of the editorial board of Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui. He is the author of Textual Awareness (2004); Manuscript Genetics, Joyce’s Know-How, Beckett’s Nohow (2008); The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Stirrings Still/Soubresauts and Comment dire/what is the word (2011); and Samuel Beckett’s Library with Mark Nixon (Cambridge UP, 2013). He is currently working with Shane Weller on a genetic edition of Beckett’s L’Innommable / The Unnamable for the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (


Mikel Murfi is an award-winning actor and director for stage and film, trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris. A founding member of ‘Barabbas...The Company’, Murfi's stage roles include The Playboy of The Western World and The Tempest (The Abbey), Ionescu’s The Chairs (Blue Raincoat), and Enda Walsh’s The New Electric Ballroom (Druid), for which he won Best Supporting Actor at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. Murfi's on-screen roles include The Commitments, The Butcher BoyIntermission, and John Banville's screenplay-adaptation of Elizabeth Bowen's The Last September. Murfi's direction credits for the stage include his own The Lost Days of Ollie Deasy (Macnas), Mark Doherty's Trad (Galway Arts Festival), Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls (Red Kettle), Julian Gough's The Great Goat Bubble (Fishamble/Galway Arts Festival), and Enda Walsh's Penelope and The Walworth Farce (Druid), both winners of Fringe Firsts in Edinburgh. He has directed two short films: Druma (Macnas), and John Duffy’s Brother (Park Films), from Eoghan Nolan's screenplay-adaptation of Flann O'Brien's short story. (Pic: Keith Pattison)

Mark O'Halloran
is an award-winning Irish writer and actor for stage and film, who, with director Lenny Abrahamson, has produced some of the most distinctive and celebrated work in modern Irish cinema. His first feature length screenplay Adam and Paul received the Evening Standard British Award for Best Screenplay, and his performance alongside Tom Murphy as one of the pair of titular Dublin heroin addicts was honoured with the Gijón International Film Festival Award for Best Actor. In 2008, Mark received screenwriting awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards for both his RTE mini-series Prosperity and his second feature length Garage. Starring Pat Shortt (IFTA for Best Actor, 2008), Garage garnered numerous international accolades, including the C.I.C.A.E. Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Film prize at the 25th Torino Film Festival. Most recently Mark co-scripted the World War I short Coward, and his third feature length screenplay Perdido Amor, exploring the Cuban drag queen and prostitution world, is currently in pre-production. As an actor for the stage he has performed for The Abbey, The Gate, and Druid, as well as well-received turns in The Corn Exchange’s productions of Dublin by Lamplight, Chekov's The Seagull, and James Joyce's Dubliners. Mark's writing for the stage includes The Head of Red O'Brien, Too Much of Nothing, and Trade, which was named Best New Play at the 2012 Irish Times Theatre Awards. Alongside his award-winning performance in Adam and Paul, Mark’s film acting credits include A Kiss for Jed Wood, and the eponymous role in Park Film's adaptation of Flann O'Brien's John Duffy's Brother. (Pic: David Maury)

Julian Gough is the award-winning author of the novels, Juno & Juliet, Jude in Ireland and Jude in London, as well as the collection Free Sex Chocolate - Poems and Songs. His work has appeared in the Times, the New York Times, and the Irish Times, and he wrote the first short story ever published in the Financial Times. His fiction has won the BBC National Short Story Award, been shortlisted for the Wodehouse Prize, and represented Ireland in Best European Fiction 2010. Most recently, Julian's play The Great Goat Bubble—directed by fellow "Problems with Authority" performer Mikel Murfi
was performed to rave reviews at the Galway Arts festival by Fishamble, and Julian's short story "The iHole" was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award 2012. He is probably best known, however, for stealing Will Self's pig.
(Picture courtesy of Julian's website. For more details, follow Julian on Twitter)

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is an award-winning Irish poet, the founder and co-chief editor of the literary magazine Cyphers, and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin where she is an associate professor of English Literature specialising in the Renaissance. Ní Chuilleanáin's first collection Acts and Monuments won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1973. She has since published numerous critically lauded collections, including The Second Voyage (1977) and The Magdalene Sermon (1989), which was selected as one of the three best poetry volumes of the year by the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Poetry Book Prize Committee. In 2010 her most recent collection The Sun-Fish was the winner of the Canadian-based International Griffin Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award. She has also published books of poetry translated from Irish, Italian, and Romanian, most prominently Ileana Malancioiu’s After the Raising of Lazarus (2005) and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s The Water Horse (2001, with Medbh McGuckian).

This special reading has been made possible through the generous support of the Irish Literature Exchange.

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh is an award-winning Galway-based Irish language poet and the Irish language editor of the online journal, Southword. Her first collection, Péacadhwhich might be translated as ‘blossoming’ or ‘germination’was published by Coiscéim in 2008, and in 2012 her poem "Deireadh na Feide" won the Corn Uí Néill / The O’Neill Prize. Her poems have appeared in An Guth, Feasta, Crannóg and Poetry Ireland Review, and she has read at festivals in New York, Paris, Montreal and Berlin, as well as at the Imram literary festival in Dublin and the Cuairt na bhFilí in Scotland. Her work has been translated into English—in part by famed Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock—as well as French, German, Spanish, and Galician. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in Irish Studies at NUI Galway. As well as poetry, Ailbhe writes articles for ‘Beocheist’ in the Irish Times.

This special reading has been made possible through the generous support of the Irish Literature Exchange.

Aifric Mac Aodha is a Dublin-born Irish poet. Her poems have been published in several magazines, including Poetry Ireland, Innti and Bliainiris. She has been awarded a number of prizes for her work, as well as an Arts Council endowment. Her first collection, Gabháil Syrinx (The Capture of Syrinx) was edited by Pádraig Ó Fiannachta and published by An Sagart in 2010. She is the Irish-language poetry editor of Comhar and The Stinging Fly. Mac Aodha is currently working on Foras na Gaeilge’s dictionary project.

This special reading has been made possible through the generous support of the Irish Literature Exchange.

Academic & Social Programme

Tuesday June 18

Social Event

Meet & Greet
Bar San Calisto
Piazza di San Calisto 3 (Trastevere)

Wednesday June 19



Dirk Van Hulle
(University of Antwerp)

Flann O’Brien’s ‘wide mind’ and Enactive Cognition:
The Third Policeman
between Ulysses & The Unnamable

Chair: John McCourt (Università Roma Tre)

Panel 1
Writing between the Lines: O’Nolan’s Genetic Disorders
Chair: Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp)

Catherine Ahearn (Boston University) – Which Authority?: Drafts & Textual Variants in the Manuscripts of Brian O’Nolan
Adam Winstanley (University of York) – ‘Tell me, sir, did you ever study Bach?’: De-Composing Musical Authority in Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds
Ian Ó Caoimh (University College Dublin) – My Brother’s Biographer: Ciarán Ó Nualláin & Flann O’Brien

Panel 2
Stage Frights: O’Nolan’s Forgotten Scripts
Chair: Ondřej Pilný (Charles University Prague)

Daniel Keith Jernigan (Nanyang Technological University) – Exhuming Faustus Kelly: Myles na gCopaleen as Metanarrative Invention
Kerry Wendt (Emory University) – Flann O’Brien and the Accidents of Illusion: The Novel as a Self-Evident Sham & Bertolt Brecht’s Alienation Effect
Thierry Robin (Université de Brest) – The Handsome Carvers, Flann O’Brien, & Bertrand Leclair’s ‘Rout Theory’

Panel 3 (Plenary Panel)
Some Dissembling Required: Remapping O’Nolan’s Landscapes
Catherine Flynn (University of California, Berkeley)

Gülden Hatipoğlu (Ege Üniversitesi, İzmir) – Authority & Space in Flann O’Brien’s Story-Worlds
Alison Lacivita (University of Southern Mississippi) – The Artificial Manure Ring: Agriculture in O’Brien
Alana Gillespie (Utrecht University) – In Defence of ‘gap-worded’ Stories: Brian O’Nolan on Authority, Reading, & Writing
Siún Ní Dhuinn (University College Dublin) – Problems with Authority: Authorship & the Authentic Author in Myles’s Irish Language Works

Special Event
‘John Duffy’s Brother’:
An Evening with Mikel Murfi & Mark O’Halloran

Chair: Keith Hopper (Oxford University/St Mary’s University College)

A Dramatic Reading of ‘John Duffy’s Brother’

Followed by a screening of the short film John Duffy’s Brother
(Dir: Mikel Murfi; Starring Mark O’Halloran)

Q&A Session

20:00 - 21:30
Social Event


Hosted by His Excellency Mr Patrick Hennessy

Irish Ambassador to Italy
The Villa Spada al Gianicolo
Via Giacomo Medici

Thursday, 20 June

Carol Taaffe

Dead Funny: The Afterlife of Cruiskeen Lawn

Chair: Paul Fagan (University of Vienna)

Panel 4
No One Likes a Know-It-All: O’Nolan & the Encyclopaedic Ideal
Chair: Maebh Long (The University of the South Pacific, Fiji)

Ruben Borg (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – Reading Flann with Paul: Modernism & the Topos of Conversion
Elisa Severini
(Università Roma Tre) – Omniscience & Non-Sense
Dieter Fuchs
(Technical University of Koszalin) – The Dalkey Archive: A Menippean Satire against Authority

Panel 5
Gross Impieties: Suspicious Readings of The Hard Life
Chair: Thomas Jackson Rice (University of South Carolina)

John McCourt (Università Roma Tre) – Taking the Piss out of the Pope: Mr Collopy & Fr Fahrt in Rome
Paula Tebay
(Independent Scholar) – A Suspicious Reading of Flann O’Brien’s The Hard Life
Brian Doherty
(St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow) – Dogmatic Banter: Flann O’Brien versus The Jesuits



Lunchtime Screening
Flann O Brien: The Lives of Brian’
(Dir: Maurice Sweeney; Mint Productions / Radio Telefís Éireann 2006)


Panel 6
Resurrecting the Corpus: The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien

A Roundtable discussion with
Keith Hopper (Oxford University/St Mary’s University College)
Neil Murphy (Nanyang Technological University)
Jack Fennell  (University of Limerick)

Panel 7
Active Resistance: Reading O’Nolan’s Politics
Chair: Jed Esty (University of Pennsylvania)

lan Girvin (University Centre Doncaster) – Angry Young Irishmen: The Role and Status of the Public Intellectual in At Swim-Two-Birds
André Forget
(Dalhousie University) – Sweeny in the Trees: At Swim-Two-Birds & Decolonizing the Mind

Panel 8 (Plenary Panel)
Local Boy or Foreign Correspondent: O’Nolan in the Irish Times
Chair: John McCourt (Università  Roma Tre)

Robert Maslen (University of Glasgow) – Competing Fantasies of Ireland: James Stephens & Flann O’Brien
Ondřej Pilný (Charles University Prague) – Author-Character Encounters in Brinsley MacNamara’s The Various Lives of Marcus Igoe & Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds
Catherine Flynn (University of California, Berkeley) – ‘To them the half-said thing is the dearest’: Cruiskeen Lawn, Japan, & the Second World War

Special Event
Reading Evening

Jack Fennell
Reads 'The Tale of Black Peter',
his new translation of
Brian Ó Nualláin's 'Aistear Pheadair Dhuibh'.

Julian Gough

Reads ‘The iHole’

Mikel Murfi & Mark O’Halloran
Perform Myles na gCopaleen’s ‘Two in One’

Fiddler’s Elbow
Via dell’Olmata, 43, 00184 Rome

Friday, 21st June

Panel 9
The Clowning of Science I: Ancient Authorities
Chair: Dieter Fuchs (Technical University of Koszalin)

Meltem Gürle (Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, İstanbul) – The Third Man Argument: Problems of O’Brien’s Dualistic Ontology
Julia Jordan (Cardiff University) – The Atomic Swerves of Flann O’Brien
Noam Schiff (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – Morality, Science, & the Death Drive in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

Panel 10
Myles en Abyme: O’Nolan’s Cross References
Chair: Neil Murphy (Nanyang Technological University)

Fabio Luppi (Università Roma Tre) – Footnotes versus Allusions, Reversing the Obvious: Hidden, Real, & Fake Authorities / Authorships in The Dalkey Archive & The Third Policeman
Tamara Radak (University of Vienna) – ‘walking forever on falling ground’: Flann’s Footnotes & the Destabilisation of Textual Hierarchies
Jürgen Meyer (Erfurt University) – Brian O’Nolan’s Anti-Authoritarianism

Panel 11
The Clowning of Science II: Let’s get ‘Pataphysical!
Chair: Robert Maslen (University of Glasgow)

John Coyle (University of Glasgow) – Christ on a Bike: Flann & Jarry
Julian Gough (Author, Berlin) – The Technology of Philosophy: Flann O’Brien & Ray Kurzweil
Maria-Ana Tupan & Marin Cilea (University of Bucharest) – O’Brien & The Fold

Panel 12
Bottled for Export: O’Nolan in Europe
Chair: Erika Mihálycsa (Babeş-Bolyai University Cluj)

Simona Vannini (Università Roma Tre) – O’Brien, Pirandello, Unamuno, & Pessoa: The Author as a Legion of Selves
Francesco Laurenti (IULM University Milan) – The Challenge of Translating Proper Names in the Works of Brian O’Nolan
Inmaculada Lara-Jaén (Independent Scholar) – The ‘Conundrum’ of Humour in the Spanish Translation of Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

Panel 13 (Plenary Panel)
Bodily Harm
Chair: Carol Taaffe

Thomas Jackson Rice (University of South Carolina) – ‘Eat or be eaten’: Flann O’Brien as Cultural Cannibal
Richard T. Murphy (University of South Carolina Upstate) – Flann O’Brien & the Interrogation of Torture
Paul Fagan (University of Vienna) – ‘I’ve got you under my skin’: Narcissism in ‘John Duffy’s Brother’ & ‘Two in One’
Maebh Long (The University of the South Pacific, Fiji) – ‘a tidal surge of vomit’: Brian O’Nolan & Women

Jed Esty
(University of Pennsylvania)

West of Eden: Authenticity and Authority in O’Brien & Ford
Chair: Ruben Borg (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

19:00 – 20:30
Special Event

Poetry Reading & Wine Reception

On the grounds of St Isidores College

A special reading in Irish & English by
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh
Aifric Mac Aodha

Hosted by Mícheál Mac Craith
Including a short tour of the College Grounds & Wine Reception
St. Isidores College

This special reading has been made possible through the generous support of
The Irish Literature Exchange


Social Event
Farewell Dinner

Awards Ceremony of the Father Fahrt, S.J Memorial Prize
The International Flann O’Brien Society Awards

Il Giardino di Albino
Via Zucchelli, 29

End of Conference