Imagined Authors: Reading the Homeric Question in Joyce’s Ulysses

The Sing in Me, Muse series 2022-23

Our series on the social, political and cultural relevance of the classics to our times continues with a talk on Joyce and the Homeric question and an informal book launch.

8 December 2022, 6pm GMT (in person)

A talk by Sophie Corser

Ulysses1934RandomHouse-chaptersFrom the ancient reception of the Iliad and the Odyssey to the present day, the name ‘Homer’ has triggered questions about the identity, or even existence, of the author.

In this talk, I will explore how the presence of Homer in the background to James Joyce’s Ulysses provokes and engages these same questions. A recent increased interest in modernist classical reception studies has caused a timely (if contained) revival of discussions dealing with the intertextual relationship between the Odyssey and Ulysses – a topic that had, for a few decades, become pretty unpopular within Joyce studies.

I hope to contribute to such renewed interest by looking at the strange presence of author-focused Homeric scholarship in the ‘Eumaeus’ episode of Ulysses: ranging from Homer as an idea, a cipher, a compiler, one of many, non-existent, or a genius, to Homer as – in Samuel Butler’s 1897 proposal – ‘a young, headstrong, and unmarried woman’. These imagined Homers, I’ll argue, are relevant not only to the style and narrative of ‘Eumaeus’ but also to the ways in which we construct (or even perform) readings of Joyce.

The talk, which will be chaired by Isobel Hurst and Lucia Boldrini, will be followed by a reception and informal launch of Sophie’s new book, The Reader’s Joyce: Ulysses, Authorship, and the Authority of the Reader (Edinburgh University Press, 2022).


Attendance is free but booking is required. BOOKING IS NOW CLOSED.

Watch the video recording of the talk:


The Speaker:

Dr Sophie Corser’s research focuses on issues of reading in modern and contemporary literature and criticism. Her first monograph, The Reader’s Joyce: Ulysses, Authorship, and the Authority of the Reader (Edinburgh University Press, 2022), rethinks the relationships between author, reader, and text through a study of James Joyce’s Ulysses. After working on Joyce for several years, Sophie has more recently been exploring her interests in intertextuality, metacriticism, classical reception, and formal experimentation within the field of contemporary writing; this informs her Irish Research Council funded project, ‘Women Reading in Contemporary Anglophone Writing: Disruptive Representations’. Before joining UCC, she held a Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at University College Dublin from 2019-21, following the completion of her PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2018.