Undergraduate Awards & DRHEA 2011

So it’s that time of year again, where I frantically try and compress 3,000 word essays into 100 word abstracts foe submission to the undergraduate awards of Ireland and Norhtern Ireland and the undergraduate research conference run by the DRHEA.

Undergraduate Awards

for this you can submit up to three coursework essays along with a 100 word abstract for each and 5 keywords. The prize is publication of your essay in a journal as well as a medal and probably a chat with the president (assuming that doesn’t all go belly-up this October)

I’ve submitted two papers and I might try get a third one in assuming i have time.

Undergraduate Research Conference

I entered this last year and was chosen to give a talk on The Butcher Boy and In America. It was a bit nerve wracking at first because I only had fifteen minutes to cover a pretty broad topic and I was speaking to people from all disciplines so I couldn’t assume any prior knowledge and they go to ask questions at the end which initially terrified me but overall worked out alright.

I had good fun, met lots of nice people and the majority seemed to enjoy my talk so I’m entering again. (you can choose to do a poster presentation rather than a talk but ti’s pretty difficult to do one on the humanities)

The DRHEA require around 250 words of an abstract, I’m submitting the same essays to both so I’ll include the longer abstracts below. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I’d thoroughly recommend attendence at the conference even if you’re not submitting anything.

ABSTRACT #1: A Move towards the Posthuman: The Performance of Androgynous Characters in Popular Music

Popular music frequently explores and challenges gender identity. The performance of androgynous characters in lyrics, album art and music videos by artists across different genres such as Annie Lennox (Pop), David Bowie (Glam Rock) and Marilyn Manson (Goth) is an attempt to transcend gender boundaries. Often combined with new  technologies and futuristic themes (Such as the alien Ziggy Stardust as played by Bowie and Omega as played by Manson) this shows a striving for the posthuman to rewrite and deconstruct apparently intrinsic gender characteristics. Cyborg mechanics and the alien traditionally are signifiers of the posthuman. Judith Butler’s theories of repeated stylized acts in constructing gender are offset by Theodor Adorno’s theories of the culture industry commodifying and draining any meaning out of such repeated acts. In order to challenge gender identities and avoid commodification and heteronormative discourses these performances exist in a referential circle and continually increase the radicality of their transgression. Lennox’s cross dressing is augmented by Bowie in introducing the alien and Manson further subverts the integrity of the body itself and the human in his album art. This increasing radicality highlights the importance of the visual in modern and postmodern culture and discourses of identity.

Keywords: androgyny, posthuman, anti-heteronormativity, gender performance, commodification


ABSTRACT #2: Deconstruction of the Author and the Self in Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman.

Examination of Flann O’Brien’s treatment of the author and selfhood across a range of his works show how he explores the constraints of language in determining a self and an identity. He does this through use of intertextuality, metatextual devices and postmodernism. He places the author in opposition to his characters and investigates issues of control as they try to author an identity for themselves and each other. O’Brien uses these conflicts to show how reality affects literature and vice versa. Stage adaptations of his work such as At Swim-Two-Birds and Slattery’s Sago Saga highlight the instability of identity and the master-slave dialectic between author and character. Roland Barthes’ concept of “The Death of the Author” and Freud’s
“The Uncanny” provide useful theories for illuminating postmodern strategies of
decentralising the subject of knowledge. In exposing the literal mechanisms of
fiction in The Third Policeman O’Brien highlights the constructed nature of selfhood and identity so that it functions similar to a machine. In dealing with his characters’ search for identity and self-determination O’Brien highlights the permeability of the self
and the inability of language to created this autonomous self.

Keywords: Anglo-Irish literature, the Self, ‘Death of the author’, Deconstruction, the Uncanny.