Annette Skade was the recipient of one our IAAS bursaries to assist with attendance at the postgraduate symposium.


As a researcher into allusion in the poetry of Anne Carson, the scope of my PhD naturally extends beyond the boundaries of the School of English, flowing into all areas of the Humanities, and so the IAAS Postgraduate Conference was of particular interest to me.  The IAAS Call for Papers for the Postgraduate Symposium “A More Perfect Union” had also grabbed my attention by posing the question “What is the state of this “more perfect Union” today? This was a Call For Papers very much for our times and called to mind Carson’s poem “Clive’s Song” which had appeared in The New Yorker early in 2017. I wrote the paper as a response to the call and the wide brief and time constraints allowed me to do one of the things I enjoy most: a close reading of a piece of poetry.

It was also a chance for me to read a paper before my post-graduate peers which was invaluable to me at this early stage of my PhD. I had given a paper in the DCU School of Humanities seminar series in September, and was due to give another at a The Politics of Space and the Humanities Conference  in Greece in December. The opportunity to speak at the IAAS symposium between these two events was a great help to me- a lesson in controlling my nerves and honing my skills in a more familiar environment before my first full Conference.

The day started with Sarah McCreedy’s thought-provoking paper on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and continued to fascinate, giving me insights into American History, Literature, Film and Politics. Some papers, such as Shane Morrisy’s which responded  to “the Visual rhetoric of the WPA Posters” were of interest because they tied in with aspects of my own research,  others revealed  the political chicanery underlying American Politics in the twentieth century and at the present time. William O’Neill’s paper “Backyard Alliances: An examination of the US foreign policy relationship with El Salvador during the civil war 1977-1992, and the impact of migration to the US”  was a particularly pertinent examination of that period and context, while bringing us right up to date by showing the same rhetoric at play in the Trump era. Many of the concerns of this paper were also touched on in Anne Carson’s poem, which was the subject of my paper. Just one example of how academic boundaries are blurred at Symposiums such as this.

Of course, the conversations between papers as well as those at the Symposium dinner were an important part of the day and added greatly to my enjoyment of it. I was pleased to meet other postgraduates and academics working in the field of American Studies throughout Ireland.

I would like to thank the organisers of the conference, James Hussey and Sarah Cullen, for doing such a great job, Ciaran O’Rourke, who chaired my panel so well, and  the IAAS Committee for awarding me a bursary to attend. I look forward to the IAAS conference in April.

Annette Skade