Rickard, John S.
Rickard, John S.
PERSONAL: Male. Education: Bucknell University, B.A., 1975; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.A., 1982, Ph.D., 1989.
ADDRESSES: Office—Bucknell University, English Department, Moore Avenue, Lewisburg, PA 17837. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, professor of English, beginning 1990, National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in the Humanities, 1999–2002. American Conference for Irish Studies Annual Book Prizes, Literary Criticism Committee, judge, 1996; James Joyce Annual Summer School, University College, Dublin, lecturer, 2000.
AWARDS, HONORS: James R. Gaskin Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1985, and Teaching fellowship for excellence in teaching, 1986, both University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, Bucknell University, 1993.
(Editor, with Peter Brooks) Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England) 1994.
Joyce's Book of Memory: The Mnemotechnic of "Ulysses," Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1999.
Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Studies in the Literary Imagination, European Joyce Studies, Bucknell Review, and James Joyce Quarterly. Contributor to books, including Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Nationality, edited by Susan Shaw Sailer, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1997; Joyce in the Hibernian Metropolis: Essays, edited by Morris Beja and David Norris, Ohio State University Press (Columbus, OH), 1996; Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory, edited by Michael Payne and Meenakshi Ponnuswami, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England), 1996; and Philosophical Imagination and Cultural Memory: Appropriating Historical Traditions, edited by Patricia Cook, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1993.
WORK IN PROGRESS: "Eating like a White Man: Nibbling at the Edges of Heart of Darkness," an article for Contradiana.
SIDELIGHTS: In Joyce's Book of Memory: The Mnemotechnic of "Ulysses," English professor and James Joyce scholar John S. Rickard presents a detailed analysis of the Irish writer's use of concepts of memory in his famed novel Ulysses. "With an impres-sive depth of scholarship, Rickard examines theories of memory from Plato and Aristotle to Freud and Bergson, that serve as a thematic background" to Joyce's novel, commented Michael H. Begnal in Studies in the Novel.
A mnemotechnic is described on the Duke University Press Web site as "a technique for preserving and remembering personal, social, and cultural pasts." In the book, "Rickard distinguishes between voluntary memory, which is controlled, and involuntary memory, which arises from external triggers," noted Sheldon Brivic in the Journal of Modern Literature. Concepts of forgetting and repression, as well as the role of memory in nostalgia and habit, are also important to the novel.
According to Rickard, the book's main characters, Stephen and Bloom, are inhibited by repressed memories of tragedies in their lives: Stephen by the death of his mother and Bloom by the death of his son, Rudy. Each man blames himself for the deaths, but it is through the use of memory that each can also come to terms with what happened. Memory holds the key to releasing the characters from the personal paralysis of the habitual and unconscious behaviors that hold them back. The novel becomes "an odyssey of remembering in which the characters have to discover their buried knots of conflict by making the appropriate use of memory," Brivic commented. Involuntary memory, as it applies in Ulysses, "is necessary to recover what has been blocked out," Brivic observed, "and Rickard sees Joyce as systematically planting a series of words that set off involuntary memory" for the characters in the novel. In this way, Stephen and Bloom will excavate their past and make genuine psychic progress toward recovery and personal redemption.
"Rickard is a fine close reader, and the galaxy of verbal links he weaves is an advanced model of the far-flung texture of what he calls Joyce's memory theater," Brivic wrote. Begnal observed that Rickard is "good at unraveling the complexities of dream and memory" in Ulysses, his ideas about memory in Joyce's novel form a "lucid, carefully elaborated, and frequently illuminating theory," Brivic stated.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, November, 1999, review of Joyce's Book of Memory: The Mnemotechnic of "Ulysses," p. 540.
English Literature in Transition, Volume 42, number 4, 1999, review of Joyce's Book of Memory, pp. 475-477.
Journal of Modern Literature, summer, 2000, Sheldon Brivic, review of Joyce's Book of Memory, p. 575.
Studies in the Novel, winter, 2003, Michael H. Begnal, "Three Faces of Joyce," review of Joyce's Book of Memory, p. 559.
Duke University Press Web site, http://www.dukeupress.edu/ (December 17, 2004).