Friday, 9 November 2018

I am a footnote in Tolkien Studies...

Surely something that is on everyone's bucket list...?

And at last I can it say it...

I am a footnote in Tolkien Studies...

Stuart Lee's article about the 1968 BBC tv Leslie Megahey film is now visible on the Project Muse web site.

And downloadable - for those with access.

Patrick O'Sullivan (me) appears first on page 121, on a number of pages thereafter, and in the footnotes.

The article also cites my notes on this blog, Fiddler's Dog.  (Search for the Tolkien items, below.)

I have sent an email to the BBC History email group, updating them about the publication of the article.

It is an amazing relief to see Stuart Lee's article now out there, and I thank him for it.

It is an example of the sort of thing that a lot of us find ourselves doing, at a certain time of life - and there is, undoubtedly, an element of frustration in all this.  That is, instead of getting on with the new work, that fills our brains, we are having to give time and energy to the rescue of old projects, and somehow finding ways to place them in the research record.  The final rescue of a 1968 project in 2018 is perhaps an extreme example, but it is a good example.  There was luck here - in a few more years we would not have been able to call on the networks and the influences that helped Stuart Lee to put his research in place.

It is done.  

Yes, I am busy, yes, the next rescue...  Yes.

Patrick O'Sullivan
November 2018

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Visiting Scholar, Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, 2018-19

Visiting Scholar, Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, 2018-19

I can report that, once again, the Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, has negotiated on my behalf the processes within NYU - and I am now, again, still, one of NYU's Visiting Scholars, in the year 2018-19.

As ever I acknowledge the patient encouragement of Miriam Nyhan Grey, Director of Graduate Studies, Glucksman Ireland House, and of Eli Elliott, Administrator, Glucksman Ireland House, who choreographed the process.  And thank all the team at Glucksman Ireland House - who understand how people like me fit in to the Universe.

And, once again, as ever, I take all this as an Instruction from The Universe that I should continue to do academic, scholarly work, and make myself available within the scholarly networks, as best I can.

I am now at that September/ October stage, seeing what projects have firmed up for the coming year - and what resources I have available.

Still doing the other kind of work, of course...  For example, doing a lot of work in the recording studio, tidying the song lyric record - in every sense - and working on new songs.

In recent times I have tried to be a better Visiting Scholar, and - despite my notorious aversion to travel - do some actual visiting.  For example, I attended two major conferences in Ireland, the Global Irish Diaspora Congress, Dublin, August 2017, and the American Conference for Irish Studies, ACIS, Cork, June, 2018.  At both conferences I was able to informally confer with NYU colleagues.  I have established informal contact with New York University, London, England.  I have attended meetings with the British Association for Irish Studies (BAIS), here in England, and meetings with other Irish centres, including meetings at the Irish Embassy, London.

I will note that one of the events I attended this year, 2018, was a valedictory celebration of the career of Professor Joe Lee, the retiring Director of the Glucksman Ireland House, NYU, in the Glucksman Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland – as part of the gathering of the American Conference for Irish Studies 2018.  I would like to record my appreciation of Joe Lee’s friendly interest in my work and his support over the past decades.  Joe, I was there in June 2018 - mine was one of the hundreds of glasses raised, to wish you a long, happy, productive retirement.

And I welcome the new Director of Glucksman Ireland House, Kevin Kenny - whose strengths I know, and whose strengths will be needed.

Patrick O'Sullivan
October 2018

Friday, 18 May 2018

Papa Joachim Paris - Cabo Verde song, English language version

We are in another country.  And we hear a song.  Or we are driving through the night, and the radio picks up something unexpected.  Or we browse through the record collection of a friend...

We hear a song.  There is something about the melody and the performance that grips us.  And the words?  The words are in a language not our own.

But something of interest is going on, in those words.

What steps are needed to take that experience and turn it into a song that works in our own language, the English language?  As the steps turn into a journey where does the journey end?

That is the starting point for my series of song translations.  The aim is to produce an English language lyric that sits comfortably on the original melody, and is faithful to the twists and turns of the original text.

And on my Soundcloud, an example - my English language version of the much loved Cabo Verde song Papa Joachim Paris, from the original Cabo Verde creole/Portuguese.

Sung by Stephanie Hladowski, piano Stephanie Hladwoski, concertina Michael Hebbert, guitar Gene Dunford.

English language text by Patrick O'Sullivan.

Papa Joachim Paris, Papa Joquim Paris (you will find various spellings of the name...) is almost a second national anthem, on the Cabo Verde islands and throughtout the Cabo Verde diaspora...

Cabo Verde is the island nation, an archipelago in the Eastern Atlantic, off the coast of West Africa.  Its history was shaped by slavery, and by shipping patterns.  An important Cabo Verde settlement is in New Jersey, USA - follow the trade winds north and west.  Music is an essential part of the national identity, and the diasporic identity - and the music is an intriguing amalgam of African, Portuguese and other influences.  I swear that in some Cabo Verde songs
we can hear the remnant of an English sea shanty.  Most Cabo Verde lyrics are fairly straightforward - our beautiful island, the beautiful women of our island, the sadness of exile.

Papa Joachim Paris has all that, but suddenly goes into a stranger place - with the fear of a witch's curse.  That curse is there in the music - at the begioning of the second quatrain, with the word 'futecera', Portuguese 'feiticeira', on the BbM, a word that is usually translated by the English word 'witch'.  Or hag, sorceress - it really means fetish-maker, of course.  I tried and I tried to get my witch word at the beginning of the line, on the BbM - but decided on another route.  Once you are given the English word 'witch' you do not lightly abandon it - it brings a package.

Not a sensible choice of text for this project - the lyric lives very much in the oral world, passed on from voice to ear.  And, of course, a mix of personal names, place names and local idioms.  It took us ages to establish the text - which was finally found for us by Edmundo Murray, words AND music in...

Tavares, M. de J. (2005). Aspectos evolutivos da música cabo-verdiana. Praia, Cape Verde: Centro Cultural Português.  (There is also a Lisboa printing.)

Manuel de Jesus Tavares, p84, says that Eugenio Tavares considered this morna one of the oldest from the Ilha Brava, author unknown.  And there is certainly a feeling of an old song, and an old story, compacted by time,

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Jana Bokova, 'Havana', 1990

Jana Bokova, 'Havana', 1990

With little notice - and little fanfare - an extraordinary documentary from 1990 turned up on BBC4 television last Friday, May 11, 2018.  Jana Bokova's, 'Havana'.

For those with access to the BBC iplayer it is still available for a further month.

I don't want to be involved in campaigns - but surely there is a better way of giving us access to important BBC work of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s - in this case, the important documentaries of the ARENA series?

What is important about these works is not just skill, technique, subject matter - but the ways in which these documentaries have become part of the dialogue between generations.

Filmed in Havana, and in Little Havana, Miami, in 1989, Jana Bokova's documentary is purest Bokova - the patience, the unblinking eye, the interest in ordinary, and complex, lives, the respectful regard...  And the material knitted together, most skilled film-making, with many different levels.  Most obviously, in 'Havana', the careful use of the words of the Cuban poets, the respectful use of the words - the words are given their own screen time.

Jana Bokova's 'Havana' has since become best known for the interviews with the exiled Cuban poet, Reinaldo Arenas.  The story is that a bootleg - it shouldn't have to be a bootleg - fell into the hands of Julian Schnabel, and inspired his 2000 movie, 'Before Night Falls',  starring Javier Bardem...  And now we can put the Bardem performance alongside the original Bokova interview...

There is this helpful article about Reinaldo Arenas on the New Yorker web site...

The Literature of Uprootedness: An Interview with Reinaldo Arenas
By Ann Tashi Slater December 5, 2013

Some Julian Schnabel links...

Some Jana Bokova links - but search the web...

Going back to the 1990 Jana Bokova documentary, 'Havana' - and how marvellous to be able to see it again...  There is always a sequence in a Jana Bokova documentary when the men being interviewed - usually older men, but still afflicted with that roving eye - become fascinated by the pretty girl behind the camera.  Whom we never see.

You hear her voice, and you can see the effect.

Patrick O'Sullivan
May 2018

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

On first looking into Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy

On first looking into Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy

There is a little piece of mine that has proved popular, and useful...
O’Sullivan, P. (2004). On First Looking into Mercier’s The Irish Comic Tradition. New Hibernia Review, 8(4), 152–157.

It can be downloaded from my Archive at...

It looks at the importance of a specific book, Vivian Mercier’s The Irish Comic Tradition, in my own life - it is part book review, part autobiography.

I could write a companion piece, On first looking into Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy.  In fact, astute readers have already spotted that Richard Hoggart is there in my Mercier article - and I will leave it to new readers to spot the relevant sections.

So...  Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy - part ethnography, part autobiography.

I am prompted to think again about Hoggart and his Uses, by - at last - getting round to reading the biography by Fred Inglis...

Inglis, F. (2014). Richard Hoggart: virtue and reward. Cambridge: Polity.

The book is visible here...

There are many reviews...  See, for example...

Fred Inglis's book is, in its own way, as unique a thing as Richard Hoggart's, and - as reviewers have noted - has its own oddities.  Inglis, p 228, comments on later Hoggart offering, 'the kind of thing old buffers say as they switch off the ten o'clock news...' - but himself gives us more than enough old bufferisms.  In a sense fair enough - for he clearly feels  he must at least comment on the destruction of the kind of university, and the kind of public life, that Hoggart helped shape.

Looking at my own notes about Richard Hoggart...  Let me just mention Laurie Taylor's Thinking Allowed BBC radio programmes, Wed 26 Aug 2009...

Richard Hoggart
'Laurie Taylor discusses the life and work of leading cultural commentator Richard Hoggart, asking why his time is coming again.
Hoggart's evidence in the Lady Chatterley trial changed censorship for ever, his influence on the Pilkington Committee established the norms of public service broadcasting still in operation today and his academic work led to the invention of cultural studies in the UK.'

Laurie Taylor is particularly nonplussed by the Uses of Literacy's attack on milk bars - and milk bars, from this distance, do seem a comparatively innocent 1950s experience.

(There is an appreciative comment from Laurie Taylor on the back cover of Inglis, Richard Hoggart: virtue and reward.)

Milk bars also haunt a nice article by Joe Moran...
Cultural Studies
Volume 20, 2006 - Issue 6
Joe Moran
Pages 552-573 | Published online: 17 Feb 2007

Fred Inglis does touch, a little bit, on the international significance of Hoggart and Uses of Literacy.  He is good on Claude Levi-Strauss's appreciation of Hoggart, p 126-7, p 174.  He puts Uses of Literacy alongside Tristes Tropiques.  But, p 127, he quotes another commentator who, in 1957, praises Hoggart in order to disparage Camus (and Sartre).  The logical thing would be to put Hoggart alongside Camus.

And there is, indeed, a tradition of doing just that...  


The two (or three) careers of Richard Hoggart
From the foundation of cultural studies to the appropriations of French sociology
by Claire Ducournau

And I do like this thesis by William Nicholas Padfield - which outlines a French tradition of ‘intellectuels de première génération’, that is writers and intellectuals from relatively 'humble origins', and again puts Hoggart alongside Camus.  And alongside Bourdieu.

Padfield, W. N. (2015). “L”ascension sociale’ and the return to origins: reconstructions of family and social origin in the writings of Albert Camus, Annie Ernaux, Didier Eribon and Édouard Louis. Manchester Metropolitan University. Retrieved from

What seems to have gone un-noticed, in discussions of Hoggart, his critiques of the 'Americanisation of British youth culture' (including those wicked milk bars), and his naming of 'scholarship boy ambivalence' is the Americanisation of Richard Hoggart...

Our entry point there is Richard Rodriguez...

There is an article, 1974, which anticipates the book of 1982...

Rodriguez, R. (1974). Going Home Again: The New American Scholarship Boy. The American Scholar, 44(1), 15–28.

Rodriguez, R. (1982). Hunger of memory: the education of Richard Rodriguez, an autobiography. D.R. Godine.

(The book is now widely visible, and increasingly visible in the secondary literature.)

The article introduces Hoggart and the Uses of Literacy, p 17, as Richard Rodriguez tries to find a perspective on his own experience...  'For the child who moves to an academic culture from a culture that dramatically lacks academic traditions, looking back can jeopardize the certainty he has about the desirability of this new academic culture. Richard Hoggart's description, in The Uses of Literacy, of the cultural pressures on such a student, whom Hoggart calls the "scholarship boy," helps make the point...  ...he must choose between the two worlds: if he intends to succeed as a student, he must, literally and figuratively, separate himself from his family, with its gregarious life, and find a quiet place to be alone with his thoughts...'

Richard Hoggart is quoted at length in the book, and becomes a sort of guru figure, commentating from the past as young Richard Rodriguez shapes his future.

There is a Wikipedia entry on Richard Rodriguez...

And this recent Paris Review is helpful...

And, of course, our scholarship boy is also our scholarship girl, and perhaps faces even more complexity than her male counterpart...  Let me recommend this nicely written, beautifully paced, article by Laura Rendón...

Rendón, L. I. (1992). From the Barrio to the academy: Revelations of a Mexican American “scholarship girl.” New Directions for Community Colleges, 80(80), 55–64.

'It was during my first year of graduate school at the University of Michigan, far away from the Laredo, Texas, barrio where I spent my youth, that I read
Richard Rodriguez’s (1975) poignant essay, “Going Home Again: The New American Scholarship Boy.” Reading this story of how the academy changes
foreigners who enter its culture (more than it is changed by them) inspired a powerful emotional response in me. My own odyssey through higher
education had taken me along an unusual path...'  And she quotes from Richard Rodriguez essay the very lines that I have just quoted, above, about chosing between two worlds.

Rendón finds Hoggart through Rodriguez...

Oddly enough, I found Rodriguez through Irish Diaspora Studies - I was following some thoughts about nuns and Irish Christian Brothers...  And Rodriguez says, Hunger of Memory, p 122, his mother's family name is, 'inexplicably Irish', Moran.

Patrick O'Sullivan
April 2018

September 2018

My attention has been directed towards Joe Moran's web site...

The full text of his article,
Milk Bars, Starbucks and the Uses of Literacy
is available there...

Friday, 13 April 2018

Open Access, Collaboration, Interdisciplinarity...

Open Access, Collaboration, Interdisciplinarity...

The Universe and I are working towards a better relationship, in some areas at least.  For example, I am trying to persuade the Universe that if it wants me to read something it must not put too difficult obstacles between me and that text.  Money is an obstacle.

So, we look for useful things in Open Access resources, useful books and articles - though sometimes those Open Access resources are hard to find, hidden deep within academic or commercial publisher web sites.  Come along, Universe, make things easier...

And, of course, funding bodies need to think again - is it really Open Access if it is so hard to find...?

I have already mentioned two aggregating web sites, OAPEN and DOAB, and you can browse those web sites, and, back-tracking, see how funding decisions and scholarly decisions have made books available there - very often through European academic publishing houses and funding bodies...  But the net is spreading wider...

'The OAPEN Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation based in the Netherlands, with its registered office at the National Library in The Hague. OAPEN is dedicated to open access, peer-reviewed books. OAPEN operates two platforms, the OAPEN Library (, a central repository for hosting and disseminating OA books, and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB,, a discovery service for OA books...'
Directory of Open access Books is provided by OAPEN Foundation

Very often we can find material of Irish interest, and Irish Diaspora interest, within DOAB and OAPEN - and I will return to that at a later date.  Again, I have already mentioned here on Fiddler's Dog the lovely (money-saving) discovery of Mícheál Briody's lovely book about The Irish Folklore Commission, and Séamus Ó Duilearga (James Hamilton Delargy) - which became freely available on OAPEN just when I needed to cite it...  Thank you, Universe.

The Irish Folklore Commission 1935-1970: History, ideology, methodology Briody, Mícheál Finnish Literature Society / SKS, Helsinki 2008

Let me now cite something from an overlapping area of interest - interdisciplinary studies.  Often, usually at the funds-seeking part of a project, I get asked to advise on the 'interdisciplinary' part of the bid - and I tippy-toe in. 

Noting, for example, a remark by Amy E. Earhart - about p.28, 'The blurring of interdisciplinarity with collaboration...'
Challenging Gaps: Redesigning Collaboration in the Digital Humanities
The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age Edited by Amy E. Earhart and Andrew Jewell
Series: Editorial Theory and Literary Criticism

(This book is free to read and download on yet another Open Access site, digitalculturebooks, an imprint of the University of Michigan Press...  Not that easy to find, unless you already know it is there.)

But let me look briefly at an 'interdisciplinary' moment, one that is almost the opposite of collaboration - I can look briefly because the text is open access on the OAPEN web, and you can read it at your leisure.

I read this splendid book by Karl Widerquist and Grant S. McCall as a study of that moment when we try to be interdisciplinary, but realise that first of all we have to be critical - one discipline must offer a critique of another discipline.  In this case Widerquist and McCall ask how and why do modern philosophers use and perpetuate myths about prehistory?  (I might add that economists and theologians do it too...)

Widerquist, K., & McCall, G. (2017). Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Would I have come across this book if it were not for DOAB, OAPEN and Open Access?  Thank you, Universe.

Patrick O'Sullivan

25 years of the Irish Studies Review

25 years of the Irish Studies Review

There is to be a reception to commemorate 25 years of the Irish Studies Review, plus a presentation of postgraduate prizes from the British Association of Irish Studies at the Embassy of Ireland, London, on 23rd May 2018.

Looking back, those of us who were there at the beginning of the Irish Studies Review, and the founding of the British Association of Irish Studies...

I have put most of my Irish Diaspora Studies material on my MediaFire archive...

There is a little cluster of items which first appeared in Irish Studies Review, from 1992 onwards.

A number of writerly names are perhaps over-represented in the early issues of Irish Studies Review. 

The Founding Editors were, in those years, still finding their way - seeing quite where to pitch the journal - and a number of us were supportive, and did what the Editors asked us to do.

For example, the Editors decided to publish a short story of mine, 'The Fiddler's Apprentice' - the text, as published, complete with errors, is in that MediaFire archive.

I am told that the Editors were later to bitterly regret publishing that short story - for, they say, they were thereafter swamped by unsolicited short stories.

What can I say?  Not my fault, not my fault...

That story, 'The Fiddler's Apprentice' was later picked up by BBC Radio - I have put an audio file here...

Later Irish Studies Review was to morph into a standard academic journal...  Quite right, too...

And here is an opportunity to congratulate the Irish Studies Review team...