Category Archives: In the news

Striped shirts and hoodies: dressing for urban disorder

As the media discussion of the London riots unfolded last week – with its talk of hoodies, ‘cardigans’ and the art of looting the right trainers – I was reading about Italian protest movements in the 1960s. Not the better known ‘68ers with their Che Guevara beards and hippy inspired look, but the series of working class protests that took place across the northern Italian cities in 1960 and 1961. They were less ideologically driven and less structured than those of ’68, but no less reflective of the turmoil and inequality of Italian society at the time. They aren’t directly comparable with the London riots but hearing about both did make me think about urban unrest, collective protest and the politics of dress, since it does seem to have a real importance both for those involved and for the press who need to describe and discuss them afterwards. Continue reading

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Posted in History, In the news, Italy, Politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Politics of Art: Writing the Arab Spring

Ever since I read the excellent Pereira Maintains in January, I’ve been meaning to write about it properly, but never quite got around to it. A novel by Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi set in 1930s Lisbon, it is told from the point of view of a middle-aged literary newspaper editor who becomes a reluctant witness to the violence and repression of Salazar’s brand of fascism and dictatorship. The story is sparse and simply told; stripped down to basics so much it reads almost like a fable, which Tabucchi uses to pose some powerful questions. What is the point of the printed word in a dictatorship, when newspapers aren’t allowed to inform people as to what is going on? And what is the role of literature, of art in a society such as this? When I went to the Artists in the World panel discussion as part of the Dublin Writers’ Festival a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the stark narrative of Pereira Maintains. Continue reading

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Escaping the ivory tower: academics and the city

By Niamh Cullen Last Wednesday I attended the inaugural event of a new group of Dublin based humanities scholars, Dublintellectual. The idea behind Dublintellectual – bringing the research of Irish based scholars and researchers to a wider public – is … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Education, Events in Dublin, In the news, Ireland | Tagged , | 10 Comments

‘Arts degrees. Please take one’… Is a humanities degree worth the paper it’s written on?

By Niamh Cullen I think most humanities students are asked at least once – and realistically, probably a lot more than that – why they chose to do an ‘arts’ degree. After all, what does history, English, Spanish or film … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Education, History, In the news, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Sure they only work six hours a week’: Defending Irish academia

By Patrick Walsh Irish universities and the academic blogosphere are currently full of academics reflecting upon their position, as they attempt to generate responses to increasingly restrictive, and frequently ill-thought out new policy directives. Reflection of course comes naturally to … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Education, In the news, Ireland | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

What’s the point of universities?

I know this blog has been very quiet for a while – unfortunately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time for writing blog pieces in the last few weeks, although, annoyingly, I’ve had loads of ideas! However, … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Education, In the news, Ireland | 2 Comments

‘When the press is gagged, the reader has to read between the lines’… Piero Gobetti and antifascist Italy

In a time of political crisis, when real power eludes us or there is huge uncertainty about what we want or how to solve our problems, words may be the best weapon we have. It is journalism and editorial comment that so often articulate the mood, and the concerns of a society, and through words – whether printed or increasingly online – that we manage to reflect meaningfully on what is going on, and even to sketch out, discuss and debate ideas and possible solutions. The value of good editorial commentary – whether in national newspapers or blogs; Fintan O’Toole or Ireland after Nama – has become increasingly clear during Ireland’s recent years of political crisis. The more immediate Egyptian crisis is another, urgent indication of courageous, independent voices, even if their medium is more likely to be twitter than print newspapers. One of the books I read over Christmas – a brilliant, slim volume by Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi called Pereira Maintains and set in Salazar’s Portugal – is another powerful testimony to the editor’s unique potential, and indeed his or her responsibility, to use the printing press to spread necessary ideas and truths, even in great danger. Continue reading

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