Among the first flood of women graduating from Queen’s in the early twentieth century was the brilliant Helen Waddell. She gained her BA with first-class honours in English in 1911, writing a Master’s thesis the following year. Obliged to remain in Belfast as a companion to her stepmother for the next eight years, she continued academic research as well as writing creatively, publishing Lyrics from the Chinese in 1913. After Mrs Waddell’s death she studied at Somerville College, Oxford, taught at Bedford College, London and researched in Paris. Failing to secure a permanent academic post, she pursued a very successful career as an independent medieval scholar, writer and translator. Among her most well-known publications are: The Wandering Scholars (reprinted three times within a year of its publication in 1927 and for which she was awarded the A. C. Benson silver medal by the Royal Society of Literature); Medieval Latin Lyrics, 1929, and a novel, Peter Abelard, published in 1933. Waddell received honorary degrees from the University of Durham (1932), Queen’s University Belfast (1934), Columbia University (1935), and St Andrew’s University (1936). She was made an associate of the Irish Academy of Letters (1932) and a corresponding fellow of the Medieval Academy of America (1937). She befriended authors such as George Russell (AE), Bernard Shaw, and Siegfried Sassoon and politicians such as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. The early onset of dementia cut short a career whose beginnings had been so delayed. Her works melded scholarship and imagination, stimulating popular success although not always acceptable to the academy. Recent and ongoing research, exemplified by this conference, has recovered Waddell as a significant writer, suggesting new ways of reading her distinctiveness as a medievalist, translator and creative writer.
There will be an exhibition on Helen Waddell and her writings in the McClay Library at Queen’s during the conference.
Venue for Conference: Humanities Postgraduate Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, 18 College Green
The organisers are grateful for financial support from the Esme Mitchell Trust; Somerville College, Oxford; the Women’s International Research Forum, Queen’s University Belfast; the School of English, Queen’s University Belfast and the School of History and Anthropology, Queen’s University Belfast.
Register Online at https://knock.qub.ac.uk/ecommerce/lwhw2012/index.php
Friday, 11 May
5.30 pm Coffee/Tea
Session 1: Peter Abelard the novel (Chair: Dr Ramona Wray (Queen’s University Belfast))
Dr Catherine Smith (NUI, Maynooth): ‘”Spider Web of Woman's Life”: Private Space in Peter Abelard’
Dr Eibhear Walshe (University College, Cork): ‘The Historical Novel: Helen Waddell’s Peter Abelard and Kate O’Brien’s That Lady’
Dr Stephen Kelly (Queen’s University Belfast): ‘Waddell's Fiction as Affective Historiography"
8.00 pm Reception/Buffet Dinner
Launch of Jennifer FitzGerald, Helen Waddell and Maude Clarke: Irishwomen, Friends and Scholars (Peter Lang, 2012) by Professor Marie Therese Flanagan (Queen’s University Belfast)
Saturday, 12 May
Session 2: Critical readings (Chair: Dr John Scattergood (Trinity College, Dublin))
Dr Amanda Tucker (University of Wisconsin at Platteville): ‘"The Ties That Bind: Waddell's Fairy Tales, the Lost Decade, and the Transnational Imaginary.’
Professor Helen Carr (Goldsmith’s College, London): 'Wandering Poets and the Spirit of Romance in Helen Waddell and Ezra Pound'.
Dr Clare Carpenter (York University): ‘Helen Waddell’s Wandering Scholars, Medieval Latin Lyrics and “The Lost Generation”’
Professor Norman Vance (University of Sussex): 'Writing Beyond Rome and Geneva'
11.30-11.45 am Coffee11.45-1.15 pm
Session 3: Medieval contexts (Chair: Dr Stephen Kelly (Queen’s University Belfast))
Professor Constant Mews (Monash University, Melbourne): ‘Helen Waddell and Heloise: Continuity of a Learned Tradition’
Dr Ann Buckley (Trinity College, Dublin): 'Wandering Scholars and Saintly Cults: the Medieval Office of St Fursa’
Professor Charles Lock (University of Copenhagen): ‘Helen Waddell: Redeeming the Dark Ages’
1.15-2.15 pm LUNCH2.15 – 4.15 pm Session 4: Beside and Alongside Helen Waddell (Chair: TBA)
Louise Wasson (Queen’s University Belfast): ‘Helen Waddell, Evelyn Underhill and Hope Emily Allen: A Portrait of Early Twentieth-Century Medievalism’Professor David Burleigh (Ferris University, Yokohama): ‘Parallel Lives: Helen Waddell and Arthur Waley’
Dr Nini Rodgers (Queen’s University Belfast): 'Endogamy and Emigration, Helen Waddell and the Victorian family’
Dr Jennifer FitzGerald (San Diego State University): ‘”The Fun of Being Intellectual”: Maude Clarke, Irish Medievalist’
Registration Fee: £15 sterling (Buffet Dinner: £15)
Register online at: https://knock.qub.ac.uk/ecommerce/lwhw2012/index.php
Download Registration form (word doc)
For more information contact:
Professor Mary O’Dowd
School of History and Anthropology
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN