English Faculty Special Assigned Leave Talks

January 21, 2021

Please join us on Zoom for two short talks by members of Ball State's English Department

Special Assigned Leave Talks
Thursday, Jan. 28, 11:00 a.m.

Silas Hansen: “Just a Guy at the Bar."

In my collection of essays, Just a Guy at the Bar, I explore what it means to live in the world as a man who was not raised to be one. During the Spring 2020 semester, I focused primarily on essays about relationships between men: with my father and brother, with my friends, with the men I interact with through playing euchre, watching football, or in the bars mentioned in the title. To what extent does my gendered experience complicate these relationships? How have these relationships influenced my understanding of my gender identity? What have I inherited—either through genetics or learned behavior—from the men who came before me?

Molly Ferguson: "Silence, Shame, and Escape in Contemporary Irish Mermaid and Selkie Stories."

This talk will share work from the book manuscript Disobedient Daughters: Feminist Folklore Adaptations in Contemporary Irish Writing. The book examines contemporary literature by Irish women writers that adapts Irish folktales or legends, identifying the strategies that writers use to revise folktales as feminist interventions. These revisions reflect the pressing contemporary need, both in Ireland and globally, to process trauma resulting from gender-based violence.

This talk will focus on several post-Celtic Tiger reinterpretations of mermaid and selkie lore that acknowledge the violence in the folktale origins, while also suggesting that the tales are ripe for subversion. First, I read the Irish language poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill in translation from her collection “The Fifty-Minute Mermaid” (2007) to examine her use of local Kerry mermaid and selkie tales towards conveying feminist interrogations of violence. Next, I draw attention to Danielle McLaughlin’s short story, “A Different Country” (2013), which captures the horror and mourning of an Orkney Island folk ballad about a woman who married a seal-man in a modern setting. Finally, I address the young adult novel The Surface Breaks (2018) by Louise O’Neill, exploring her adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” story towards a didactic purpose of empowering young feminist readers.

Share article to: