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Catherine Flynn

September 18, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT

celebrating the release of her new book

James Joyce and the Matter of Paris

published by Cambridge University Press

In James Joyce and the Matter of Paris, Catherine Flynn recovers the paradigmatic city of European urban modernity as the foundational context of Joyce’s imaginative consciousness. Beginning with Joyce’s underexamined first exile in 1902–03, she shows the significance for his writing of the time he spent in Paris and of a range of French authors whose works inflected his experience of that city. In response to the pressures of Parisian consumer capitalism, Joyce drew on French literature to conceive a somatic aesthetic, in which the philosophically disparaged senses of taste, touch, and smell as well as the porous, digestive body resist capitalism’s efforts to manage and instrumentalize desire. This book resituates the most canonical of Irish modernists in a European avant-garde context while revealing important links between Anglophone modernism and critical theory.

Catherine Flynn works on British and Irish modernist literature in a European avant-garde context. Her book, James Joyce and the Matter of Paris, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2019). She is currently at work on Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’Nolan’s comic, ployglot Irish Times column, Cruiskeen Lawn. Profess Flynn joined the Department of English at the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Introduction to the Humanities Program from 2009 to 2012. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2009 and her B.A. in English and Philosophy from University College Cork in 2000. Previously, she practiced as an architect in Ireland and in Vienna, Austria; she has a B.Arch from University College Dublin. She is an Affiliate of the Program in Critical Theory and currently also serves as Director of Berkeley Connect in English and as Associate Director of Irish Studies.

What has been said about James Joyce and the Matter of Paris:

‘This strikingly original book advances several interrelated arguments about the importance of Paris for understanding Joyce’s work. Flynn shows that for Joyce, Paris embodied the spectacle, and the challenges, of the modern city and its burgeoning consumer capitalism.  She argues that Joyce responded to Paris by imagining new ways of thinking through the senses, the body, and materiality generally. This ‘sentient thinking’, as Flynn articulates it, is both an innovative model of subjectivity and the formulation of an embodied aesthetic. James Joyce and the Matter of Paris departs from the dominant scholarly trends of the last two decades and promises to reshape scholarship on Joyce, modernism, and aesthetics decisively.’

Marjorie Howes – Boston College

‘James Joyce and the Matter of Paris changes our sense of Joyce’s entire trajectory. Flynn’s eloquent and original book demonstrates that Paris was for Joyce more than a place to publish and flourish, more than a theme in his texts, it was a style, a way of writing, of thinking and of feeling. Thanks to this compelling study of the impact of a French poetic sensibility on Joyce, we discover a more capacious and politicized author immersed in a modernité conceptualized by Walter Benjamin.’

Jean-Michel Rabaté – University of Pennsylvania

‘Catherine Flynn gives us the first comprehensive guide not to Joyce’s Paris, but rather to Paris’s Joyce: how the city, and the artistic, economic, and cultural landscape he encountered there fundamentally shaped the writer’s vision. This book, for the first time, shows us how Paris is the second city of the Joycean imagination.’

Barry McCrea – University of Notre Dame, Indiana

‘This book presents evidence of Joyce’s development that has the authority of a documentary chronicle. With intellectual and critical intelligence of exceptional discernment, Catherine Flynn has given us a field-altering account of Joyce’s literary career and its establishing circumstances.  James Joyce and the Matter of Paris will be indispensable for Joyce studies as well as for scholars of modernism.’

Vincent Sherry – Washington University, St Louis


September 18, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT
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