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Strength & How to Obtain It


Bloomsday Lecture by Dr. Conor Heffernan (Ulster)

16 June 2023, 1pm

Leopold Bloom is not typically a name associated will bulging muscles and enduring strength. But Bloom, like thousands of his generation (and ours), was captivated by the desire to sculpt and shape his physique. Inspired by Prussian strongman Eugen Sandow, the “father of modern bodybuilding,” Bloom measured his body, flexed his muscles, and, when he remembered, even lifted weights as per the Sandow system. Sandow and his system are a sporadic but telling theme in Ulysses. Their inclusion speaks to Bloom’s physical dissatisfaction and, as some have argued, professional envy.

Join us in the James Joyce Centre on Bloomsday, June 16th at 1pm as Dr. Conor Heffernan (Ulster University) shreds — excuse us, sheds — some light on Sandow’s system, Bloom’s physical health, and the cultural significance of strength and fitness in Joyce’s work.

You may want to bring your gym shorts. Unlike most lectures about James Joyce, this one is going to get physical. Not only will audience members be treated to a display of strength from a professional athlete, they will have the opportunity to measure their body against Bloom’s (or Sandow’s, depending on one’s confidence) and indulge in those Sandow exercises Bloom so neglected.

So, if you ever wanted to learn about Ulysses, Edwardian physical fitness, muscular nationalism, and pump some iron at the same time, this lecture might just be for you. Who knows? We might determine who is the world’s fittest Joycean.

This talk is part of the James Joyce Centre’s Spring/Summer Lecture Series. The event is free but booking is essential: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/bloomsday-lecture-2023-strength-how-to-obtain-it-by-dr-conor-heffernan-tickets-641384356877

The Bloomsday Festival is organised by the James Joyce Centre in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, Dublin City Council, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, The Ireland Funds, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.