English student featured as a participant in August Zurich James Joyce workshop

Mikaela Kelley
Mikaela Kelley

From an opportune meeting in Rome to a conference participant in Zurich, studying author James Joyce has taken Radford University graduate student Mikaela Kelley across the globe.

After meeting Fritz Senn – a renowned James Joyce scholar – as an undergraduate student in February 2017 at the Tenth Annual James Joyce Italian Foundation Conference, Kelley was invited to return as a visiting scholar and attend an annual summer workshop in Zurich. She was also asked to publish a review of the Zurich conference that will be in James Joyce Quarterly.

The small-scale conference took place Aug. 6-11, and covered a single topic or theme present in Joyce’s works. Only 15-20 participants are invited each year. The theme for the 2018 conference was animals in Joyce.

“Being able to participate in the workshop was a huge honor,” Kelley said. “In one small room, seasoned Joyceans who have dedicated their life to studying his work were seated next to new scholars who have just begun to scratch the surface of his work – me.”

Professor of English Jolanta Wawrzycka, who also attended the workshop and is a renowned James Joyce scholar herself, said that the highlight of this year’s workshop was that one of her students was invited to attend.

“I have been very lucky over the years to work with students interested in Joyce – many of whom also attended the Joyce Conference in Rome, but Mikaela is the first Radford University student to have also attended the Zurich Workshop,” Wawrzycka said. “I was very proud to see her fit so well with all the international scholars and to deliver her presentation like a pro.”

Most dear to me are the times when I am invited into her home to sit in her office and excitedly discuss Joyce. I’m not sure a relationship this strong would be possible for me at another university.

Mikaela Kelley

Kelley said that she doesn’t think the relationship with her professor would have been as strong at another university.

“Dr. Wawrzycka has been so kind, generous and motivating during my time at Radford,” Kelley said. “She saw something in me that I didn’t recognize in myself while I was a student in her Literary Criticism course as an undergraduate. She has supported me in every way possible--talking through research topics, giving me books to read, editing my papers and calming my fears about traveling to international conferences.”

Kelley’s focus at the Zurich conference was how Joyce relates soul to animals, particularly in Joyce’s work “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

“I highlighted aspects of animality such as instinct and analyzed Joyce's use of base, carnal or beastlike imagery to explain Stephen's encounter with ‘profane joy.’ I also referenced animal symbolism in ‘Ulysses,’” Kelley said. “The point of the workshop was discovery and the atmosphere was kind, welcoming, open and relaxed. At every moment we were discussing Joyce. The workshop’s hours may have been 9-5, but the desire for uncovering meaning had no time limit.”

Sep 26, 2018
Max Esterhuizen