Edna O Brien s writing has always provoked controversy, from her earliest The Country Girls trilogy to her more recent works of faction , In the Forest and Down by the River. Critical responses have been divided between those who see her writing as populist and stereotypical, and those who admire her flouting of taboo and experiments with style and language. Existing criticism has tended, however, to regard O Brien primarily in the light of feminist and Irish nationalist and religious discourses, leaving unexplored a great deal of what makes her a complex figure.
A major International Conference, "Edna O Brien: A Reappraisal", will take place on Saturday 23rd April in NUI Galway (9.00am, Centre for the Study of Human Settlement and Historical Change). Co-hosted by the University s Department of English and the Centre for Women s Studies, delegates from Finland, France, Italy, the US, England and Ireland are due to attend.
"The conference will seek to broaden the critical framework for O Brien studies, reconsidering, for example, the reception of her work both in Ireland and elsewhere and her place in the canon, the way in which her work interacts with contemporary fiction, literary influences on her work and more," says Dr Rebecca Pelan, director of the Women s Studies Centre, NUI Galway, who has published extensively on the subject of Irish women s writing and Edna O Brien s fiction and who will address the conference.
Established scholars as well as newer voices will contribute on the day towards creating fresh critical perspectives on the writing of Edna O Brien. Other speakers include Amanda Greenwood (Andrew Marvell School, UK) who is the author of the most recent monograph on Edna O Brien and Heather Ingman (TCD) who has published several books and articles on women s writing, including work on Irish women s writing and that of Edna O Brien.
- Conference programme available at: www.nuigalway.ie/english/eob/index.html