A reading of Kevin Birmingham’s book, The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle
For James Joyce’s Ulysses was held on Thursday, March 3rd at the Heritage Room in the Maxwell Library. This event consisted of multiple readings of several scenes out of Kevin’s book and a book signing afterwards. This reading was sponsored by the Irish Studies Program, and I got a chance to talk with the coordinator of the Irish Studies Program, Dr. Ellen Scheible about this event and about the program.
How did you hear about Kevin Birmingham?
I first heard of him at an International James Joyce’s conference, but then one of my colleagues, Emily Field used to work at Harvard with him and she suggested to me that we should have him come speak here at Bridgewater State University.
Why do you think this reading will benefit students?
The books is written as a historical one, but with the background of Joyce’s scandal in publishing Ulysses, so it is also a biography. The best way to describe it is creative nonfiction, and it is a page turner and makes you think about things in a provocative way.
What do you want students to get out of this reading?
I think that students will benefit from hearing how much he struggled with getting Ulysses published, and what went into Ulysses. They don’t know how hard it was for him to get it published and known to the public and the scandal that was caused because of it. I think that students will see how the book is representative of modernism, of the historical time period, and of censorship.
Is the Irish Studies Program planning any more events?
Yes. We have an event coming up in the beginning of September, an Irish Cultural Heritage day. We will have speakers, a band, and student presentations.
This reading of Kevin Birmingham’s book was not only intriguing, but I myself learned a lot of obscenity laws and of the struggles that James Joyce went through to get his book published. This event opened my eyes to the life of James Joyce and his determination to have his book published and received by the public.
Rachel Meaney is a Comment staff writer.