George Bernard Shaw sits in profile. Photo: National Trust Collection
Apr 10 2018 Posted: 12:50 IST

NUI Galway and The Royal Irish Academy, in association with the Heyman Center, Columbia University, New York, will host a Judging Shaw Day, featuring a roundtable discussion entitled, ‘Shaw, Our Contemporary?’ a keynote lecture by Fintan O’Toole and a Judging Shaw Exhibition, on Monday 16 April at Columbia University.

George Bernard Shaw was the most famous Irishman in the world for much of his life – yet, for many, the prodigious nature and quality of his output is forgotten. As well as being a prolific writer and polymath, he was one of the first global celebrities who carefully created and managed his personal brand of ‘GBS’. With his passionate interest in social justice and poverty, in human rights, in public discourse and in entertainment, he was a man with much to say to our times. This event will include discussion with academics, archivists and a publisher who will debate the relevance of Shaw today, on the stage, in the classroom and in print.

Speakers at the roundtable discussion:

  • Catriona Crowe (Chair), Member of the Royal Irish Academy
  • Adrian Paterson, Lecturer in English, NUI Galway
  • Ruth Hegarty,Managing Editor, Royal Irish Academy
  • Barry Houlihan, Archivist, NUI Galway
  • Lucy McDiarmid, Professor, Montclair State University
  • Keri Walsh, Associate Professor, Fordham University

Keynote Lecture: GBS versus Ireland: Bernard Shaw and Irish Nationalism

Fintan O’Toole will explore Shaw’s ambivalent relationship with Ireland and Irish nationalism. George Bernard Shaw described Irish nationalist fervour in 1913 as “a burning fire shut up in the bones, a pain, a protest against shame and defeat, a morbid condition which a healthy man must shake off if he is to keep sane”. The only cure was national independence. Shaw always remained a paradoxical nationalist, arguing simultaneously that Irish freedom would do no good in itself and that it must be gained in order for the Irish to be able to think about other things. Author of a new book, Judging Shaw, Fintan O’Toole is a columnist and literary editor with The Irish Times and a Leonard L. Milberg lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. He has written books on Irish history, politics, society and culture. He has been awarded the European Press Prize 2017 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017.

The lecture will be followed by a reception to launch the Judging Shaw exhibition co-curated by Ruth Hegarty, Barry Houlihan, Fintan O’Toole and Jeff Wilson. This event is part of the Judging Shaw program to mark the publication of Judging Shaw by Fintan O’Toole, published by the Royal Irish Academy.

Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Shaw continues to intrigue, decades after the end of his long life. He still speaks to us, partly as a figure intent on social justice in his plays and criticism, by turns knowing and naïve, yet fully engaged in a world of contested relationships and political conflict.”

Ruth Hegarty, Managing Editor of the Royal Irish Academy, said: “I am delighted to take the Shaw Day Festival to the US. Shaw punctures our tendency towards groupthink and encourages us to be sceptical of our sources. The publication of Judging Shaw allows readers to ‘judge’ Shaw for themselves by reading his own words in letters, manuscripts and plays guided by the author Fintan O’Toole. I look forward to debating Shaw at Columbia.”

The event is organised by NUI Galway, the Consulate General of Ireland, New York, the Royal Irish Academy and The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University.

The Judging Shaw event will take place in the Butler Library, Columbia University, New York on Monday, 16 April from 4pm to 7.30pm. The Judging Shaw Exhibition will run at the Heyman Center for the Humanities for the month of April.

For more information and to register, visit: http://heymancenter.org/events/judging-shawa-roundtable-and-keynote/ and https://www.ria.ie/research-projects/judging-shaw

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