The Science, Medicine and Imagination Research Group – CISSMI – is please to announce that Melissa Fegan (Chester) will speak on “Literary Representations of the Great Famine”

The nineteenth-century Irish novelist Emily Lawless said that ‘Between the Ireland of the past and the Ireland of the present the Famine lies like a black stream, all but entirely blotting out and effacing the past’.  For the contemporary playwright Tom Murphy, the Famine ‘was and is the greatest punctuation mark in Irish history’.  From the beginning of the Famine to the present day writers have sought to understand and mediate the Famine through their works, exploring what Ireland lost and continues to lose in this breach with the past.  Authors such as William Carleton, Anthony Trollope, Jane Francesca Elgee (future mother of Oscar Wilde), James Clarence Mangan, Samuel Ferguson, Aubrey De Vere, and many others, testified to the horrors they witnessed during the Famine – bodies by the roadside or in cabins, living skeletons stalking the countryside, exportation of food from a starving country, parents eating the corpses of their children.  In the 160 years since, writers have continued to return to the Famine as, in Murphy’s term, ‘a racial memory’, both a transition moment and a catastrophe identified as the source of modern malaise.  This paper examines the lasting legacy of the Great Famine in literature.

Wednesday 3rd February, 5.30pm – Rm. 4.44, Humanities Building, Cardiff University.

Collaborative Interdisciplinary Study of Science, Medicine and the Imagination Research Group is a research collaboration between Cardiff University and the University of Glamorgan. The research group is dedicated to the study of the history of science (particularly the medical sciences) and the imagination (literary and cultural). Besides the research activities of the group’s members, CISSMI supports a series of seminars and other research activities that allow for discussion and interaction around these key themes. For further details see the CISSMI webpages at: [ ]